WARNING: before watching this film it is advisable that you turn your brain off. And don't expect too much.
So how do I begin to write a review for a film where: 1) The trailer didn't interest me at all, 2) I've heard from everyone I know who's seen it that its rubbish, 3) It has Rihanna in it.
It's a daunting task, but I enjoyed the hell out of Transformers (2007), which I still believe is a great example of a fun Hollywood popcorn summer movie. So how well do other Hasbro toy lines translate? Let's find out.
Plot: A stereotypical British, smart sounding scientist announces that they have found a planet across the galaxy which can sustain human life. So they build some fancy radar dishes in Hawaii and send out a signal to the planet. Meanwhile: a long haired scruffy bloke called Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is celebrating his birthday in a bar with his naval brother, Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard), when… hold up, who names their first born son ‘Stone'? Rocky or Pebbles are one thing but Stone? Really?
So, Stone is calling his properly named sibling a loser when the film's eye candy Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) walks in and wants a beer and a burrito from the barman. My kind of girl! Alas, the kitchen/microwave is closed, so Alex goes to get her a burrito from the convenience store across the road, which just happens to be closed. And he's drunk. Seriously, this scene is the funniest in the movie and if the rest of this film kept this stupid tone then I would have given it a higher rating. But no. Alex gets arrested, sobers up, gets a prep talk from his brother and joins the Navy!
Fast forward a few months later and they're all in Hawaii, the brothers are on separate battleships and Alex wants to ask Samantha's father for her hand in marriage. Her father by the way is Liam Neeson (Liam Neeson), who possesses a certain set of skills and will find and kill, wait, wrong movie, he's the fleet's admiral so Alex has his work cut out for him. So some war games begin, some alien crafts with superior firepower land in the sea, create an impenetrable dome of no escape with just three battleships contained, and Alex and his crew (including Rihanna. Seriously, Rihanna) have to save the world from domination and rape of the earth's natural resources. Kind of an analogy on America's occupation of the Middle East, really.
But very few people will watch this movie for plot. This is from the people who made Transformers after all, so we want cheese, explosions, excellent special effects, corny one liners, loud rock music, slow motion flags with the navy looking cool, more explosions, faceless villains and above all, fun. Sadly the film is lacking in these thing. It drags on and by the third act I was bored. Until some old men turned up.
It's just too predictable and clichéd; from the smart British guy, the brothers looking at each other before a life/plot changing event, and the ‘alien touching the human and the human suddenly seeing the whole alien's plan to rape and pillage the earth' which you can find in Paul (2011) and Independence Day (1996 – excellent film). Plus, the aliens have goatees. Never trust a man (or extra-terrestrial) with a goatee.
First of all I am pleased to say that they worked out the grid of the original Battleship game into an interesting and kind of suspenseful action scene. The effects are great and I like the design of the alien ships, even though they reminded me of frogs. But the rest of this film is like a toast to bad acting and script writing.
The world navy meet up is called Rimpac, which although a real event, sounds a bit dirty to a reviewer who grew up watching Beavis and Butthead. Hmm, lots of men at Rimpac. But we don't get a volleyball scene; we get a soccer game with America vs. Japan. Nothing is mentioned regarding Pearl Harbor, but we have Rihanna pretty much acting like a jock on the pitch.
The cinematography is standard, but the shots of Hawaii mainly reminded me of Lost (2004-2010). As in Star Trek (2009) you see a lot of lens flare. However in JJ Abrams' movie you forget about that as Star Trek is a good movie with great characters, a witty script and plot development. This film doesn't have any of that.
Ok, so it explains why the aliens come down, what their plan is and why they erect a huge dome: but it doesn't explain why no one on the island can see it or knows about it. It shows four alien ships heading to Earth; one hits an orbiting satellite, blows up and debris hits Hong Kong and Scotland. Erm, these ships can near enough withstand cannon fire but is incapacitated by a satellite. And did the debris circle the earth to reach Scotland? If only I had turned off my brain before watching this film these things wouldn't have mattered.
This is just another film where I stopped caring halfway through, except when some retired Navy officers turned up, but even then it was ruined by lines such as: "You men have given so much to your country, and no one has the right to ask any more of you. But I'm asking.”
And then it got me thinking: on a naval base, where are the rest of the Navy? Who was looking after these veterans?
Overall Verdict: Ultimately this is just another forgettable summer blockbuster. Battleship should have not taken itself so seriously, spent a bit more time on the script and acting (Rihanna) and remained as fun in tone as the first five minutes. As such, it sinks. And if you thought that last line was bad, go and watch this film to hear a lot worse!
One final thing: there is a fun sequence after the credits
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Reviewer: George Elcombe