Battleship is what’s wrong with Hollywood. I have no problem with movies with mindless, simple plot-lines but at least show some effort rather than throwing $200M+ at the screen and hope people merely call it good.
Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction
Universal | PG13 – 131 min. – $34.98 | August 28, 2012
Directed by: Peter Berg
Writer(s): Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber (written by)
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson
Theatrical Release Date: May 18, 2012
Features: All Access (PiP), Second Screen, Featurettes, Alternate Ending, Digital Copy, DVD Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 42.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
After watching Battleship, the latest film to show that Hollywood has completely run out of ideas, I couldn’t help but recall John Travolta’s opening dialogue in Swordfish: “You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit. Unbelievable, unremarkable shit.” Granted, it might be hypocritical to quote a movie like Swordfish but it is apropos in this situation. Obviously going in, I knew this would be an uphill battle, pardon the pun, to get through but I at least had hoped it offered some surprises… I was sadly mistaken.
The “story” follows Alex Hopper (TAYLOR KITSCH), a young man whose life has gone wayward despite prodding by his older, more responsible brother, Stone Hopper (ALEXANDER SKARSGARD), a Navy Commander. Alex lives on his brother’s couch and has little direction going on.
In Hollywood fashion, despite being a jobless loser, he’s able to finagle the heart of hot women the latest is blonde bombshell Sam (BROOKLYN DECKER) who is at a bar one night with a craving for a chicken burrito but the “kitchen” (i.e. bar microwave) was closed. To prove his affection, and to get her number, Alex offers to get her one at the convenience store and bring it back. Unfortunately that store has just closed and in desperation decides to commit felony burglary, breaking in through the roof (crashing to the floor). The police are quickly on the scene but Alex, being the Prince Charming he is, runs with all his might, taking taser fire left and right, to get Sam her burrito. Don’t know about anyone else, but it brought a tear to my eye.
Meanwhile, remembering this movie is about… something or other, we get some space techno-chatter where NASA has discovered a planet far away that might have the same properties as Earth, so they’ve established a satellite that can carry a transmission in the hopes of creating some kind of contact with an extra terrestrial. As a side, did I mention this movie is called Battleship? Just letting you know you didn’t accidentally click on a Transformers review.
What follows is some more dumb plot points and these evil ET’s slamming into Earth with plans to to take over and bring over, through the signal, more of their fellow… aliens. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s up to that slacker Alex and his gang of merry men, and girl in the case of Rihanna, to save the day. It’s entirely believable, I mean the guy did manage to give a girl a burrito after all!
I wouldn’t have a problem if it at least provided some entertainment value rather than inane, strung-together so-called plot points and lame, half-assed/clichéd, so-called character development. Instead the story is really, really stupid and the acting is even far worse. Let’s begin with the man Hollywood seems to be desperate to make into a superstar: Taylor Kitsch. The young man whose career took off on the fan-favorite series, “Friday Night Lights”, is having a career whirlwind after appearing in the box office bust, John Carter. AS far as his performance in Battleship: eh, he’s not bad yet his character is so bland and uninteresting, it’s really hard to care about his, or the others, outcome.
The supporting cast is just as unoriginal as our hero. You’ve got the much maligned Rihanna in a small role with primarily one-liners that don’t even sound good in the trailers; Brooklyn Decker playing the prototypical gorgeous love interest who you haven’t a clue why she would even be with the protagonist (doing a B&E for a burrito isn’t charming); rising star Alexander Skarsgård as Kitsch’s brother isn’t bad but he doesn’t have a whole lot to do and exits early on that he makes little impact; and finally Liam Neeson who apparently has not seen a screenplay he hasn’t liked with such a brief appearance that when he re-appears in the film, you forgot he was still around.
