Friday, May 18, 2012

Battleship Review

“Battleship” is a big, loud and dumb action movie. No seriously, I mean really big and really loud. Its budget is approximately $200 million and every penny of that is on screen. Whether it’s the massive CGI battleships, the massive alien robot ship things, or the big stars that director Peter Berg has assembled like Liam Neeson. The motto for “Battleship” seems to be: Why have one explosive climactic action sequence when you can have fifty?

As for the loudness, it’s almost ear shattering. I know that at movie theaters the sound is turned way up, but you can feel the vibrations in your seat. Not only that, as if the action by itself wasn’t loud enough Berg felt the need to blast loud rock music from bands like AC/DC in every other scene. It’s a full on assault on the senses.

As far as plot there isn’t much. Just some exposition at the beginning and some basic plot advancements throughout, just to remind us why there’s so much big loud action going on. The movie takes place in Hawaii, and the Navy is in the middle of an annual war game, with other countries like Japan.

The entire fleet is led by tough as nails Admiral Shane (Neeson). On one of the ships, there’s Lieutenant Alex Hopper (hunky Taylor Kitsch, from “John Carter”) who’s not exactly on good terms with Shane, and is expected to be kicked out of the Navy when the war games finish. To add more intrigue he happens to be dating the Admiral’s daughter Sam (Brooklyn Decker).

Anyway, they’re out on the water, doing their thing (except for Sam, who is on one of the islands) when they run into aliens. They come down in pod form. Bang! First they hit the city of Tokyo, causing a few tall buildings to topple over. Smash! Then they hit the water and create a force field around three of the ships training-- one of which includes Alex’s. Splash! Big alien ships that look like Transformers rise out of the water. They shoot some missiles, totally destroying one of the ships. Uh-oh! They sunk our battleship!

Before we know it the alien ship boat things spew out more missiles, but not before releasing a different kind of missile. Missiles that can roll around, causing even more destruction. Bang! Boom! Splash! Blam! There’s so much action happening in this movie simultaneously that it’s like being pummeled repeatedly by Mike Tyson.

In all seriousness though, I don’t have a major issue with the bang-bang boom-boom, because what else do you expect with a movie called “Battleship”? No, my problem lies in the fact that the antagonists are aliens yet again. Alien invasions are one of the easiest situations to fall back on in action movies (ahem! Michael Bay). You can make up anything you want and no one will get offended.

 Who are these aliens? Oh you know, they’re from some planet somewhere. Apparently the U.S. Government created some kind of communication device through satellites on one of the Hawaiian Islands and somehow it attracted an alien race.

It’s bad enough that the movie is loosely based on an old board game, but Berg and screenwriters Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber can’t even come up with a clever, deeper angle for these extraterrestrial beings. I guess that would take away from the constant bombardment of action. On top of that, since this is a large-scale action movie it has to include every possible cliché action movie character and their baggage. To name a few: The nervous scientist played by Hamish Linklater; the retired Marine who has two prosthetic legs; and of course an entire conference room full of government suits, barking orders.

In terms of box office I’m sure “Battleship” will do big business. Not as much as “The Avengers” but still pretty impressive. It delivers action, and lots of it. I admit, there are a couple impressive spectacles and the movie kept me awake at least. But for the most part it’s overlong, unimaginative and unintentionally hilarious. Berg didn’t even get someone to say, “They sunk our battleship!” I had to say it instead.


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