By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 5 out of 10
In a summer that has already been marred by films being pushed back to later dates and high amounts of anticipation failing to pay off, Battleship stands firm as the bar to pass for mediocrity this summer. A disjointed plot, terrible acting and general absence of fun stop this movie from ever taking off, resulting in a two-hour, head-splitting assault on the senses.
Coming close to being a Navy washout, Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) partakes in a series of Naval War Games, only to be onboard the boat that makes first contact with an alien species. However, the naval ships soon learn that these ships do not come in peace, and now the battle for earth’s survival has begun.
The film looks outstanding, as the special effects keep the film watchable and damn near entertaining. Peter Berg, who directed Hancock in 2008, is a major proponent of using visual effects to attempt and substantiate what is happening on screen, but the issue with Battleship is that he attempts to add far too much story to the mix, detracting from what works best with the film.
Battleship’s first 30 minutes are almost unwatchable. The beginning is so full of multiple sub-plots, all of which are either dropped or forgotten completely by midway through the film. There comes a point in a film where plot is bursting at the seams and the success hinges completely upon the directors and the actors that are partaking in the film, all of which are unable to complete that task. As a result, by the time that the entertaining and visually-unimpressive aliens come to attack, most viewers are going to be completely tuned out.
Taylor Kitsch has had some awful luck this year, starring in the impressive, yet poor performing box office bomb John Carter and then this, the loudest but easily most disappointing movie so far this summer. His supporting cast seems to be there more for notoriety and marketing than actually putting together a sustainable film.
Rihanna plays Cora Raikes, whose main job in the film is to say a few lines here and there, followed by the obligatory explosion-censored curse word. Liam Neeson, who has been shown heavily in trailers and commercials, has around 10 minutes of screen time at the maximum, which turn out to be the most entertaining parts of the film. Gregory Gadson, a U.S. Army Veteran, does the best job that he can in his role, effectively stealing the show as a bilateral amputee veteran, but he is supported by Brooklyn Decker, who plays Samantha Shane and Adam Godley as Dr. Nogrady.
Decker and Godley are frustratingly bad in this film, quickly killing any momentum that is built during the high-quality action scenes. The actors who disappoint more than succeed detract attention from actors such as Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard and Tadnobu Asano, who all do a solid job in their roles.
Battleship does have some entertaining parts, however. Any scene that involves the alien ships, from the initial attack to the final showdown is visually enticing and full of solid action. There are also many small nods towards the game, including an exact replica of the game during the film when the protagonist’s ship uses tidal wave sensors to detect enemy movement. Moments like that make the film cool, as does the final battle scene, which is not necessarily believable but still brings out a couple of laughs along the way.
Battleship is simply a muddled mess. Sure it is loud, sure it is pretty, but the powers that be decided that a film based off of a Mattel game needed a substantial plot, which is where the movie completely implodes. A bad cast, worse writing and an overall sense of cheese sinks this boat quick. The worst part about the film is a post-credit scene offers the possibility of a sequel, which, given the first film’s box-office performance, is very unlikely to happen. In a world where film is constantly awarding films that can mix visual thrills with a proper story and solid cast, Battleship is a film solidified in the past. This ship should have stayed docked.