The other issue I had is that rather than giving the film some focus either on a plot or characters, even for a summer flick, it seems director Peter Berg wanted the audience to see every bit of the purported $209M budget in each and every scene. Apparently only a minuscule amount was spent on the screenplay which was written by John and Erich Hoeber who previously wrote Whiteout, Red and the upcoming Red 2. I can’t place too much blame on either of them because how do you even begin to write a movie based on a board game? However, making it a mere carbon copy of a Transformers movie wasn’t the best move.
In the end, Battleship is all pizzazz and absolutely no substance. Outside of one sequence towards the end, which was then quickly abandoned since I think even the writers that it was dumb, bears little (i.e. no) resemblance to the board game which begs the question: why the hell even make the movie in the first place? I’ve rarely come across a movie which has absolutely no redeeming features: the characters are weak, the plot inane and ridiculous and just the all-around entertainment value isn’t there. Sure, there’s a bucket load of money that was spent between the production value, visual effects and advertising, but it amounts to nothing.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This release comes with a glossy and reflective slip cover. Included inside is a download code for either the UltraViolet Digital Copy or a Digital Copy Download via iTunes; wish studios like Warner Brothers and Sony would go this route…
Alternate Ending Previsualization (7:33; HD) – This is an alt. ending, which wasn’t filmed, that ultimately was not used. One of the reason they didn’t use it was, get this, it would be too expensive to do. Yikes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
All Access with Director Peter Berg (2:19:31; HD) is similar to Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode where a host, in this case Peter Berg, guides the audience through the film with picture-in-picture footage and tidbits about the movie-making experience. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
USS Missouri VIP Tour (20:10; HD) shows around the ship at the center of movie providing background on the vessel and interviews with the crew members. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Preparing for Battle (11:09; HD) tries to explain why and how the hell they came up with the idea to turn the board game into a feature film.
All Hands on Deck: The Cast (11:40; HD) – This featurette introduces us to each of the major players. In between behind-the-scenes footage, Peter Berg and the cast talk about one another. A bit of a yawn but it does show that they at least had fun working together.
Engage in Battle (6:58; HD) is a two-part featurette on shooting at sea and on the ships and the difficulties that come with them.
Commander Pete (5:46; HD) is a fun featurette where we get to see Peter Berg’s directing style and how he works with the cast. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
The Visual Effects of Battleship (11:30; HD) shows just how much went into doing all the VFX scenes in the movie. No doubt there’s a lot of talent especially from ILM, it’s unfortunate there wasn’t a story to match it. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Second Screen – This is Universal’s signature feature where, using your Tablet or computer, can check out additional features such as “Alien Tech 3D Model Turntable Explosions” where, while the movie plays, can check out the different components of the alien crafts. There’s also the “All Access” feature as well as something called “Flick View” that allows users to compare storyboards, animatics, etc via your tablet and TV screen. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Also included is a standard-def retail DVD Copy.
Previews – Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, Death Race 3: Inferno, Dead in Tombstone, The Five-Year Engagement
VIDEO – 4.75/5
Battleship plots and fires onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The 1080p high-def transfer looks incredible with amazingly sharp detail levels and color array that looks smooth. There are no signs of any major flaws which is to be expected especially from the juggernaut of a budget.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The movie might suck but like the Transformers Blu-ray releases, Battleship has some of the best audio around. The 5.1 DYS-HD Master Audio track is fantastic showing off the incredible sound design done during both the action scenes and the quieter moments as well. The dialogue levels coming from the center channel is great while the other speakers get used especially during the more action-oriented sequences. The LFE channel isn’t left to the sidelines either kicking on to provide for a more theater-like experience.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Battleship is what’s wrong with Hollywood. I have no problem with movies with mindless, simple plotlines but at least show some effort rather than throwing $200M+ at the screen and hope people merely call it good. Thankfully the North American audiences weren’t buying it since it only made $65M so hopefully that sends a signal to Hollywood that people expect more. With the Blu-ray, it at least provides for excellent audio/video transfers and there’s a fair amount of features to give background on how it was made.