Yet another pointless entry in the massively stupid, totally bottom of the barrel idea generator that Hollywood is currently using, of basing movies off of old children’s toys and games, comes Peter Berg’s Battleship. This time based off of the popular Hasbo board game “Operation”. JK! But seriously, when I was a kid I don’t remember the Battleship board game being Navy vs. Aliens. Hmm.
The way that Peter Berg directed this film was shockingly close to Michael Bay’s work. Everything about it was nearly identical. The enormous sweeping helicopter shots, the ‘splosions, the terrible acting (ahem, I’m looking right at you Rihanna), and of course, it’s not a Michael Bay film unless its basically military porn, and in this case it was rated “Triple USA”. But wait, it’s NOT a Michael Bay film. Ah screw it. It’s a Michael Bay film, the same way Poltergeist is still a Spielberg flick with Tobe Hooper’s name on it (yeah yeah, I know, how dare I compare Spielberg to Bay. But come on now, Spielberg is a god. We all know it. I just needed to make my point). Battleship was essentially just Pearl Harbor mashed together with Transformers.
Basically Battleship is about this dude named Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) who, in a nutshell was a screw-up until his brother (played by Alexander Skarsgard) forces him to join the Navy, where he falls in love with the Admiral’s (Liam Neeson) Daughter (Brooklyn Decker), and ends up becoming Senior Officer after the aliens sunk all the other Battleships. But wait, where did this attack come from, you ask? Good question. Scientists have created a set of satellites in Hawaii, near Pearl Harbor, where the entire film takes place, that beam a signal to a planet that has been discovered in another galaxy, that is the exact same distance from a star as we are, therefor making that planet a replica of Earth, which the scientists dub “Planet G”. We make contact, Aliens are hostile, they attack, and BOARD GAME!
This brings me to my biggest complaint in the entire film (aside from it being such an annoying 2 hour commercial for the Navy), these aliens are from a planet that is exactly like ours, meaning they have the same amount of gravity, air, and sunlight, yet it is revealed that their weakness is just that: sunlight. Sunlight? Really? That idea made no sense to me, and just seemed so ham-fisted.
Other minor complaints: there’s an entirely too ridiculous scene towards the end of the film where real-life 70 something year old retired Navy vets commandeer the USS Missouri, which is currently used as a Naval Museum, and take her out to sea to sink some enemy battleships; the scene depicting the cinematic equivalent of what the actual board game does, while kind of cheesy and funny at first, eventually felt like it went on way longer than it should have; and finally, Liam Neeson was barely in it nor did he punch anything. Ugh. What a waste.
You’ve still got to give credit where it’s due, though. The special effects looked fantastic in Battleship, despite there being too many shots of giant alien spacecraft popping up out of the water. The sound design, as well, was absolutely massive, engulfing you in sheer 7.1 channels of churning water, twisting metal, and Rihanna sporadically bursting into a rendition of We Found Love while launching a missile to F-12. Well, okay, that last part technically didn’t happen, but I’m sure it still would have been really loud.
Battleship ended up not being the awesomely bad film that I had hoped it be, but more-so just a really terrible film. It’s entirely too long, is far too up it’s own ass in Naval propaganda, and is too much of a rip off of Pearl Harbor and Transformers to have it’s own identity. It actually gets pretty boring despite being a two hour action film. But if you love Michael Bay films, and are totally into cheesy militant propaganda, then chances are you’ll like Battleship. But for me, I’d rather just play the actual board game. It’s more fun.
I give Battleship two Perd Hapleys and half of a Chicken Burrito:
By Richard Pepper