Friday, May 18, 2012

Battleship Review

What's up Internet?  I've been following Battleship with a hint of skepticism and hesitation.  When it was first announced, several years ago, I groaned along with the rest of the world.  Are we already through all the book, television, and comic book adaptations that we need to turn to board games to fuel Hollywood?!  And then I started to read about Peter Berg's passion for the U.S. Navy and how it would be an integral part of his film.  Then I learned that aliens were involved.  Suddenly Battleship was becoming something more complicated than a simple board game.  The film debuted first in other territories to big box office numbers but less-than-stellar reviews.  All of these factors coalesced into relatively low expectations for me (even though I try to go into each film with an open mind)...and I'm happy to report that I enjoyed this film much more than I should have.  And I'm okay with that.

Basic plot: we send a signal to a distant planet that is similar to ours (using a giant satellite).  A few years later five "objects" fall out of space; four land near Hawaii and the fifth breaks up in the atmosphere, scattering pieces all over the planet.  Various navies from around the world are gathered at Hawaii for war exercises; three destroyers are dispatched to investigate the fallen objects.  One of the ships emits a pulse that creates a bubble around Hawaii, effectively trapping our protagonists (Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, and for some reason, Rihanna) inside with the alien vessels.  Commence explosions.

Battleship is just plain fun.  That's all it is.  It doesn't require you to think...and doesn't ask you to either.  Suspension of disbelief is something that many films require of its viewers.  If you don't suspend your disbelief within the first five minutes of this film then you probably will hate Battleship through its full run time.  I elected to roll with the blatant missteps in logic, erroneous plot developments, missed opportunities, and incredibly cheesy moments and just have a good time.  And that's just what I had.

As I type this I find myself cringing, but Battleship is similar to The Avengers in that its an action film that aims to entertain.  I found myself smiling quite a bit as I watched insane explosions and expensive-looking visual effects bore their way into my corneas.  And for me, that's what summer popcorn films are about.  There is a place for The Dark Knight and Inception...and there is also a place for The Expendables and Fast Five.  What's great to me is that I can fully recognize the flaws of this film, but I chose to ignore them at the time. There's just something fun about watching very real technology take on weaponry and tech from a distant planet - and not just tech, but people as well.  Its quite obvious what the screenwriters were doing, but there are definitely themes revolving around international cooperation and people bonding over and working together to defeat an enemy greater than themselves.

Battleship has some fantastic action sequences that are very well-staged and executed.  Events are clear and clean and free from the all-too-often-used shaky cam.  The visual effects were outstanding (with one exception being the collapse of a highway system), even if they had a heavy Transformers vibe.  But what doesn't these days?  I'm a sucker for great action scenes in movies and Battleship has plenty.

Remember the cheesy moments I mentioned earlier?  Well, there comes a point in the film after which references to the board game are dropped occasionally.  Yes, I rolled my eyes, but at that point I had already given myself to the cheese factor so much so that I just didn't care.  In fact, one of the more gripping scenes of the film involved a grid-like system almost identical to that of the game, with ships moving around the grid trying to avoid detection.  And I freaking loved it.  I'm not afraid to admit that Battleship contains one of my favorite moments (so far) of any film this year.  ***If you care about spoilers I would stop here...but I doubt many of you will.***  Our heroes lost their last of the three ships and are virtually out of options to stop the aliens from contacting their planet.  The USS Missouri, a seventy-year-old battleship, sits tied to the dock as a floating museum.  The team boards the vessel, and with the help of an elderly crew of veterans, gets the Missouri up and running, despite World War Two-era technology and a steam engine that hadn't been run in ten years.  There was cheese all over the place, but I loved the image of these elderly men giving their all for this one last mission to save the planet.  And it was glorious.

The performances were perfectly adequate; Liam Neeson is in the film for probably less than five minutes total, Brooklyn Decker exists merely to add a small tad of tension to the situation even though she's never really in danger, Alexander Skarsgard is fine but isn't around a whole lot.  I'm a fan of Taylor Kitsch and quite enjoyed him in his lead role (even if his character arc was more than predictable).  Seeing him transform (maybe pun intended?) from the n'er-do-well to the calm, collected captain was fun to watch.  Oh, and Rihanna is in this film.  Can anyone remind me why?

I'm sorry if I sound crazy by this point.  Battleship is just a fun time, despite the myriad problems it has.  I could probably right another whole review talking about the plot holes and great leaps in logic the films takes at times.  I know there will be plenty of people out there who think its an abomination of cinema and they may be right.  But at the end of the day what I care most about is being entertained.  And on that front, missions accomplished (I figured I'd end with some cheese too).

Battleship is a very fun, if not incredibly flawed popcorn action film that asks that you turn off your brain.

The Bearded Bullet.


  1. Anybody missing out on a lack of Michael Bay flick this Summer, will feel so much better with this loud piece of junk. And when I mean loud, I mean LOUD!! Lame action movie that did nothing new and it's writing is terrible. Oh well, I guess that's why they call it Summer. Good review Kyle.