The biggest question I had while watching the new “Battleship” movie was “what is a big star like Liam Neeson doing in this?” Then, after watching the film, I realized that he was only in it for about 10 minutes and I suspect he made a lot of cash during for those ten minutes.
Not a shock to anyone is that the Paramount/Hasbro production, a “Transformers on water” movie, is not good. What is a shock is that it isn’t terrible. When the cliché-ridden story goes off-plot and when the actors are not uttering any dialogue, and all you’re left with is explosions and action, it’s quite good.
Paramount was clearly hoping for another hit like “Transformers” and it just might become one despite itself, but please, can you stop making movies based on toys and board games? It’s not funny anymore. I hear that a movie version based on the game “Candy Land” is also in the works. I’m telling you, it’s a slippery slope and soon if this behavior keeps up, we’ll all be forced to watch, “Scrabble…the Movie.”
“Battleship” opens with two brothers, Stone and Alex Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch) celebrating Alex’s birthday in a bar. Stone (seriously, Stone?) tells Alex to make a wish before he blows out the candle on his birthday cupcake. When Alex sees the beautiful Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), he is smitten, but gets scolded by his older brother. “Don’t waste your wishes on a girl,” says Stone. “Save them for a job.” This is the beginning of the intelligent dialogue that is overflowing in this movie.
The film suddenly flash forwards to a couple years later and Alex has joined his brother in the Navy. He is also now dating Samantha who just happens to be the daughter of Admiral Shane (Neeson), Alex and Stone’s boss. In this fairly small naval world, Stone is the hero and Alex is the mess up. They are joined by one tough female soldier, Cora (a fairly nice job by singer Rihanna in her first movie role), a wisecracking solider Jimmy, (Jesse Plemons), and an arch enemy, Hiroki (Joji Yoshida).
Soon, the ships are attacked by aliens from a planet that has similar qualities to our own. (Kudos to Peter Berg, the director, for making the look of the aliens more human-like and less squid-like as in so many other movies.) It is up to this rag tag team to not only save Hawaii, but also the world. Meanwhile, Samantha, a physical therapist, is out on a hike with a patient during the attack. The movie quickly turns into a David and Goliath type story. If this wasn’t enough, the film attempts to throw in patriotic themes that honor our veterans. The film also attempts to show growth in Alex’s character. Some of these are clever ideas, but this is the wrong movie to try these ideas out on.
Fortunately, nobody in this film says the infamous line from the game’s old TV commercial, “You sunk my Battleship!” but there is a line that comes very close to it. Most of the time, the movie doesn’t resemble the game much, but when it does, it receives much unintentional laughter from the audience.