The next in the line of Hasbro properties to be adapted for the big screen, Battleship has a lot of live up to, in terms of box office draw, though no necessarily critical acclaim.
Crashing the biannual RIMPAC exercise, a mysterious alien armada make the month-long training event more important than ever before for our naval forces. Unaware of their goals beyond apparent wanton destruction, with a force field keeping what’s out out, and what’s in in, it’s down to handful of ships and erratic lieutenant Alex Hopper (Kitsch) to take down the alien forces and save our world from being turned into dust.
Battleship isn’t as dreadful as you might have been expecting but it certainly isn’t a masterpiece either, even as a mindless popcorn blockbuster. Peter Berg has crafted a carbon copy of the Transformers series, though while it passes on Michael Bay’s lewd shot portrayal of women, it can’t boast the raw thrills of the first movie either.
Terrible dialogue is something they share too, with Erich and Jon Hoeber’s script leaving a lot to be desired. Throughout, Battleship feels massively clichéd, attempting to give the narrative some depth with interweaving character plotlines that only serve to bore. We’re teased into believing there’s an emotional back-story by a pre-title sequence where Hopper wins the heart of a young blonde (Decker) at the bar. Several years later, it’s her father (Neeson) who’s his boss in the navy, while she is now a physical therapist for injured soldiers; needless to say, the character development falls emphatically flat.
Kitsch is solid enough in the lead role and Rihanna does OK in her first real acting role, yet how predicable everyone else is kind of fits with the ridiculous Hollywood direction and plot. The one moment where it all goes a little too far is a veteran sequence, starting up their ancient warship with one of the most ridiculous shots in recent cinematic history.
With the sort of flashy CGI we’re long used to by now, Battleship is fun in a marauding blockbuster sort of way, though at 131 minutes, it sure feels long when it finally comes to the closing credits. Slo-mo action at eve ry turn probably doesn’t help and none of the characters utter the famous phrase “you sunk my battleship” too, but at least it’s not the total horror show it could have been.