Movie Review: Battleship

Back to back madness! Here’s a review of the latest “blockbuster” effort from Hasbro’s association with Hollywood. It came out in Australia two weeks ago. The Avengers it certainly ain’t.

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Starring:
Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Rihanna
Director:
Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock)
Rating: M
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Who could possibly have expected to see something like this in theatres? Toy company Hasbro, who pushed the Transformers film franchise into existence and rebooted the My Little Pony television series into its most successful edition ever, must have been so confident in their ability to put their toys on screen and bums on seats that they thought a celluloid adaptation of a board game was viable. Now, after a huge marketing push, Universal Studios have released the multi-million dollar project in cinemas. The results are what you might expect.

There isn’t much to Battleship, really. The idea is that aliens respond to a curiosity signal sent by Earth, landing in the sea near Hawaii and facing off against a makeshift coalition of international navy forces that happen to be chilling together for a massive Naval war games event. The transforming alien ships pack some serious firepower, including party popper-shaped explosive shells and deployable Deceptic-I mean drones of destruction that, for some reason that is never explained, don’t attack some humans but will freely destroy everything they need to survive. Transformers at sea would be a good way to describe it, but that would ignore how much the aliens themselves look like locusts from the Gears of War games wrapped in Spartan armour from the Halo series.

Indeed “original” is not an apt word to describe Battleship as a whole film, although it does try to do some inventive things with its subject matter. Its first two action sequences have nothing to do with the sea at all and provide some unexpected thrills, but tonally they don’t have anything in common with the rest of the story and are left behind quickly. The lone part of the movie that actually resembles the Battleship board game is also worth mentioning as a highlight, as it manages to be the only genuinely tense part of the whole experience.

Unfortunately the few well-exectuted parts of Battleship are overshadowed by the film’s utterly terrible script. Cringeworthy dialogue punctuates the narrative from start to finish, which is something that no amount of classic rock anthem insertion can alleviate. Nothing can ease the blow landed by conversations like “How’s your driving skills?” (dead-serious face) “Good.” This was hardly Rihanna‘s best choice for a feature film debut. Liam Neeson, though heavily promoted in the trailers, is also hardly seen after the film’s establishing scenes. His mid-movie absence does not help things at all.

Other aspects of the screenplay fare little better. Our irritating hero Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch from John Carter) is down on himself until someone calls him “captain”, which leads him to raise his head to swelling music and transform into a confident, cunning tactician in an instant. When help from an unlikely source is needed late in the piece, the patriotic visual cues reach beyond the obvious and into a realm dripping with cheesiness.

There is some enjoyment to be found in Battleship, and it isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but I would only recommend it to those looking for some mindless fun in the vein of Transformers. Although, on reflection, I’d take any of the Transformers films over this.

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THE VERDICT

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Good:
Adrenaline-filled and occasionally clever action sequences
Bad:
Underused supporting cast, woeful script with a hefty side order of cheese
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2 VsW E A K

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