- Special Effects
Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Liam Neeson, and Jesse Plemons
Cinematography: Tobias A. Schliessler
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Of all the awesome movies that were coming out this summer, Battleship didn’t even make the top 10. The previews were trying to make it seem like this was the new Transformers, a franchise that I already hate. Basing an action movie off of a children’s toy may seem like a good idea to make money but in reality it kind of sucks. There were a few things it had going for it though, that made me not want to avoid it like the plague (like I did with the last 2 Transformer sequels). For one thing it’s a big dumb action movie which means lots of explosions and little plot to distract from the cool images. And I was still holding out hope that Taylor Kitsch would throw off his magnetic force for crappy big budget films (cough… John Carter), especially since he was awesome as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. There’s also the not so small matter of Alexander Skarsgård, who I love from True Blood. But after reading all the early reviews for this movie, I came to the conclusion that Redbox was the way to enjoy the Battleship experience – the happy medium where paying for a terrible movie doesn’t feel so wrong because it’s only a $1.29. Unfortunately Redbox now has to wait 30 days to get new releases (which seriously sucks), meaning that I had to shell out a whole $5 to watch this on-demand. With such low expectations that I would actually enjoy watching something based on a board game with little pegs, I sat down ready to shake my head in annoyance because I paid so much for something worth so little. Hopefully Alexander Skarsgård is shirtless for enough of the movie to make it worth my while.
When the scientists on Earth discover a planet in a solar system similar to ours that could possibly sustain life (due to it’s position with the sun), it seems natural to send a signal into deep space to try and contact whatever alien species may be living there. When we get a response from them, it’s not exactly the “we come in peace” that we’ve been hoping for. A reluctant Navy officer, Lieutenant Alex Hopper, is on board one of three battleships that is caught inside the force field the aliens put up around their landing site. After the visitors prove hostile, it is up to Hopper and the surviving battleships to outwit the invaders and save the planet.
The Action/ Special Effects
Action fans, you can rest easy. Battleship at least holds up when it comes to explosions and cool CGI. Lots of stuff gets blown up and all of it looks awesome. All the aliens look a little funny, what with their porcupine beards and supposed relation to lizards. But they know how to destroy some shit, with all their crazy gadgets and super suits. All of the ships kind of remind me of the stuff from Transformers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because they look really great. The “battleship game” sequence even had some suspense as they tried to figure out where the enemy ships were hiding (get it?). The film will definitely keep you entertained if you like shiny things to distract you. I certainly enjoyed watching the spectacle.
There were several aspects of this movie that I didn’t enjoy because they were too cutesy. But one of the things that made me really happy was the respect that the film showed to veterans. I can’t really talk about the circumstances without giving away the ending, but suffice it to say that the young guys need a little help to fight the technologically advanced aliens. They are able to do so because of the Navy veterans who, even though they are retired, stepped up to the plate to help their country. I’m the granddaughter of a man who served in World War II, and this definitely affected me. You can’t help smiling when an old guy starts yelling at the stars of the movie to move their asses.
The Aliens Are Undecided
This part of the movie seriously confused me. We watch a lot of the action through the eyes of the weird lizard things, and it shows them decide what poses a threat and what can be left alone. When something needs to be destroyed the object/person turns red, when there’s nothing to worry about it turns green. What I don’t understand is how the creatures make these decisions – because they don’t seem to make logical sense. For instance, most of the time the aliens don’t destroy any humans – especially if they aren’t moving or show signs of fear. But a completely harmless column that is holding up a freeway? Destroy it immediately, it is obviously a threat. There’s also no real explanation as to why they leave the battleships alone unless they are attacking them directly, because the aliens almost immediately destroy an air force base even though the planes are not making any moves against the unwelcome visitors. I suppose I was expecting the aliens to be more hostile and seek to destroy the entire planet just because. The fact that they were a bit choosy in their violence was just silly.
Alexander Skarsgård’s Accent
As I mentioned before, I’m a fan of True Blood. I’ve also (surprise, surprise) read the books that the series is based on. I love Alexander Skarsgård as Eric, the very old former viking vampire who is sexy as hell. In the show, his accent works perfectly because it’s got this slightly foreign sound, a very subtle hint at his Swedish heritage. But as an American Naval officer with Taylor Kitsch as his brother, it seriously doesn’t work. He sounds exactly like Eric with a tan, and it was hard for me to believe him in this new role. I really thought it would be Kitsch that would irk me, considering his previous film failures – but I was wrong. The only good thing about Alexander Skarsgård’s performance was when he took his shirt off after a soccer game.
Questions About Co-stars
If you look at the trailer (found below), it shows a bunch of clips of Liam Neeson. If you’re a fan of the man like I am, then you are probably expecting to see him in the movie. You are wrong to assume that because he stars in a lot of the trailer that he appears for more than a few scenes in Battleship. He’s an amazing actor and has proved himself a great action star (see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Taken), so why isn’t he in more of the film? There’s also the question about Rihanna. She’s not a bad actress (considering her main profession is making hit songs), but it seems like they went out of their way to make her stand out. Her first scene is playing soccer with the rest of the cast, and though everyone else is wearing a uniform she’s in a black t-shirt. Did they think we wouldn’t know who she was without an umbrella in her hand or something? She’s the only woman on the battleship, so I didn’t think they really needed to try so hard to get us to notice her. She’s Rihanna and she has some fun lines, we get it.
The Way Too Cutesy Beginning/Ending
In an effort to make us care more about the characters before all hell breaks loose, there are a bunch of (somewhat unnecessary) scenes that show us what a lovable screw-up Taylor Kitsch’s Alex Hopper is and how we should just chuckle at him. While it is pretty funny watching Kitsch get tasered for stealing a chicken burrito, it also takes away from the scenes we all actually want to see – where shit gets blown up. It also makes it hard to understand why Alex Hopper is a Lieutenant in the Navy, because everyone always talks about how much he sucks at being a disciplined soldier. I suppose it’s an attempt at making a character arc, but it really doesn’t add much to the story. The ending of the film is a little too neat and tidy as well. The Earth was just invaded by a bunch of aliens, shouldn’t we be a little bit worried about the rest of the lizard dudes showing up to look for their buddies? For all the violence and cool effects, this was a (not so) serious disappointment.
Overall: 2 stars out of 5
It’s unfortunate that Battleship suffers from the action movie curse. If it’s a great action movie, it features the perfect combination of laughs, action, thoughtful plot, and cool stuff to look at. Only one of these things needs to be off balance in order for the whole film to crumble. Battleship suffers from trying too hard to make laughs and not spending enough time explaining some of choices they make for the “hostile” aliens. I found myself wondering if the lizards were really trying to murder the human race or if they just wanted to make a phone call when their space ship broke down. When you’re watching a violent action movie, you don’t want to be wondering if the good guys are being a little too harsh trying to destroy the bad guys. It just leaves too many questions. While I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would, it’s still not worth the $5 I paid for it.
Buy It, Rent It, Skip It
If you’re a fan of lots of explosions and cool alien ships, this isn’t a bad movie to rent. But buying it is going a little too far. I’m still mad that I didn’t just wait for it to appear in Redbox. Even though I enjoyed certain parts of it, I probably will never watch this film again. Which is definitely saying something, considering I paid for 24 hours of viewing. Clearly we all should learn a lesson from watching Battleship: avoid anything with Taylor Kitsch as the lead star and hope that Alexander Skarsgård is playing a hot Swedish guy.