Battleship (Film Review)

Battleship is a movie that starts dumb, and gets progressively dumber as it progress.  It’s high on unintentional comedy, and low on excitement, originality and particularly, a decent plot.  It’s a cliché-fest in which you’ll have no sympathy for any of the characters, or be able to decide if you’re supposed to be on the side of the good old US Navy, or the (apparently) really terribly nasty aliens.

So here’s how the plot of Battleship plays out.  Scientists discover a planet in another galaxy that has the potential to host life in the way Earth does.  They design super-mega communication devices that allow them to beam messages to this planet.  Apparently it works, as five spacecraft make their way to earth, one of which collides with a satellite, breaking into pieces which scatter across the globe, most notably in Hong Kong, where it causes devastation.  Meanwhile, the other four ships land off the coast of Hawaii, where the annual RIMPAC War Games event is taking place between rival navies (although to make things simple, it’s just the US and Japanese navies that actually get screen time).

After that, the aliens and the navy have a nice chat about life on each other’s planets then watch Jersey Shore together before parting ways and exchanging emails.  Okay, not really.  Unsurprisingly, they don’t get along, and proceed to spend the next 90 minutes blowing each other up in new and (un)exciting ways.  It seems that the craft that crash landed in Hong Kong was designed as a kind of communications ship, and since it is now destroyed, the aliens intend to use the communication devices in Hawaii to send for back up.  As you can imagine, America is well upset about that, so their navy, lead by Taylor Kitsch (who plays a dick) and a Japanese captain who Kitsch has developed a rivalry with which may result in him being kicked out of the navy, but was rescued after his ship was sunk and knows a way to track the enemy without radar or satellite.

Anyway, enough about the plot.  And if I’m being honest, you can pretty much fill in the gaps yourself, there’s no surprises coming your way.  Battleship is just really, really rubbish.  As I mentioned before, Taylor Kitsch becomes the hero in the film, but he’s actually totally unlikeable.  At the beginning of the film he’s drunk and while trying to impress a girl (Brooklyn Decker), he breaks into a garage to get her a chicken burrito before being tazed.  His brother thinks he’s a dick (because he is), and tells him he’s joining the navy.  That Kitsch’s character ends up becoming captain of the one remaining ship tells you just what happens to his brother.  Kitsch has already suffered a career setback after John Carter’s horrific flop just a few weeks ago, and this movie is not going to do him any favours either.  His character actually says (without irony) ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this’, AFTER his brother has been killed and the aliens have destroyed any number of ships.

Which leads me on to savaging the script and the other characters in the film, all of which are rubbish.  Decker plays an army physio, who just happens to take a hike up the hill where the communications satellites are with an army veteran who feels he is no longer a man after losing both his legs in battle, and coming to terms with his new prosthetic limbs.   They inevitably become involved in the effort to stop the aliens, and of course the veteran finds himself and leads the way.  One of the biggest problems with the script is that it makes the aliens out to be the bad guys, when it’s actually the US navy that fires the first shot.  It may only be a warning shot, but they don’t tell the aliens that, and it basically gives them no choice but to fire back, which they do of course, with their technically superior weaponry.

The CGI in the movie is actually very good, with the alien space craft looking particularly shiny and wonderful, and the aliens themselves having a reasonably unique look.  But lovely explosions and green screen wizardry do not a good movie make, and Battleship is most definitely not a good movie. It’s far too long, it’s clichéd to the point of parody, and most importantly, it’s boring.  Director Peter Berg has made some good films, with Friday Night Lights (which is one of the great American sports movies) and The Kingdom, but Battleship is not a career highlight.

This is one dull and uninspiring movie, and in a year packed with blockbusters that seem certain to deliver (Avengers Assemble, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Skyfall in particular), Battleship seems set to sink without a trace.  Miss!

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