YOU SUNK MY ALIEN SPACE VESSEL!
Review by Paul Preston
Is the board game Battleship still popular? Or is it retro now? Is making a movie of the game marketable more to adults who USED to play the game as opposed to children? Kids play videogames, no? This is probably why the movie “Battleship”, based on a board game, looks and acts like a video game.
So let’s say I AM the demographic for this film. Well, I did not care for “Battleship”, one of the loudest movies I’ve ever seen. Now, I’m going to attempt something never done before, and something that should not be done without supervision. I’m going to reference Shakespeare when speaking of “Battleship”, but this movie was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
This was an ‘80s movie with 2012 special effects as the simple naval war games strategies of the game are expanded to now include an intergalactic battle. Aliens (yes, aliens) have received a message from NASA and come to attack the Hawaii area and set up a communication platform to communicate with their home planet and invite all of their friends to come kill us. Standing in their way? Battleships (and Destroyers and Aircraft Carriers, but no submarine, surprisingly…)
They did refer to the source material right down to the shape of the alien bombs. They looked like the little white pegs you play the board game with. My favorite scene was actually a full-on board game reference. At one point, the battleships are trying to track down the alien ships without radar, so they map out the ocean using weather buoys, and then fire into the nothingness HOPING to hit their target. That’s just like the game and it was creative and clever and suspenseful. Made me think none of that outer space stuff was necessary, and you know what? None of that outer space stuff was necessary.
The score was from Steve Jablonsky, who did the score for “Transformers”, and it really feels like he didn’t write another score here. He just took the “Transformers” score and spaced it out accordingly so it would time out perfectly to enhance the action in this movie, too. But you gotta admire the idea of working once, and stretching as much use and money out of your work as possible.
There’s a blonde guy in this movie that we call “Fake Matt Damon”. His name is Jesse Plemons, and he was on “Friday Night Lights” and here he plays a crewmate on the USS John Paul Jones. His character doesn’t do as much as Matt Damon would, therefore you don’t need Matt Damon, so I thought the idea of getting a cheaper, faker Matt Damon was a good call.
And there’s also a fake Ving Rhames! Real life double amputee Gregory D. Gadson plays an Army vet who finds his way into the battle to save the world, and he has that stone face Marcellus Wallace had in “Pulp Fiction” and the low, emotionless drawl, too. He’s kinda the guy who they go to to describe the plot. He says things like, “You’ve gotta go down to that command center and retrieve the communicator” and “You’re gonna drive this car now”, just in case SEEING everything that was happening in the movie wasn’t enough for the viewer. Fear not, fake Ving Rhames is here to EXPLAIN it all for you, too.
Overall, the action is…I don’t know…TRYING so hard, that it loses impact. Explosions become so commonplace, they grow stale and routine. And the actors don’t do much to make this an actor’s movie. Their M.O. is just “Stay out of the way of the special effects, please. Thank you.”. I’m still rooting for Taylor Kitsch to be a great leading man, he underplayed John Carter very well, I thought. But he doesn’t do much to shake any opinions of him that he’s just a stoner/surfer type with exotic good looks. Liam Neeson’s collecting a paycheck and Brooklyn Decker was sorely underused, and that can’t be said about every model-turned-actress. She’s very funny in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, but the lost image of her in “Battleship” sums up her role here. They literally turned on the fan and the slo-mo to accentuate her beauty She’s got comedy skills and I hope they get used more than propping her up in Michael Bay wastelands as “the pretty girl”. I’m talking to you, Megan Fox.
Directed by: Peter Berg
Release Date: May 18, 2012
Run Time: 131 Minutes
Distributor: Universal Studios