Movie Reviews: Battleship




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     Universal (2 hrs. 31 min.)
     A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.
     Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Rihanna
Bottom Line:

Jonathan "WydeOpen" McMillan

During the many fun nights I enjoyed playing Monopoly at the family table, I've never had the thought, "Hey, why doesn't Hollywood spend $200 million making a live-action, CGI saturated movie based off a less fun game?"

Enter “Battleship,” and surprisingly enough, it's not as bad as one would expect. Especially considering Hasbro based movies have been like the game Battleship – a "hit" or "miss" proposition.

The plot, like the game is simple. Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) plays Alex Hopper, a bad boy who's attempting to straighten up his act, and impress his girlfriend's Navy admiral father by following in his big brother Stone's (Alexander Skarsgard)  footsteps by joining the Navy. It isn’t long before Alex gets the chance to prove himself when evil aliens invade Earth. 

Predictably, these aliens seriously outgun us, and upon their arrival they immediately follow the alien invader’s playbook – destroy Earth à la “Independence Day” with Transformers-like CGI weaponry.

As with “Transformers,” one of "Battleship’s" highlights is the humor that paces the film from one predictable scene to the next. 
But when the story requires intensity, emotion is manufactured by using slow-motion panoramic close ups (straight out of the Micheal Bay's summer school of cinematography) to alert the audience to the gravity of the situation.

Confused? Think back to any climatic scenes in “Bad Boys” or “Transformers” and picture Will Smith and Martin Lawrence or Shia LeBeouf with the sunset framing their stoic looks.

Those scenes are engineered to get the audience engaged by invoking the, "We're gonna go in there and kick-ass despite the odds," attitude of films complimentary to the American military. Director Peter Berg (Collateral) gets us to pick a dog in the fight. Instead of just waiting for the predictable resolution of the film, we actually cheer on the hero’s moxie, and feel patriotic pride while the aliens learn how serious we are about Pearl Harbor, where (not- so) coincidentally, most of the film's action takes place.

The cast, overall does an adequate job even when handicapped with the script's sometime hokey dialogue. No one actor's performance is mentionable, other than to say that Rhianna's big screen debut wasn't horrible. Liam Neeson is seriously overqualified in a role overtly reminiscent of Bruce Willis' “Armageddon” character.

“Battleship” borrows so many elements and clichés from hit films of the past 30 years, i.e. “Top Gun,” “Independence Day,” “Alien” and to a lesser “Pearl Harbor,” that it edges close to spoofing those respective genres. But it never crosses that line and works (please know I'm using this word generously), as it's own story because it borrows so much from those better movies from the same (more or less) genres. It's a Frankenstein monster of a movie which sum total is stronger than it's parts. Although rated PG-13 for violence, “Battleship” actually can be an entertaining family outing for those without young kids.



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