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. – $29.98 | 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
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
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 – 2.25/5
Preparing for Battle (11:09) 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) – 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) is a two-part featurette on shooting at sea and on the ships and the difficulties that come with them
Previews – Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, Death Race 3: Inferno, Dead in Tombstone, The Five-Year Engagement
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Battleship is presented in its original 2.40 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and, for the most part, looks good. There are the occasional bits of normal artifacting for a DVD but the picture is clean and sharp enough. Nothing extraordinary here though it should be good enough for most home viewers.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track provided is simply put, boomtastic. The dialogue levels are nice but the biggest feature is during the action scenes which put on a great show with an awesome LFE channel to go along with the front and rear channels which make for a dynamic track.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
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.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman