Plot: The film begins in the year 2005 when NASA discovers a planet with conditions similar to Earth. Already the film is poorly written. NASA transmits some signals from a communications station located in Hawaii. We then see Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch of John Carter) meet a woman Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker bearing a resemblance to Charlize Theron) in a bar. In a stupid move, Alex breaks into a closed convenience store just to get her a chicken burrito. Police drama ensues. Alex’s older brother Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard), is furious when it is revealed Samatha’s father is Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, smart enough to only appear on screen for ten minutes). As an alternative to get Alex’s life on track, Stone forces him to join the United States Navy.
In present day, Alex is promoted to lieutenant aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones. His brother Stone is commanding officer of USS Sampson. During the opening ceremony for the naval exercises Alex fights with Japanese officer Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) who kicked Alex in the face during a soccer match and this is the final straw as he now faces dismissal after one last exercise but not if the aliens have anything to say about it. Five extraterrestrial ships arrive in response to the pesky NASA signal and all hell breaks loose as ships are destroyed except USS Jones. Alongside Alex is Petty Officer Cora ‘Weps’ Raikes, (Rihanna giving a petty performance), poorly delivering lines that rival the bad acting from “Act of Valor.” She even hums a song during one of the rare moments of silence during the loud movie. Meanwhile Samantha, who is a physical therapist, accompanies retired Army veteran and amputee Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadson) on a mountain hike to assist him adjust to using his prosthetic legs.
Review: When I mentioned to several friends and colleagues about seeing “Battleship” I received an unexpected comment. To my surprise most of them responded, “You mean the new Rihanna movie?” Sadly, that’s what “Battleship” has going for it. People didn’t even confuse it with a Michael Bay film or a Jerry Brucheimer production like I did. The summer blockbuster adaptation to the board game, (if that makes sense or is a even a possibility), “Battleship” seems vaguely familiar. The quick edits, dramatic slow motion, the loud noises, and wide-angle shots consume most of the entire running time. The sci-fi action adventure from toy-company Hasbro sets the bar for noisiest and the dumbest Summer Movie of 2012.
According to early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, many critics who have given a positive review to “Battleship” are in denial about its major weakness. They claim its self aware of the own stupidity. I disagree. This isn’t the cool kid in class acting dumb. ‘Battleship’ is the obnoxious class idiot who hasn’t figured out how to retain the teacher’s information. From my perspective, “Battleship” takes itself too seriously primarily toward the third act when veterans of war board the USS Missouri to fight the aliens. This isn’t ‘campy,’ but a full salute to those who serve in the military. No director or actor here is winking at the camera like say in a cheesy movie such as “Piranha 3D”.
The mechanical aliens resemble the robots from Transformers as the leap across the Pacific Ocean. One sequence features the main characters using a grid system much like the Battleship game. This happens in order to target alien ships that they can’t see on radar. It’s a throwback to the board game that’s barely tolerable. Most of “Battleship” is an unnecessary and at times an unbearable blockbuster. While watching “Battleship,” I was distracted by my love for TV’s underappreciated “Friday Night Lights.” (In my mind, I saw on screen Tim Riggins and Landry taking command of their ships. I really wanted Coach Taylor to show up for a pep talk.)
Peter Berg (the “Friday Night Lights” movie, “The Kingdom,” “Hancock”) constructs a miserable excuse for a summer film. The aliens are strikingly unoriginal almost laughably bad. The action sequences were boring and the dramatic human elements felt nauseating. In the context of say a film school, Peter Berg is a grade above Michael Bay and Brett Ratner, as in Berg gets a D while Bay and Ratner flunk out. In the wake of Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” and with anticipation for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” the audience deserves so much better.
Rating: 3.75 out of 10
Battleship: The Noisy, Unbearable Summer Blockbuster of 2012 Sinks