I’ve been ambivalent about Battleship since the very notion of the film was conceived. Did anyone truly believe a film based on a board game where two people shout out coordinates would work? Director Peter Berg didn’t as his movie has very little to do with the Hasbro game, and even that doesn’t make it a good movie. It’s a great Syfy television movie but that ultimately proves you can just wait for it to air on cable.
Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is one of the Navy’s biggest screw-ups. He gets a chance to prove his mettle, and impress his girlfriend’s father, when bizarre aliens land in Hawaii and attack.
Berg desperately tries to bottle his own brand of Michael Bay aesthetic with Battleship and on that level the film is a success. The film is non-stop explosions, naval battles and general chaos that are shot well. There’s no jerky camera movements or rapid circling of the camera, Berg puts shows off the epic battles scenes in scale and allows the audience to actually see what is going on.
Sadly, that’s a small consolation for what amounts to a big-budget theatrical B-movie. Sure the battles are well done but the audience never truly cares about the characters because of the non-existent plot and atrocious script. The above synopsis is the entire plot that’s needed as the first ten minutes introduces you the characters and the rest of the film’s two-hour runtime (yes that’s correct, 2 hours) is all about the alien battle. Who are these aliens? What do they want? We don’t know because it’s never explained. All we know is the aliens look like Halo characters in their armor and without it look like big headed dog-people with weird porcupine goatees. Yes, someone actually designed an alien to rock a goatee. There are about two major plots going on, varying between “meh” and “what is the point?” There’s the Hopper storyline on the boat, where the majority of the screen time is, and then there’s a plotline about Hopper’s girlfriend Sam (Brooklyn Decker) taking a hike with some disgruntled soldier. That’s the worst plotline of the movie as it adds absolutely nothing to the story! Decker’s character is the damsel that no one knows is in any danger. Really, she’s never put in a truly dangerous position and you never fear for her safety. Not to mention, her own boyfriend doesn’t worry about her so why do we? The last issue has to be the question of tone. Is this a comedy or a drama? I wouldn’t know as the audience I saw it with laughed throughout the runtime and there are some truly tense scenes ruined by a bad line delivery that makes the entire scene funny. Berg would have been better off delivering an action comedy because there’s just no way to take this film seriously.
I mentioned bad line delivery and that’s rampant throughout the entire film. Kitsch continues to deliver the same squinty-eyed rebel character we’ve seen in John Carter and Friday Night Lights. If Kitsch has any potential as an actor he must not be interested in elevating the already crappy material. That brings to light the fact that all the characters are written with one or two character traits but none of the actors attempt to produce a performance. Alexander Skarsgard as Hopper’s brother is in the film for about fifteen minutes and between hiding his accent he’s simply delivering exposition on the relationship between the brothers. Liam Neeson makes a cameo as Admiral Shane, giving about ten lines. Decker is by far the worst written character. I didn’t know her name till an hour and a half in and she just looks scared.
Battleship will play great next to Saber Tooth or Megashark vs. Giant Octopus. It’s boring, it’s uninspired, and it’s just a glorified attempt at recreating Michael Bay’s work. Wait for television.