Review: Battleship (12A) / Director: Peter Berg / Screenplay: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber / Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna / Release Date: April 11th
Actor turned director Peter Berg has made some solid mid budget films. Amongst them Welcome to the Jungle and Very Bad Things. When word came down the pipe that Berg was directing a film based on the timeless board game Battleship, I kind of hoped for the best. Sadly Berg decided to forget his solid dependable style and channel Michael Bay. For all their faults Transformers and GI Joe are based on toy lines that actually have a mythology and a back story, they have things on which to build a motion picture. This film shoehorns in a couple of references to the game but ultimately Battleship has none of these and boy does it show in the worst film of 2012 so far.
The film begins with the authorities discovering a planet much like Earth in our solar system and sending a radio signal which is represented by a gigantic laser beam fired off into the cosmos. We then meet aimless loser Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) going to absurd lengths to pull the daughter of a US admiral (Liam Neeson) and getting in trouble doing so. His brother Stone Hopper (Alexander Skaarsgard, and yes that’s the character’s name) has had enough and forces younger Hopper to join the US navy. What follows is some of the best recruitment footage the US Navy could have hoped for. The message seems to be that if you join the US navy there is nothing but sun drenched parades, tasty admiral daughters, football games and grunts that look like Rihanna (who is awful by the way). Hopper is an idiot and even he makes lieutenant and you can too! Battleship even includes rock scored montages of the amputees injured in battle that now hang around in Hawaii and look well cool with their prosthetic limbs. The navy fleet go off into the sea on an annual training exercise and Hopper is about to get thrown out due to his irresponsible ways. All that changes when an alien invasion takes place. The aliens decide to launch their attack from the sea, possibly responding to the rude humans who fired a laser at them as a means of first contact. Most of the fleet is wiped out and of course Hopper has to man up and take the alien threat down with his dwindling crew.
Battleship could have been great if it had been scaled back into a sweaty tense movie based on one ship and had actual writers who understood dialogue, motivation and plot. Instead Battleship presents us with a race of aliens with illogical motivations and baffling technology all launched just to provide the audience with endless explosions and special effects. If you thought water and the flu were flimsy methods of defeating aliens, you are in for a real treat with the alien weakness here.
Poor Taylor Kitsch, he tries his best and has a sort of likeable laid back charm but he is saddled with some of the most cringe worthy dialogue ever written. The character is so dumb that he just becomes a bore and all sympathy evaporates. Battleship makes John Carter look like Lawrence of Arabia. Everyone else in the cast just looks either embarrassed or clueless. When the audience laughs more at the dramatic scenes than they did through the whole of 21 Jump Street then you know you are in trouble.
There is a camp turn of events in the final act which beggars belief and is the most hilarious thing I have seen for a while, for this scene alone it’s almost worth seeing. However it’s too insulting to its audience to really rise above the awfulness and be so bad it’s good.
If this makes money, the history books will look back on this as the turning point where it all went wrong for Hollywood. We will finally be rewarded with that Lego and Ker-Plunk movie. Please vote with your feet and do not see this, you and all of us who like film deserve better.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10