Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Get out your pegs and plastic ships, we're playing reviewing Battleship!
They are playing the deadliest game.

Battleship is the most Michael Bayiest movie yet, and I am shocked-SHOCKED I SAY-that he had nothing to do with it. If you saw Transformers and thought that would be a perfect movie if not for all the weird robot storylines, then this is the movie for you.

Alex Hopper(Taylor Kitsch) is a loose cannon with no priorities, until his brother, Stone(Alexander Skarsgård), forces him to join the navy.  Hopper's also in love with the beautiful Samantha(Brooklyn Decker), who happens to be the daughter of Admiral Shane(Liam Neeson)! What will he do?! And then Aliens attack.

First of all, who names their kid Stone Hopper?! You are terrible parents! Relinquish your parenting award now!

Second, wow.  It's no surprise that The Avengerseven in their third week, beat this at the box office.  There's so much of the first act I just couldn't bring myself to care about.  It's halfway entertaining to see Kitsch run around like a maniac, and Decker is very pretty, and you get to see Kitsch mostly naked in a bathtub, but I just really wanted them to get to blowing stuff up.

And they do! Buildings fall, ships fall out of the sky, aliens explode battle destroyers, and y'know, it's pretty good. It's nice. It's quaint. I'm not saying it's bad. The effects are certainly enjoyable and there are some nice bits of action, but it's not amazing. Frankly put, if The Avengers is still in theaters, I don't know why you wouldn't see that instead of Battleship. Sure it's new, but actionwise, the final 45 minutes of Avengers beats the whole of Battleship, plus you get a whole 'nother great movie for extra!

I will say there's one thing Battleship has over The Avengers, their aliens are smarter. These might be the smartest movie aliens we've seen in awhile. For one thing they're not naked, they wear environmental suits! Y'know, the kind humans would wear if we were going to an alien world. Plus they have weapons that they use effectively, and they seem to have a viable strategy rather than just land and start wreckin' shit for no reason. They make sense. The designs aren't that great, especially when you see what's underneath the helmets, but at least I can understand their motivation.
Rihanna is actually pretty good at being the tough chick in this.

The rest of the movie on the other hand, I can't really understand.  There are a lot of things that don't make sense, and probably a lot more that I didn't realize after my brain shut off after the first hour. Things like, the titles mention this is Day 1 of the super special sea games, but then never mentions again what day it is. Why bother? Another one: They show a "dead" alien that everyone is examining that they said they "fished out of the water". What was he doing in the water to begin with? They didn't blow up any of their ships! My favorite though: a boat is sinking longways, Titanic style, and the main characters are running to the tail end of the boat while it's slowly rising in the air, even though everyone else JUMPED OVER THE SIDE.  Why are they running to the end? So they can jump off into the water dramatically just like that one shot in Titanic? Oh ok. Gotcha.

I don't hate it, I think there are some good ideas here.  There are some funny bits with Kitsch acting dumb.  Sam, Hopper's girlfriend who is also a physical therapist to vets who've lost their limbs, goes off on a side quest with a retired marine who lost both his legs and his will to live. Which, the side story I think is dumb in a number of parts, but I kind of wanted the entire movie to be retired marine amputees fighting aliens. How awesome a movie would that be?!  And it is nice they use real servicemen and bring out vets and a classic Battleship for the final battle.  They fought for our nation and now they get to shoot aliens in the face, and I think that's pretty cool.  It's really weird how they walk onto the boat and there are just random old people sitting dramatically on the deck, but still cool nonetheless.  Now that I think of it, the old guys fighting aliens felt more like Cowboys vs. Aliens than Cowboys vs. Aliens did.

I know what you're really thinking, does it do justice to the game?!  Well kind of.  No one says "You sunk my battleship". THEY NEVER SAY IT.  But the aliens shoot explosive pegs into actual battleships. Wait, let me explain that again. The Aliens shoot actual pegs into battleships.  That is their main offensive weapon. It's kind of crazy awesome they went that far, and the aliens themselves have some cool weaponry. Also later on, they do have to use a grid and "predict" where the aliens will be, so there's that.
When will Aliens learn to not mess with Darkman?!

Acting isn't really great in this. No standout performances. Kitsch has the same gruffness he had in John Carter, but somehow here it just feels insufferable. Rihanna didn't have a huge role, but she actually fit in perfectly.  Liam Neeson is barely there. He's basically waiting outside the bubble the whole movie waiting for something to happen. They missed a huge opportunity not having the aliens kidnap his daughter and him phoning up the aliens and going "I have a very specific set of skills having to do with battleships..."

Strangely, one of the things that I loved about this was the music. The score was really enjoyable and had a lot of distinct themes I remembered. It's weird because the score was done by Steve Jablonsky, who did music for all three Transformers films(Michael Bay, someone is stealing your shit!  There can only be one Bay!).  It might be because it sounds so similar to other movie scores, namely Inception and Dark Knight.  It's probably the best thing about this movie. Also the soundtrack was great; a lot of diverse stuff both new and classic. So good job sound and music crew!

The effects are pretty good. Lots of explosions and pretty alien ships and what not. I can't really say they're well designed aliens and ships, kind of generic in my opinion, but the effects and action themselves are nice and fun.  Haven't seen it in 3D so I can't comment on how good that experience is, but I couldn't bring myself to watch this again just to find out.  There are a number of shots that LOOK like they would be good in 3D, but no telling if they deliver or not.

Overall it's a better Michael Bay film than most Michael Bay films: it's a big dumb action movie with little else going on, but it doesn't piss me off from being overly stupid, racist and sexist and it doesn't shit all over its inherent source material.

THE GOOD: Lot's of action, nice effects, aliens are smart, nice to see in-duty officers, has some funny parts, retired vets and wounded soldiers kicking ass, great score and soundtrack, the aliens fire pegs into battleships.

THE BAD: Not that interesting first act, uninteresting story and characters, dumb things happen to serve the movie, designs aren't great, action isn't original, NO ONE SAYS THE LINE.

THE VERDICT: $$$ It's not bad, but honestly, there's no reason to see this over seeing The Avengers, even if you've seen the latter two or three times already. I can guarantee you'll have a better overall experience. If you want something new, it's ok, but you could also wait until it's out on Netflix. Also, wait until the credits are over if you enjoyed it. Or not. It's not that big a deal.

MOVIES LIKE IT: The Transformers trilogy, Pearl Harbor, Titanic, Avengers, Cowboys vs. Aliens

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: One alien ship crashes into Japan, causing a building to topple over. I should be awed by this, but all I'm thinking is "Oh, they knocked over one building? That's adorable.  Michael Bay knocked over a building for ten straight minutes.  Or hey, let me go back to The Avengers where they wrecked an entire city, and the damaged caused was more costly than 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Japanese Tsunami." 

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