I was not too hopeful when my daughter convinced me to go watch Battleship during a recent visit to London. The action movie is based on the board game from Hasbro and is directed by Peter Berg who did a good job with the interesting Will Smith superhero Hancock. The real star of Battleship are the special effects and action sequences which are sufficiently exciting to warrant a watch, especially since there are few sci-fi movies involving aliens space-crafts duke-ing it out on the oceans with our naval warships.
The main actor is Taylor Kitsch who had just recently starred in the mega-bomb John Carter that lost Disney $200M. He just seems awkward in the role of a misfit with high potential who is made to join the navy by his elder brother played by True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard ( he gives a great performance) because it was the only option left. The gorgeous Brooklyn Decker is Taylor’s love interest and plays the daughter of Admiral Liam Neeson in a uncharacteristically dull performance. I’m not too sure why Rihanna is making her film debut in a minor role with lackluster dialog.
Of course, Lieutenant Kitsch somehow manages to show his superb leadership skills and saves the world from attacking aliens – this was much better done by James Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek movie re-boot.
The nasty aliens come to earth because they receive a signal from earth’s naive scientists who are eager to contact sentient life after discovering an earth-like planet. The alien technology borrows heavily from another Hasbro franchise, that of the Transformers.
You can only enjoy Battleship if you suspend your critical brain functions for the duration of the movie because there are quite a few gaps in reason that the viewer has to jump over in order to stop from falling into chasms of absurdity. First of all, you’d think that any interstellar aliens would be able to send crafts that can fly after landing rather than hoping around in the ocean. These aliens can produce an impenetrable force-field but do not have energy weapons and so have to fire exploding and penetrating canisters. Does anyone really believe that our Pacific fleet will just idly wait outside a force-field for a whole day without trying to pour all their considerable fire-power into breaking it? The worst stretch of credibility is trying to make the viewer accept that a museum battleship can still start up after 70 years or can be carrying live ammunition or can have dozens of world war 2 veterans handy to man it. In order to give humans a fighting chance, we have to be able to imagine that the aliens who come from an earth-like planet evolved to the top but cannot stand sun-light or that one of them wearing a killer battle-armor can be defeated in-hand-to-hand combat by a one-legged old war veteran.
Granted that some of the absurdities were necessary to bring about the fun of having both sides blindly firing into different co-ordinates in-line with the board-game but overall, it is a lot to swallow.
This is meant to be a feel good movie in the tradition of Independence Day but lack the competent writer and great actors. You will still want to applaud the heroism of humans and the stupidity of the aliens, but wouldn’t want to watch it again. I give it a one and half stars for the special effects.