Battleship is a board game and a movie…hooray?
As far as board games becoming movies, Battleship is definitely…one of them. With the success of the Transformers franchise I guess it was just a matter of time before more flat, two-dimensional games were given the silver screen treatment. But to be a successful mindless summer blockbuster you must check the many clichéd boxes audiences have come to expect. Let’s see how Battleship stacks up to the competition:
1) Cast a Bevy of Beautiful People: √
Director Peter Berg’s previous work (Friday Night Lights, Hancock, Entourage cameos) has left him with a treasure trove of beautiful people to work with. Taylor Kitsch plays Alex Hopper, a ne’er-do well who joins the Navy to escape his shapeless existence. Alexander Skarsgard plays his brother, Commander Stone Hopper, whose role consists of barking orders, waxing poetic about humanity and looking dashing. Rihanna is cast as a petty officer who shouts lots of one-liners. She acclimates just fine considering she isn’t given much to do. Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker appears as Hopper’s girlfriend in a fairly thankless role. Even Liam Neeson makes a cameo as the badass commander of the Navy fleet. It’s clear Berg understands this essential piece of the stupid blockbuster.
Berg must be a Michael Bay enthusiast because he knocks this out of the park. The film overstays its welcome by a solid half hour with a 2:20 run time. Also, the story is so densely plotted there is little time to care at all about any of the destruction happening on-screen. The Navy is assembled at Pearl Harbor for the annual RIMPAC maritime exercise. In a parallel story NASA has shot a communication to a recently discovered ‘earth-like’ planet. What returns is an evil alien race, hell bent on our destruction. The aliens crash land in the middle of RIMPAC and it’s up to our many naval heroes to stop them. There are also upwards of 5 sub-plots that must be resolved as well. Props go to Berg for fitting all this junk into the movie although it understandably sags under the pressure.
3) Desensitize The Audience With A Parade Of Noisy Special Effects: √√√
Industrial Light & Magic was definitely given a blank check for Battleship. The effects onslaught is actually one of the better reasons to see the movie. Although they near soul-crushing levels of excess at the climax they are rarely unconvincing (save for some very silly looking aliens.) The alien ship design is cool as they lumber through the Pacific seeking our heroes. And somehow they found a way to make images of slow, lumbering battleships mildly interesting too.
4) Find Some Humor in the Ridiculous: √
Although the script (penned by the Hoeber brothers Erich & Jon) is almost universally terrible they did manage to strike a fairly light-hearted tone throughout. The movie finds laughs with well timed one liners and unintentional comedy in some outrageously bad dialogue. It’s hard not to chuckle when a character exclaims, “Do you have the number for someone to teach you humility!? Because I lost that number.” The movie even finds a way to play an ACTUAL GAME OF BATTLESHIP (not a joke) which is hysterical. But the saving grace is a penultimate scene involving many real veterans of the USS Missouri, teaming up with Kitsch and the survivors of the USS John Paul Jones. Here, the movie finally finds the right mix of humor, blind patriotism and special effects. Unfortunately it occurs well over 2-hours in.
In all honesty Battleship is far from great but it could have been much worse. Yes it’s too long, jingoistic and self-serious for it’s own good but it does offer that certain kind of mindless escapism that only Hollywood can provide.
5) All Summer Blockbusters Must Be in 3D: X
Thanks Battleship, for only being in 2D.