Dir: Peter Berg
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård,
Brooklyn Decker, and Liam Neeson
Battleship sinks on big screen
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 6/13/2012
When I first heard about Battleship last year I didn’t know that it was based on the board game I grew up playing at first. It didn’t surprise me though when I found out Hasbro was producing it considering the success of the Transformers franchise. I must admit that nostalgia plays a role in my film watching decisions, and since one of the guilty pleasure films from my childhood is Clue, also based on a board game, I was interested. However, after watching it’s impossible to not correlate Battleship with the Transformers films in their similarities; both films utilize gargantuan amounts of CGI and explosions, and also display a leniency with the master volume control that would make Spinal Tap jealous. Where Battleship succeeds though is in the utilization of actual Navy personnel and the fact that the screenwriters crafted a good third act.
The film begins with a NASA project, taking place in Hawaii, which is transmitting a signal to a “Planet G”; this planet is in another galaxy but closely resembles the environment of Earth. And we all know what happens when you transmit a signal to another galaxy…aliens! Before Earth knows it, a crew of aliens crashes down in the Pacific Ocean near a Navy fleet readying for a friendly competition of war games. However, during the alien descent one of the ships gets damaged and crashes off course into a Hong Kong skyline, which resembles footage from 9/11 eerily. Before the military can react, the aliens trap some destroyers in a force field and the battle begins. The setup is a little haphazard, for instance these technologically advanced beings with their spaceships that traveled light years arrive on Earth and flop around in the ocean and utilize what seems to be primitive targeting systems. There are some nice ode’s to the actually gameplay and design of the original board game and the incorporation of battle strategy adds a nice thematic element in-between the loud explosions.
Battleship also starts out with some interesting characters, but unfortunately these characters become overshadowed consistently throughout the film. The film surrounds two brothers, one responsible (Alexander Skarsgård) and the other irresponsible (Taylor Kitsch), who both join the military after a botched pick-up of a beautiful woman (Brooklyn Decker) lands the irresponsible sibling in trouble with the law. Kitsch nails the self-absorbed, egotistical character with ease, Skarsgård overdoes the stoic, honorable military character, and supermodel Decker hides her lack of acting skills with her stunning beauty. At first these characters together, along with Liam Neeson who plays the Navy Admiral, compose a pleasant mix of humor that allows the characters to play off one another surprisingly well. But just when the characters begin to get their footing, the film separates them into different environments and storylines. There is a nice side story that involves Decker as a Physical Therapist and involves a real-life retired soldier who is struggling to find purpose while dealing with a severe battle injury.
Peter Berg directs Battleship as if he’s taken a class conducted by Michael Bay called “How to Direct A Summer Blockbuster”. Berg, nevertheless, seems to understand the dynamics of character and plot better than Bay, however only slightly in this instance, but still enough to attract the viewer into the film. Although Battleship has a few elements going in the right direction at the start, in the end the special effects, explosions, and loud soundtrack keep the film from surpassing anything more than another overdone summer film.
2.75 out of 5.00