Battleship (2012) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Battleship is an overlong and plodding screen adaption of the Hasbro game. That this ungainly monotonous monstrosity emerged from the hands of gifted filmmaker Peter Berg, is all the more disheartening. As the film collapses from one meaningless scene to another. All hope for even a mindlessly entertaining film are dashed. Characters constantly make illogical decisions. The acting is on the level of a CW nighttime soap opera, and the screenplay is needlessly drawn out with pointless scenes and the dumbest “meet cute” sequence in recent memory. Plot threads go nowhere, while the third act twist generated an enormous amount of (unintentional) laughter. Taylor Kitsch is Alex Hopper, a mid-20’s screw-up facing jail-time for breaking into a convenience store to obtain a burrito for Samantha (Brooklyn Decker). To avoid a prison stint Alex enlists in the Navy along side his upstanding brother, Commander Stone Hopper. All is not well however, turns out Alex and Sam (even the girls have the boy names in this adolescent male fantasy), are in love much to the chagrin of her father, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). This human story is then interrupted by the appearance of an alien vessel at sea, during a military training exercise among the US and Japanese Naval Fleet.

The outer-space armada shows up right at the 30 minute mark, and from then on Battleship begins to sink under its own weight. The script runs out of ideas early on and the actors aren’t charismatic enough to hold our attention. It all becomes a glossy product with no identifiable characters or soul. Out of the three lead stars not one is a legitimate actor. Kitsch, a former model, is as wooden as a cigar store Indian. Rihanna is attractive but sorely miscast. Its Brooklyn Decker who posses the most charisma and seems poised to have the longest screen career of the trio. As dull as I felt Kitsch’s performance in John Carter was, he is even less expressive here. The surprise is that he and director Peter Burg have had a long and successful relationship.

Above all Battleship is one great big disappointment. I will admit that my curiosity was ignited by the coming attractions trailer, then my skepticism began to grow as the marketing outright mimicked the Transformers blue-print. In terms of direction, Berg is a strong enough filmmaker to not have to ape Michael Bay’s territory. I will give credit to the special effects gurus. There are also a few very effective images that seem right out of Spielberg and Kubrick heaven, most memorably, the image of Kitsch being dwarfed by the monolith raising out of the sea. I think a crucial error on the part of the creative team, is not giving us a clear-cut villain or any sense of why these extra-terrestrials have landed in the first place. Battleship is the kind of infantile movie that ends with multiple characters giving one another nods of approval, even though siblings and countless service men and women have been slain. Oh, and by the way, where is the President or any other branch of the military in all this? How does the public react to an alien invasion at sea? These are just a few of the many questions that I had time to think about as my eyes glazed over and my mind began to wonder during the course of the punishing 130 minute running-time.

Director: Peter Berg
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker

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