Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of BATTLESHIP (2012)

- Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language.
- Starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Peter MacNicol, Hamish Linklater
- Written by Erich & Jon Hoeber
- Directed by Peter Berg
- Running time: 2hrs 11min

When I first heard that Hollywood was going to make a big screen adaptation of the classic Hasbro boardgame Battleship, I laughed for 20 minutes straight.  What the hell, man!  Then I thought that maybe it could be a cool HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER type of movie.  But when the first trailer came out, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Spaceships?!?  Aliens?!?  Seriously?  Wow!  So I was going into this knowing that it was going to be stupid beyond all belief.  Anyone expecting anything more than lots of shit blowing up deserves to be bitch slapped.

So, yeah, they try to put characters in the movie, and a story too.  It goes like this:  Taylor Kitsch plays Douchebag (that's what I'm calling him anyway) is a loser with no ambitions.  He breaks the law by trying to impress blonde bimbo, played by Brooklyn Decker.  It works because she ends up dating him.  Douchebag's brother (Skarsgard) is in the Navy and makes him join.  6 years later, Douchebag can't get the nerve to ask Bimbo's father (Liam Neeson) for her hand in marriage.  And then...  Yeah, pretty stupid, huh?  I didn't come to a movie called BATTLESHIP to see a bunch of shit that I could've watched on 90210.  I want to see explosions and aliens and what-not!

After about 33 minutes of bullshit, the aliens finally attack (there's a short sequence in the beginning that sort of explains why, but not really).  It's while Douchebag and his brother are in the middle of the Ocean with some Destroyer ships for a training exercise.  A Transformer (that's what it looks like!) falls into the water, then it starts blowing away ships while surrounding them with a force field.  Douchebag must prove himself that he's a great man by winning a battle against these things.  Oh yeah, and there's a bunch of other crewmen (one of them played by pop star Rihanna) and a few other subplots involving a disabled vet with no legs and a cowardly scientist.

No surprise, but the story is garbage.  No one is going to care about these assholes.  But surprisingly, the action sequences aren't too bad.  In fact, some of them are crafted pretty well.  The visual effects are all CGI, but they get the job done.  The aliens reminded me of the alien toys in SMALL SOLDIERS but they have goatees made of spikes.  I liked some of the ship designs too.  There are these weird electric sawblade things that can cut an aircraft carrier in half.  That was impressive.

Once the action started, I was actually enjoying myself, in a guilty pleasure, giddy 12-year old kid kind of way.  I recognized that it wasn't great cinema, but was still wowed by some of the destruction.  Some effective scenes:  One where Douchebag and his crew search for a fugitive alien on their ship, and one when a ship sinks and the camera follows the action in a seemingly unbroken take (I am a sucker for those).  More effort was put into the action scenes than anyone should have, so yeah, that caught me off guard.  And I did enjoy when the old sailors were preparing the 70 year old Battleship to AC/DC's Thunderstruck.  That moment is going to win some viewers over. 

But in the end, we still have to deal with shitty characters that no one cares about.  The acting?  Pretty non-existant.  I am just not impressed with Taylor Kitsch.  He's looks like he's got nice skin and is perfectly toned, but has the personality of a dildo.  Sorry, that wasn't fair to all the other dildos.  Liam Neeson is phoning this one in.  Brooklyn Decker is so generically hot that you can almost see clear through her.  Rihanna playing a soldier is about as convincing Rob Zombie playing a princess.  There are other goofy character actors  mugging the camera as well, but are so insignificant I don't really need to mention them.

The alien plot doesn't make any sense, but I guess it all looked cool.  It didn't really bother me that this had nothing to do with the boardgame (thought they do kind of play a version of battleship during one brief sequence).  It's an alien invasion movie that should've been called something else. Depending on what your mindset is, this could pass as a guilty pleasure.  In fact, I can see this doing well at the Box Office because this is exactly what a lot of casual moviegoers want.  Dumb escapism.  And it certainly is that.  But I would like a movie that actually gives a shit about what's going on.  And to prove my point, after the big finale, it abruptly cuts to an awards ceremony leaving many questions unanswered.  And don't bother staying after the credits.  Yes, there is a scene, but it's so stupid and it tonally doesn't fit anything that was in the movie before that.

So should you see it?  The story is shit, but it has some cool explosions and spaceships and aliens and whooo!!  If that's all you want, then you might give it pass.  Even though I felt the visual effects portion of the movie was done well, I can't fully recommend it cause it's not that good of a movie overall.  Good action scenes don't make a good movie, but it could be a guilty pleasure...  Just know what you're getting into before you go see it.   

**1/2 (out of ****)

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