Thursday, May 31, 2012


"I liked Battleship enough to recommend it for those inclined to be forgiving of simple emotional roller-coaster-ride type of sci-fi action films."

Science Fiction, Action and Adventure

Starring - Taylor Kitsch/Lieutenant Alex Hopper, Alexander Skarsgård/Commander Stone Hopper, Rihanna/Petty Officer Cora 'Weps' Raikes, Brooklyn Decker/Samantha Shane, Tadanobu Asano/Captain Yugi Nagata, Hamish Linklater/Cal Zapata, Liam Neeson/Admiral Shane, Peter MacNicol/Secretary of Defense, John Tui/Chief Petty Officer Walter 'The Beast' Lynch, Jesse Plemons/Boatswain Mate Seaman Jimmy 'Ordy' Ord and Gregory D. Gadson/Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales

Director - Peter Berg

Writer(s) - Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber

Rated PG-13 - intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language

2 hr., 11 min.

I’ll admit this right up front: I had no intention of seeing Battleship at the theater. I had the same impression about this film that many others had. Based on the trailer, this film looked like a Transformers-clone and – although I am a fan of the Transformers trilogy as the ultimate guilty pleasure – I wasn’t interested in a copy-cat film this soon after Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). Well, timing is everything as they say and two things came about that allowed me the pleasure (sic) of seeing Battleship: I was on vacation and I had nothing to do on Tuesday on which day all films are $5 at my local theater. Was Battleship worth even $5 dollars? Yes, but I don’t think I would have missed out on anything seeing it at home; especially since there were only five people in the theater with The Bride and I to witness the Battleships kicking alien ass! Whoops! I didn’t mean to spoil the ending!

Seven years earlier, NASA has transmitted a super-amplified signal to a distant “goldilocks” planet in hopes of finding intelligent life outside our solar system. Jump to 2012 and they get their answer… in the form of five enormous spaceships; four of which land in the waters near the Hawaiian Islands, with the fifth having hit a satellite, which causes it to crash in a populated center or Hong Kong.

Shortly before this occurs, we are introduced to two brothers. One is Commander Stone Hopper, the Commanding Officer of the USS Sampson, who is the older brother of Alex, who is currently unemployed and living on his brother’s sofa. While celebrating Alex’s birthday at a local bar, Alex gets into trouble stealing a chicken burrito for a beautiful woman at the bar; who it turns out is the daughter of the United States Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Shane. Somehow, this convinces Stone to force Alex to enlist in the Navy. In very little time, Alex has risen through the ranks and become a lieutenant and the Tactical Action Officer aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones.

There is a large international fleet on tactical maneuvers off the coast of Hawaii, when the previously mentioned spaceships crash into the waters only hundreds of yards away from a group of Navy vessels. Lieutenant Alex and a small crew take a dingy to investigate a floating section of the alien wreckage. The alien spaceships become alert and prepare to fire weapons on the surrounding ships and suddenly all hell breaks loose. The aliens create an enormous force shield around their spaceships and now only the ships within the shield are able to fight the alien spaceships. Of course, among these vessels are Alex’s ship and his bother Stone’s ship – both destroyer class vessels. Through an amazing series of dramatic maneuvering and classic cinematic coincidences, Alex destroys the alien ships and the communication satellite dishes that the aliens were attempting to use to summon their larger space fleet.

If all this sounds really dumb to you, you’d be correct! Oddly, it doesn’t matter one whit while watching Battleship because the enormous energy and sheer enthusiasm of the film’s cast and creators beat you into submission until you find yourself loving every minute of the action almost despite yourself!

As with all the alien invasion films that have been released in the past few years, Battleship offers no explanation as to why the aliens suddenly start blowing up the surrounding ships. The reason we assume that they came to Earth at all was because we beamed them a message into space at their planet and they arrived in answer to that message. Unfortunately, we’re never told what the message was that was beamed to their planet; but is it too much to assume that it was a peaceful message? So why all the hostility? Well, they do land right smack dab in the middle of several Navel battleship fleets during a war exercise. I guess with all those big guns pointed at them, the aliens didn’t take that as a precursor to friendly conversation.

All joking aside, the battle sequences are quite exciting and because the aliens use a projectile like weapon, the battleships actually have a fighting chance. Not much of one, as the alien munitions appear to be almost infinite, but at least they have a fighting chance. One funny and odd thing about the alien projectiles – which fire whole at the ships, embed themselves into the hulls of the ships and then explode in synchronized succession – they look a lot like the pegs that were used in the original MB Battleship game to mark hits and misses. I can only assume this was intentional; but I’m a little surprised I didn’t hear any snickers in the (admittedly small) crowd in the theater.

Battleship did not do well at the box office in this country. It only pulled in around $25 million dollars in its first weekend in the United States. With a reported $209 million dollar budget, Taylor Kitsch is already becoming known as a blockbuster killer. Between the disappointing John Carter and now Battleship, they say he can’t act and isn’t a strong enough actor to carry a major motion picture. I disagree with this assessment. Taylor is fine as a male lead. In Battleship, they went right for the James T. Kirk type if hero; the selfish bad-boy, who straitens out and learns leadership and teamwork in the military. They overdid the bad-boy stuff early in the movie; almost to the point of making him completely unlikeable. But his character does win you over eventually. Liam Neeson was obviously used to sell the film in commercials and have a “name” on the billboards, as he is sadly underutilized in the film. He has only a handful of scenes and he comes off as a one-note character as a result. The rest of the cast are good enough so that you root for them to victory, but none of them really stand out either.

The special effects are excellent to good. I liked the design of the ships and in particular the smaller ships. The large rolling tank-like spheres were cool and the destruction they unleashed was quite impressive. The alien’s attack was very defense oriented, as they only went on the offensive when attacked. I assume because there were only four spaceships, they felt they were outnumbered and had to wait until they could get their message into space for alien reinforcements.

I liked Battleship enough to recommend it for those inclined to be forgiving of simple emotional roller-coaster-ride type of sci-fi action films. If you want deeper, headier science fiction, look elsewhere. If you want lots of alien gun fights and explosions, with a feel-good ending straight out of the first Star Wars movie, than by all means watch Battleship!

TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 8 Cinematography – 8 Script – 7 Special Effects – 10

VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 6 Emotional – 8 Involvement – 9


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