Battleship (2012)


You Ready for This?

Battleship (2012)I feel like the greater majority of the world knew better than to bother with today’s movie.  But the greater majority of the world isn’t aspiring reviewers.  I felt it was my duty to watch this movie, no matter how painful.  Even after making that decision, I still put off watching this movie for as long as I could.  Hey, I’m not getting paid for this stuff.  It’s not like it’s a legitimate obligation or anything!  Well, as the end of 2012 came up, I decided that I needed to see this movie in case it made it to my list.  And it did … in the bottom five for the year.  What else do I have to say about it?  Find out as I review Battleship, written by Jon and Erich Hoeber, directed by Peter Berg, and starring Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Tadanobu Asano, Liam Neeson, Hamish Linklater, Gregory D. Gadson, Rihanna, John Tui, and Jesse Plemons.

Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a slacker who gets arrested for robbing a store while trying to impress Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), daughter of a Navy commander Admiral Terrance Shane (Liam Neeson).  He does not pass Go; he does not collect 200 dollars.  After his Boggle, Alex’s brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) sets his Cranium on making his brother join the Navy.  Later, Alex is dating Samantha and playing soccer, Scrabbling for a victory over the Asian team.  They then go out for a large scale version of Chess in a naval exercise against the Asians, designed to test their Stratego … I mean strategy.  During the exercises, five alien spacecraft land and throw up a force field, claiming a Monopoly on the area, taking down some of the Navy like they were Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Even though it seems like a Trivial Pursuit, Alex maneuvers the Chutes and Ladders of the ship to take over the ship, at considerable Risk.  But soon, he’ll Connect 4 ideas and develop a Clue on how to defeat the aliens, involving Pictionary and Scattergories.  I apologize for all the board game puns.  And by that, I mean I am Sorry.

It came as no surprise to me that this movie was stupid.  I get the feeling that they meant it to be stupid.  But what can usually overcome stupidity is fun, and this movie just didn’t have enough of it.  It had its moments, but the stupidity overrode that in most parts.  It was extremely painful to see a movie try to take itself while still being loosely based on a board game and actually using some really sweaty, contrived way to make firing at space E11 seem plausible.  But the entire premise of the aliens didn’t make any sense in the first place.  That’s probably why they chose to leave those out of the original board game.  It simply wouldn’t make sense for these super advanced aliens to have no technology to overcome their crippling weakness beyond waiting for something to fire on them so that they knew where to return fire.  Even if you can punch very hard, it seems like you might be a more successful boxer if you didn’t need to get punched first to do it.  And that being the case, why does our Navy not realize that they only retaliate and never attack first and decide we should just not attack?  Also, why were they here in the first place?  As best I could tell, their only motivation was to use the satellite thing that called them in the first place.  Is your story really just an adult version of ET?  The aliens just want to phone home?  For what purpose?  Do they need water?  Food?  Land?  Should they not find a place where they can see?  Because they can’t here.  And most importantly, why did I spend 10 minutes watching a gundamned soccer game?  It’s like watching Top Gun again with no volleyball and (thankfully) more shirts.

The look of the movie never really caused many complaints from me.  The odd moments tied with the look of the movie were more because of their strange choices in the action.  I don’t understand what the purpose was of the explosions that seemed to pull the person closer, push them back out, and then pull them back in was.  Why would a simple explosion or a singularity not be more effective?  Was it simply to pester your foe before they die?  And later, when they anchor the giant battleship and somehow make it drift like in the Fast and the Furious movies, would there really be no consequences for that?  Those things weren’t really built for that.  They made a few odd decisions with the music too.  They used a lot of good music in vaguely inappropriate places.  Like when they used the AC/DC song “Hard as a Rock” during the scene where Alex was quietly getting berated.  And then some other hard rock song while some amputees were exercising.

The performances in the movie were really hit and miss.  Taylor Kitsch has never really done anything I’ve enjoyed, but it may be the bad taste he left in my mouth when he played Gambit in X-Men Origins.  And, though his character was the hero of the movie, he was never really likeable.  It takes him until nearly the end of the movie to realize that there are consequences to his stupid actions.  He didn’t even realize it right after he told someone to unload on the alien spacecraft with a Gatling gun when there were battleships lining up to fail out there.  Liam Neeson surprised me in this movie.  Not with his good performance because he always brings that.  What surprises me is that he actually felt it was necessary to bring it to this movie.  Rihanna was also surprising in this movie just because I expected her performance to be awful like most of her music, but she was pretty decent.  Actually, I don’t know any of her music, so that’s probably unfair.  I don’t know what his name was, but as is typical with this character type, I hated the comic relief guy.

Battleship was exactly what I expected.  It was dumb.  There seems to be no reason for it to have been made, and probably less reason for me to have seen it.  The story was not great and only got worse when aliens were introduced.  And what’s worse is that the movie never really managed to reach the fun that would normally overcome that stupidity.  We can only hope that Hollywood starts looking away from board games (that have no story) for the stories of their movie, but I would not be surprised.  You can skip this movie.  Battleship gets “Sorry” out of “Backgammon!”

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