Movie Review: 'Battleship' sinks itself
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 10:05
So, it has come to this: board games.
The executives at Universal were so strapped for ideas that they had to turn to a toy that consists of two people guessing where stuff is. Oh, and they added aliens.
At the very least, the "Transformers" films stuck to the simplistic story already set up by the toys. You know you're in trouble when you're comparing plot and "Transformers" is the favorable choice. Let's just get this over with.
"Battleship" starts out with a kind of expo, where many nations' Navies gather to have a friendly spar. Anyway, aliens come to Earth by following a signal from human scientists, seal off Hawaii with a force field and then do battle with the ships there.
Giving some credit before smashing the movie to pieces, the way in which the aliens (called "psychic frogmen" from here on out) discover our planet is pretty good. It's not exactly original, but it's a relatively novel and smart idea for a film like this.
That said, the psychic frogmen don't really seem to have any motivation. This incongruity is the film's main problem.
It's almost like there were two screenwriters involved: one trying to make a grounded, self-serious action movie, and another guy who realized how ridiculous the premise was and said, "Let's put Rihanna in the movie."
Speaking of Rihanna, whose idea was that? Did they need star power? They already had Liam Neeson and Brooklyn Decker. Did they need a minority action starlet? Get Zoe Saldana or Michelle Rodriguez, because both of them are better actresses.
The other problem is the lack of a hook, pretty much a requisite in alien invasion movies. After 1954's "War of the Worlds," each alien movie has had something to set it apart.
"Independence Day" had at-the-time unseen devastation of national monuments, "Battle: LA" took a gritty and realistic approach and 2005's "War of the Worlds" had the prospect of seeing Tom Cruise disintegrated. By comparison, "Battleship" is just generic.
In regards to the characters, "True Blood" hunk Alexander Skarsgård plays straight-laced big brother, but seems to be mixing up his accents a bit. Brooklyn Decker is actually not bad as blank slate love interest, mostly because she just hides and stuff, and is actually pretty sane.
Rihanna plays sassy black woman, and simultaneously makes the NAACP face palm and does more for female action roles than Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson combined.
Taylor Kitsch takes the lead as egotistical hero who must learn humility. Kitsch is not a bad actor, but he lacks the presence to carry a film. He comes off as someone imitating Chris Pine doing Captain Kirk, so maybe he should just stick to supporting roles for a while.
Liam Neeson's only in it a little, and his main motivation is getting to his daughter. Obviously, he's awesome, and he's also well aware of the type of movie, unlike everyone else.
"Battleship" is not really a movie. It's a recruitment commercial. That, on top of everything else, ends up making "Battleship" a cliché-ridden mess.