Come back, Tom Cruise—all is forgiven

Battleship

on May 15, 2012 by Pete Hammond
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battleshipreview.pngGame on. Battleship had the unusual box office strategy of opening in most corners of the globe before hitting its home market in the U.S., and so far has performed respectably with over $200 million in the bank preceding its North American debut. It may be good business for Universal to squeeze every last buck from the action-friendly overseas market before word of mouth and killer summer competition sinks this ship. A hyper-loud, non-stop assault on the senses, this two hour-plus CGI aliens vs. the military concoction is a half-baked conceit based on the Hasbro board game. Consider it Transformers meets Independence Day meets Pearl Harbor meets Top Gun. Its endless parade of explosions, battles and general mayhem makes Michael Bay look like Ingmar Bergman. Toplined by an unimpressive Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) as a free-wheeling slacker who becomes a war hero overnight, non-discerning audiences should lap up the fireworks and give up on anything resembling human relationships or coherent storytelling. Expect decent opening numbers but a quick retreat once audiences figure out that even the flat Hasbro board game has more depth.

It's understandable that Hasbro and Universal want to tap the money-minting mill they found transferring Transformers and G.I. Joe into cinematic gold franchises, but they forgot that without the human component, toys are just a heap of scrap plastic. Battleship starts well enough as we're introduced to Alex Hopper (Kitsch) celebrating his birthday at a bar where his attempt to pick up physical therapist Samantha (swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker) winds up getting him arrested. His embarrassed straight-as-an-arrow Navy big ‘bro Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) finally forces his brother to get his act together and join the Navy. Amazingly, he does and somehow moves quickly up the ranks while winning over the very well-connected Samanthaher father (Liam Neeson) is commander of the entire Pacific fleet. Then comes an unfriendly visit from extraterrestrials that escalates as the smartly-attired alien force decides to launch an "extinction-level" attack on Hawaii and the Earth in general. But fear not as Alex and his female colleague Raikes (pop megastar Rhianna) step up their defenses even as their associates are being blown to bits.

Competently made with impressive special effects, Battleship goes way over the top, a case of too much flash and bang-for-the-buck. Director Peter Berg and writers Eric and Jon Hoeber give our human characters little to do but push buttons and try to steer clear of the destruction derby. Kitsch, who was fine in TV's Friday Night Lights, is 0 for 2 on the big screen in 2012 after this and the John Carter debacle. Come back, Tom Cruiseall is forgiven. Decker is pretty to look at, but it's Rihanna in her film debut who might have an actress in there somewhere, even when given lines like "Mahalo, you mother f-ker!" as she blows aliens to bits. Skarsgard is credible and we can only thank God for Neeson who lends more authority and vigor to the film than it deserves. Too bad he's so under-used.

Despite the mass obliteration on screen, an obvious sequel is set up at the end. But the filmmakers may have overplayed their hand and sunk their own damn Battleship. Game over.

Distributor: Universal Pictures
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Peter MacNicol, Hamish Linklater, Jesse Plemons
Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriters: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber
Producers: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Duncan Henderson, Bennett Schneir, Scott Stuber
Genre: War / Action
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language
Running Time: 129 min.
Release Date: May 18, 2012 (US)

 

Tags: Scott Stuber, Bennett Schneir, Duncan Henderson, Brian Goldner, Sarah Aubrey, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Peter Berg, Jesse Plemons, Hamish Linklater, Peter MacNicol, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch
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7 Comments

  • astrangersmyth on 19 May 2012

    Although the reviews have been considerly awfull toward this movie! I just had to find out for myself. After seeing "John Carter" a few months back and its disapointment at the boxoffice, "John Carter" was a good movie in my own opinion. Taylor Kitsch "John Carter" and Liam Neeson "The Grey, Unknown" and Director Peter Berg "Hancock" and Rihanna's big screen debut was actually delightfull. I found the movie really exciting, and yes it might of lacked a plot a bit but who cares, most action and sci-fi movies always lack the plot, and still become great movies. You might not cry, because this is no tear jerker, unless you just want to cry! But if you love action and aliens and the navy, you will enjoy this movie like i did. Plus it had some humor that I found not cheesy! Overall, this movie was a really exciting movie, and all summer movies should be exciting!!. Isn't that what going to the movies is all about, save those tear jerkers and love storys, for the fall or valentines day. Its summer time and that means its time for action, aliens and excitment!. I gave this movie a rating of 7 out of 10.

    • Milas Isophene on 07 June 2012

      Oh gosh, no to all of that lol.

  • batman4ever on 21 May 2012

    AGREE totally with Astrangersmyth. Love it. have seen it twice and intend to see it a 3rd time before it goes. Loved Top Gun? Loved Transformers?

    ... then you will love this film.

  • Arwen on 22 May 2012

    Completely AGREE with Astrangersmyth and Batman4ever. Saw the movie. Loved it. Can't wait to see the DVD. Movie is awesome. And Taylor KItsch was great in both his movies "John Carter" and "Battleship".

  • Arwen on 22 May 2012

    And Taylor KItsch was great in both his movies "John Carter" and "Battleship". Nit was. Taylor is a wonderful actor and he is great in these two movies.

  • Shaks on 25 May 2012

    Good review. I find it to be a fair assessment of the film. I absolutely LOVE Taylor Kitsch, and while I don't know how well suited to these sorts of big action films he is, I do know that he has talent and the potential to grow even more as an actor. I think he could be spectacular, honestly. I think Taylor did a great job in the film. In fact, to me he was the best in the movie. I think he unfortunately has been a victim of just okay-though-huge blockbuster-films.

    As I said, I love Taylor, but I am also a filmmaker and --I think-- I know when a movie is great, good, okay, or bad and this movie was just okay for me. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. I was a tad disappointed because I thought it would have been better than it was but I can't quite put my finger on what disappointed me. I saw the action but I don't think I was engaged in it for some reason. Perhaps the film needed more depth as you and others have suggested. John Carter was pretty much the same. It was pretty good but not great, and it lacked some elements to make it a real thinking-feeling film. There most likely will not be a sequel to John Carter and there may not be one to Battleship either but I don't think either movie should be so ridiculed as they have been. I really would like to understand just for my knowledge as a filmmaker why Battleship didn't get people to the theatres. What exactly turned people off or never caught their interest? I never played Battleship as a kid it looked too boring, I am a 23 year old African American woman, and before I even realized Taylor Kitsch was in the film I thought it looked kinda cool. Aside from my interest in Taylor, that probably would have been enough to make me go see it. What kept others from doing the same? I mean, what they think after they've actually seen the film is one thing, but folks didn't even get that far.

  • Stapp on 28 May 2012

    Why does The Dictator and Madagascar 3 have 4 stars while Battleship has 1 and a half? I would watch Battleship a million times before I would watch The Dictator. Rather than giving a thorough analysis of the movie, I will simply say that this movie kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole entire movie with amazing action and effects. Imagination, creativity, action > plot.

What do you think?