by Christian Becker
From the moment I saw the first trailer, I knew Battleship would be nothing special. Not just because of it being based off of a board game, but because it looked so similar to the Transformers franchise, and I was shocked to learn it was not a sequel (but not to find out it’s made by the same studio!). It just looked like a lot of explosions and loud noise, which turns out, it is. But there is a little bit of fun to be had with it, just not enough to make enjoyable.
Lets start with the acting. Even if your story is pretty bland, sometimes it can be saved with the right actors who can deliver the performances needed to save it. Taylor Kitsch is best known for his role in the hit television show Friday Night Lights and he was pretty believable in John Carter (despite it being a box office flop). But he does nothing special in this movie. He’s not bard, just remarkably average. Where they went really wrong on the casing was putting Rihanna in this thing. I never really enjoyed her as a music artist, but after this role, I know she should stay that way for sure. Liam Neeson is of course fun to watch, but he gets so little screen time that he eventually becomes an after thought when thinking about the movie. They use his star power to push the marketing of the movie forward and then when it comes to his role in the actual film, it’s very minimal. The one who actually surprised me the most was Brooklyn Decker. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t giving an Oscar worthy performance or anything, but she really stood out to me. The girlfriend role in most movies barely gets any thought or detail put into her, but Decker’s character actually gets a real back story and reason for being where she is and doing what she’s doing, and for what it all called for, she really gives it her all.
The action this film has to offer really needs to be something good. Really, that’s the reason people are going to see this thing anyway right? No looks at the trailer and says “I think this has a real interesting story and fun characters I’d like to get to know, LETS GO SEE IT”! No. They go because they see giant ships blasting away at alien invaders and because they hear loud noises going along with it. This is a summer movie that’s reliant on it’s action, and for an okay amount of time it delivers the goods. However, after a while things get very repetitive. After seeing a Naval destroyer ship rotate it’s guns and blast away at it’s enemies four or five times for the past couple hours, you really being to feel bored, because you get a giant case of “been there done that” with the action put on display. There is a point where the aliens get on the ship the crew is forced to fight them hands on, but these scenes are so short that it comes off as forgettable in the end. At the end of the day, when you have an action movie where the action doesn’t impress all the way through, you have a problem.
Now I didn’t expect the writing for this movie to be top notch or anything, but man, was this a bad screen play. There was even a point of the movie where one the characters blurts out “who talks like that?!” We know from the first scene he’s in that Kitsch plays a screw up who can’t get his life together, yet we get a constant reminder every time a new character comes on in the first half saying things like “you have so much potential, but you waste it all!” (or at least that’s a paraphrase). I will give the writers/director (Peter Berg) credit for making it feel at least a little like a Battleship movie. The missiles shot at the ships look like pegs used in the board game and at one point the Navel team pulls up a grid where they are able to track down their enemies where abouts, which works as a nice throwback to how the game is played. To bad none of these guys have placed Battleship the game in real life or else maybe they would have had an easier time with the system.
Not that every movie has to play by this rule, especially an alien invasion movie. But I would have liked to have known a little more about these alien life forms that where coming to overtake our planet. There is no main bad guy to root against or even feel connected to in anyway, just a group of intergalactic predators coming to wipe us out. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what their over all plan even was. Maybe it was all just an extermination plot to get us off our planet so these guys have somewhere else to live. All I got from this experience was humans good, space creatures bad.
What could have been something cool and forgettable, will only go down as loud and forgettable. No one will remember this movie come the end of the summer, expect for maybe what a wasted opportunity it was for Hasbro to produce another hit franchise. Some of the action, explosions and Ship battles were exciting to watch, but there comes a time where that becomes old and boring and we want something else. More than just the standard “boom boom, look at what I can do with my computer”. It should also have heart and originality. This is just one summer idea that didn’t work and I hope it’s a lesson to filmmakers out there that we as an audience want more than just explosions and poor characters.