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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John Carter (2012)


You Are Ugly, But You Are Beautiful!

The inspiration behind seeing today’s movie is going to be hard to explain, mainly because I had no inspiration to see this movie whatsoever.  I saw the trailers and thought, “Yup.  Looks like a movie.”  And that was it.  I saw a couple of people on Facebook talk about how great the movie was, but I would not be swayed.  One friend asked me if I wanted to see it, and I said no, but probably would’ve gone anyway had I not been at work.  When my roommate got a free ticket and offered to pay half of mine, I decided the universe was telling me to see this movie already.  Let’s see how it did in my review of John Carter, based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon, directed by Andrew Stanton, and starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Ciaran Hinds, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, and Daryl Sabara.

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) of Virginia has died suddenly.  When he fell ill, he had sent for his nephew, Edgar “Ned” Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), but he arrives postmortem, but is given John’s diary by his butler and told that only he was supposed to read it.  His first thought is to release this book, slap his name on it, make millions, and then get a movie made about it with the guy that ruined Gambit in the Wolverine movie, but then his second thought is to read it.  It details a story about John looking for gold and finding a cave with a pasty bald dude who tries to kill him.  John shoots the pasty dude and gets transported away by the dude’s medallion.  He wakes up in a desert slightly different than the one he was already in and finds himself able to jump really high.  He meets a giant, green, four-armed creature called a Thark who is named Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe).  Eventually, a couple of airships commanded by by the ruthless Sab Than (Dominic West) pursues a ship carrying Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) into Thark territory.  Sab Than has been given a powerful weapon called the “Ninth Ray” by the pasty bald Therns and is pursuing Dejah because she is trying to escape marrying him to save her people.  John uses his new powers to save her and bring down the majority of the ships, though Sab is able to escape.  Through Dejah, he finds that he was transported to Mars.  John resolves to get back to Earth, Dejah resolves to get John to defeat Sab, and Tars Tarkas’ secret daughter Sola (Samantha Morton) resolves to follow them around and be relatively ineffectual.

This movie perplexed me.  I didn’t find the movie hard to follow as the story is not really that complicated.  What perplexes me about the movie is that it’s inexplicably boring.  But, because I’m writing a review, I must find a way to “explic” it.  It’s strange to me because it has all the components of a really cool, really interesting, and/or really fun action movie, but it never comes to fruition.  The story is an interesting enough concept.  I like the idea of a human being transported to Mars where he turns into a superhero because he comes from a place with higher gravity, allowing him to jump higher and hit harder on Mars.  I don’t really get behind the idea that he’d EVER want to return to Earth, though.  His family died long before the movie started, so he didn’t need to get back because of that.  He did have a cave full of gold waiting for him, but you know what a cave full of gold can’t buy you?  Fucking super powers!  And you want a reason to hang out with your super powers on Mars?  How about the sexy as Martian woman you just met?  Sure, their romance came out of nowhere, but who cares?  She’s hot!  Their relationship never really worked for me.  He saves her life with his superpowers, but all she’s concerned about is getting him to save her city.  A while later, he helps her up off the ground and you see that they’re crushing on each other now.  That’s how he wins her?  Helping her stand up?  Neither one of them had given the other any reason to like the other before that, so it must’ve been his ability to help her off the ground.  She was constantly trying to trick him into helping her people, and he was completely unconcerned with helping her people.  No reason whatsoever.  Though this story had elements that should entertain me, it never really did.  One of the few parts that gained some interest was the Thark tradition of letting loose some babies and having mother pounce on them and fight over them to gain motherhood.  So, with a story that never catches your attention, you’d have to rely on the action to do it.  There was lots of action, but none of it interested me, and I’m still a little curious about why.  There was a guy or two with superpowers, some sword fighting, some giant creatures, but it all eventually devolved into people randomly swinging swords and blue blood flying around a little.  That’s about it.  It could have been the look, I suppose.  Almost every setting was identical, or not far removed.  It goes from desert, to desert, to desert with some water, back to desert, then ends up in a city … surrounded by desert.  I’m sure that’s what Mars looks like, but Mars looks boring.  The CG all worked really well though.  The creatures looked like they were talking, animated like real creatures, they had personalities, weight, and lighting to all look really good.

I had been trying to figure out where I knew Taylor Kitsch from every time I saw the trailers.  I wasn’t able to figure it out until the actual movie started, but then it worked against him because Gambit was my favorite X-Man and he ruined him.  He did fine enough in this movie, but I didn’t like the character because he looked the superpowered gift horse right in the mouth.  He did introduce himself as, “Carter.  John Carter,” and I’m pretty sure no one’s ever actually introduced themselves that way.  I was a big fan of Lynn Collins from her work in her own hotness from the moment I saw her.  I didn’t pay much attention to her performance though.  I did get supremely irritated by her character though.  It takes her the greater majority of the movie to stop being a selfish bitch.  She’s basically told that Sab will kill her people unless she marries him … so she runs off.  That means he’ll kill your people!  You care enough to try to get a guy with no interest in your people to help out, but you could’ve just married the guy in the beginning and not been a selfish bitch.  She figures it out about two hours later and does it, but now John loves her and stops it from happening.  Everyone else in the movie was either forgettable, a voice of a CG creature, or both.  Most of the characters in the movie made so little impact on me that I genuinely found myself much more interested in what was happening with the giant, alien, dog-like creature called Woola.  I loved that little guy, mostly (I’m sure) because he reminded me a lot of my own dog, Jabba.  He had an oversized head, big sloppy tongue, cheerful demeanor, and tendency to lie down and go to sleep at random.  The similarities were damaged some by the fact that the dog could run super fast instead of running for a few seconds, getting bored, and going to sleep. But so disinteresting were the human characters that, in a battle between a large army of aliens and John Carter, with Woola helping out a little, I found myself ignoring what John was doing and looking to make sure Woola was okay.

John Carter is a movie that seemed to have everything, but actually offered next to nothing.  The story was in interesting idea that didn’t deliver.  The action had all the ingredients but turned out bland.  The performances were fine, but all of their characters were overshadowed by a dog.  The CG was great, but the settings all looked the same and were visually boring.  Like I said, this movie is inexplicably boring, but it’s been explicked to the best of my ability.  I would say this movie is a waste of two hours plus, so I would recommend you steer clear of coughing up theater prices for it.  When it comes to RedBox, that might be the time to give it a look, but you’ll also do well to avoid it there as well.  John Carter gets “To those who seek the solace of eternity” out of “When I saw you, I believed it was a sign … that something new can come into this world.”

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