Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Battleship Review



To be honest with you, I really wasn’t looking forward to Battleship at all. After all, it’s based on a board game and the trailers just made it look like Transformers but without actual Transformers. Even though the movie is only two hours, but at times feels a lot longer, in the end I ended up somewhat enjoying myself. Not enough to recommend Battleship completely, but if you’re bored on a Saturday afternoon and want to hit a matinee that isn’t The Avengers…you may get enough fun for your $10 if you can check your brain at the door and know you’re about to see a pretty dumb movie.

The beginning of the movie really worried me. When a big budget summer tentpole decides to open its movie by recreating a viral Youtube video of the dumbest burglar ever with its big star, it’s a huge warning sign. People in the theater were laughing at the scene, but I don’t know how many thought it was funny (it really isn’t) or how many realized that they were recreating the video nearly shot-for-shot. They even matched the back of the convenience store and him falling on the shelves. Thankfully, despite some sluggish pacing, the movie does pick up from that point on.
Battleship stars John Carter himself Taylor Kitsch as a former slacker turned Navy Lt. named Hopper who was shoved into the service by his Commander brother (Alexander Skarsgård). Hopper wants to marry his hot girlfriend Brooklyn Decker, but she’s unfortunately the daughter of the tough as nails Admiral played by Liam Neeson. That casting right there should at least get you a little interested in the movie as Liam Neeson would make even Twilight be somewhat watchable.
During a multi-national series of Navy war-games off the coast of Hawaii, alien ships crash into the ocean after Earth sent a signal to the Goldilocks planet a few years earlier. When the ships put up a huge force field cutting off the entire Hawaiian island chain from the rest of the world, Hopper ends up inside with just a couple of ships to save the day.
For a movie based on a board game, they did what they could to put together a story. Yes, they do actually “play” the game in one pretty cool sequence at night between Hopper’s ship and a couple of the alien ships, and thankfully no one utters “You sunk my battleship” in the film. That’s not to say there isn’t any eye-rolling dialog, as there’s a really bad exchange at the end of the movie, but it must’ve taken a lot of restraint to leave that out.
Where Top Gun was a showcase for Navy Pilots, Battleship is really a huge bit of promotion for the rest of the Navy. Real sailors where used throughout the movie, and I saw it in San Diego; a huge Navy town. When the somewhat unbelievable finale begins, which uses some real WWII veterans and the U.S.S. Missouri; you can believe the theater almost shook from the cheers when people realized what was about to happen. This is the Top Gun for Navy Sailors, and if you are one or have a friend or family member in the Navy the positive portrayal of the service in this movie is probably worth seeing it for.
As fanboys we always use other movies as a gauge for quality. At the top tier are the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avengers, etc. and at the crap level is stuff like Batman & Robin and Transformers 2. Obviously Battleship is nowhere near the classic quality, but it is definitely better than Transformers 2. Not nearly as awesome as Michael Bays third, or even the first, outing with the bots, but it’s definitely a more entertaining ride than the second movie if only because there is something of a story here.
Battleship isn’t a movie you’ll remember a year from now. It’s a disposable summer effects spectacle with decent enough effects, big explosions, booming sound, and Brooklyn Decker cleavage to make it worth a matinee showing if you know you’re going in for an amusement park ride for a couple of hours. I actually ended up enjoying Battleship more than I thought I would, but that isn’t saying much when I was kind of dreading the experience. It could be worse, it could be Dark Shadows.

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