Home > Movie and Anime Reviews > Movie Review Battleship (2012)

Movie Review Battleship (2012)

Battleship Movie Poster

Battleship board game to bored game

It survives a bad start to finish as an okay movie.

Deep within my childhood memories is the board game Battleship. You secretly arranged your ships on a grid and your opponent guessed where to send his attack. If he hit your ship too many times it sunk. It was like playing blind Checkers. Hasbro (the creators of the Battleship game) must have thought Battleship was another piece of nostalgia worth bringing back and centered an entire story around that one moment… when two fleets can’t see each other and attack based on loose data and intuition.

It feels as if the movie Battleship takes that one original concept and  thinks it’s enough to create a story around and then slaps on every movie cliché they can think of to fill in the rest. You’ll find yourself saying ‘didn’t I see this before?’ and before long, realize that you’ve been sucked into the Hollywood milk-that-remake zone. See, they got over with Transformers when they ditched the original spirit of the cartoon, turned up the single original idea of transforming vehicles/robots and added a horn-dog hero (the average American hormone-crazed teen), huge explosions, jiggling eye candy and an overly-loud soundtrack. Same deal here.

The majority of the budget went to the CGI, which is impressive. The alien designs are awesome.  The naval combat is rendered in amazing detail. The graphics just…um…rock. They skimped on the script and the creative story-telling department. Matter of fact, that department was closed throughout the entire developmental process. I won’t go overboard (!) since it’s meant to be a simple-minded summer blockbuster based on a distant childhood memory. If you like you movies loud and senseless, but fun to watch, go ahead, see this movie.

SEMI-SPOILERS and RANTS AHEAD

This next section is pretty much for those who have seen it or want specific details on this flawed translation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I almost bailed 15 minutes in because it was so bad. It’s the horrible first act used to introduce the main character and give us the starting point on his journey from buffoon to hero. My first thought: why do they always have to make the hero an jerky a-hole? For me, he never shook that persona- even after they dressed him up and gave him a buzz cut. Insert overly hot chick played by Brooklyn Decker (she must be Meagan Fox’s blonde sister), running around with clown-boy Taylor Kitsch as unlikable navy washout Alex Hopper.

Liam Neeson is shown in the trailer but gets very little screen time. Rihanna does her thing and plays it straight as a non-sexy (aww-shucks) targeting officer. She’s actually the best thing about this movie and I’m only saying that because she’s believable in her role.

The aliens look like the soldiers in HALO (the videogame) and are one-dimensional fodder- even though they’ve been established as totally bad-ass early in the movie. All that coolness has been offset by the Hollywood cheap-out of a simple and stupid weakness that gives the good guys the advantage. It’s War of the Worlds and Signs all over again.

Here are a few highlighted horrible moments

1. The clown becomes a captain in two easy steps.

Okay, the captain and XO (Executive Officer) are killed and our buffoon asks who’s in charge?  The bridge crew has to tell him that he’s next in line. Because no one in the Navy knows the chain of command- especially the guy who’s third from the top. Right.

2. Give us an order so we can say No.

Next, a crewman says something like “Please, sir, give us an order we don’t know what to do.” And so- his first order is a suicide run. Everyone disagrees and his order isn’t followed. So far, so good as captain.

3. 1st contact with aliens and they send in the idiot

Yay. We are going to approach the aliens and make first contact. Who do they send? The buffoon, their best gunner (Rihanna) and the third guy. They all pile in a raft. Yeah, we only sent one boat AND we send the one character incapable of doing anything right. But wait, he’s now also the captain. Imagine who’s after him if he dies.

4. Who needs a gun or knife when we have this trusty flashlight?

They capture/find the first alien hostage/specimen and the room fills up with gawkers. No one thought to have any kind of weapon. Not even a lead pipe. Of course the expected foolishness ensues. See ID4  as a reference and every other movie when the assumed-dead monster springs back to life to wreak havoc.

5. Deploy, Search and Destroy

And more, the crew has to search the ship for a possible alien intruder and the ‘new captain’ is going to lead the search party. Right because he’s not needed anywhere else- better that he runs around with a machine gun. They must taking cues from Star Trek and be used to seeing Kirk do everything.

6. The Aliens want our women, water or whatever.

Usually there’s some obligatory reason the aliens attack us. It been proven by scientists that anything anybody could want from Earth is more abundant in space and easier to get than fighting a war. I don’t even think this movie took the time to explain WHY the aliens are fighting us.

7. Tender targeting terminals taken from the Terminator.

A brief tirade on their cornball targeting system. In their alien Heads Up Display, threats appear in red and non-threats are shown in green. If you pointed a gun at the aliens, it would appear red and they would fight you. Run out of ammo and your gun might turn green and the alien would ignore you and keep it moving. It’s a cool idea ripped from the Terminator, which works in a logical cyborg way of thinking… context. As a humanoid alien invader, why would I suddenly disengage because my HUD no longer sees a threat? Makes no sense, but it does lead to lots of moments when a character should be killed and is spared in a let-him-go-he’s-harmless suspenseful moment.

8. Moth-balled, using depends, but still dependable.

SPOILER, SPOILER,SPOILER

An old battleship turned museum is reactivated and proves to be our last hope. I think we all know the condition of floating museums.  Unless you believe the planes in the Smithsonian Sky Exhibit might really fly if you just add some jet fuel.

I could go on longer, but even I get tired of nitpicking bad movies. And it is  bad for us earthlings too since five alien ships almost wiped out our entire armed forces. The main strategic goal: don’t let the aliens call home for reinforcements. The bad news: no one would ever  send out scout ships and not send more- even if they never heard from the first group again. So expect more aliens to come. I just hope when they do arrive it’s not in a Battleship sequel. I’m not a movie critic, I am simply critiquing a movie.

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