When you see theaters advertising a Thursday midnight showing, you know the studios think they have a blockbuster on their hands. The latest summer blockbuster–to-be is Battleship. Being a Hasbro film, it made me a little nervous about it since I generally don’t like movies made (in part) by toy companies like G.I. Joe – The Rise of Cobra . Not having played with G.I. Joe dolls as a child I wondered if I was missing a certain nostalgia that would have increased my enjoyment of the film. To be fair, I did like the first Transformers movie but the other two lost my interest. Thinking of other board games that became movies, I did love the movie of Clue when it came out, although almost any murder mystery in a big house, is basically a game of Clue. Speaking of board games, I did play Battleship and I wasn’t sure how they were going to approach this movie since the game has two people sitting on opposite sides of a plastic game board putting pegs in sunken ships which doesn’t really sound like a great movie plot. I figured two warring nations would be engrossed in naval warfare, but that might get a little old. Battleship chose to go a different route and instead it’s everyone (multiple nations) battling alien invaders.
Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch as Alex Hopper, the irresponsible and hotheaded little brother of naval officer Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard). Stone tells Alex to get a job, and some direction and the film quickly transitions to a short haired Alex who is now an officer as well. Alex hasn’t been working and playing well with others and is about to be thrown out of the Navy. He is also in love with the Admiral’s (Liam Neeson) daughter but can’t stop fighting long enough to ask for her hand in marriage, as she is demanding.
Naval exercises are in progress of the Hawaiian cost, and are interrupted by alien invasion from a small group of ships. These alien vessels have traveled to earth after a signal was sent to a planet similar to Earth that appeared to have the requirements to support life. One of the ships creates a force field separating most of the fleet from the boats the Hopper brothers are on. In the end, the goal is to annihilate the aliens before they annihilate the navy and signal their friends to assist in wiping out mankind.
Watching the movie, you would think that Michael Bay had directed this film, but it was actually Peter Berg. Berg however, must have taken Michael Bay’s “how to blow stuff up” class because there are numerous and massive explosions throughout the film. If you’re looking for a big budget action film with big bangs – this is the film for you. And thinking of it that way, I truly did enjoy myself.
If you think about it much further you might (and many will) pick apart the major plot points. The main issues I saw with the plot are first and foremost that the clearly superior weaponry of the aliens should have taken out the navy in under 5 minutes. While there was much destruction and plenty of deaths, I don’t think there would have been any survivors. The second issue is the idea that the younger Hopper brother would have made it out of boot camp. With his issues with authority and conformity, he didn’t stand a chance. Overall, the plot is very contrived and you can often pinpoint details that are clear set ups for dramatic points that will come later in the film. I also wanted a lot more info about the aliens and their ships, which oddly jumped through the water like giant metal fish.
Having said that, I enjoyed the movie thinking it was going to be full of explosions and in no way reasonable even if you ignore the aspect of the aliens all together. What I can’t understand is how anyone could make a movie based on the game Battleship and not have someone exclaim “You sunk my battleship!” I bet the Blu-ray special features will reveal someone thought of it and decided it was just too cheesy. They did pay homage to the game with a grid-search pattern complete with someone on the deck to alert the crew of a hit.
My fellow movie goers were extremely into the movie clapping and cheering throughout – a nuisance to me in most movies. They laughed and applauded the most predictable of plot points. Everyone seemed to really enjoy Liam Neeson’s portrayal of the Admiral, along with all of the explosions. If all the good things I mentioned don’t appeal to you, the Admiral’s daughter (Brooklyn Decker) might. She spends a significant portion of the movie in short shorts and a tight tank top, and does have to run (and bounce) to save her life. Overall, Battleship was a hit and a miss depending on what you’re looking for. Those looking for a creative plot that’s believable will call it a miss. Those who want to see stuff explode and some popcorn style action will think it’s a hit. For me, it was a cross between Independence Day and Transformers whose plot needed a lot more development, but were nonetheless enjoyable like this one.
Battleship tickets on sale now!