Gambit and John Carter is now a naval officer battling aliens!
Rising superstar Taylor Kitsch leads an all star cast in Battleship, a sci-fi blockbuster I, admittedly, thought was going to be pure trash when I saw the teaser trailer ages ago. I mean, come on, are we so short on ideas these days that movies now have to be based on board games? Anyway, Kitsch plays Alex Hopper, a bit of a loser who, we are told repeatedly, is a guy high on talent but short on discipline — until he is forced to join the navy by his decorated older brother Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard, the really tall vampire from True Blood). Meanwhile, he has managed to score Andy Roddick’s wife (Brooklyn Decker) as a girlfriend, but the relationship is opposed by her father, the always awesome Liam Neeson, who also happens to be the brothers’ superior.
Whatever. This is essentially a rather pointless backdrop for the real story — the sending of a satellite signal to an earth-like planet far far away, and eventually receiving an unfriendly response in the form of Transformer-like water fighter jets and nasty aliens in metal body suits. Let the battleship games begin! (And yes, they do to some extent replicate the “blind bombing” of the board game)
Look, despite how badly that sounded, Battleship turned out to be a pretty decent piece of popcorn entertainment that harks back to the fun-filled action blockbusters of the late 90s, such as Con Air, Face Off and Armageddon. Like those films, Battleship takes itself “half-seriously” — complete with huge explosions, tough guys pretending to be cool, cheesy dialogue, tongue-in-cheek jokes and groups of people walking towards the camera in slow motion while rock music blares in the background. If you can accept the film for what it is, let go of your brain and just go with the flow, you might end up enjoying the film as much as I did.
Battleship combines white knuckle naval battle action with supreme special effects, making it a great movie to watch on the big screen. All that running and flying around occasionally gets a little muddled with the quick cuts, but for the most part director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Hancock) does an admirable job of keeping the film afloat.
Taylor Kitsch is solid as the confused hero forced to realise his full potential, providing a mix of leading man charm and self-deprecating humour. He’s already been in two blockbusters in 2012 and is set to appear in Oliver Stone’s crime-thriller Savages later this year. The rest do their best with the cookie cutter characters they have been given, with special mention going out to Rihanna for not sticking out like a sore thumb in her debut acting role. She plays an action-based character who doesn’t say a whole lot (definitely a good thing) but she delivers a performance that matches well with the rest of the cast.
At the end of the day, Battleship is unlikely to be remembered as a great, or even good movie, but as far as fun, visual-effects driven action blockbusters go, it’s definitely one of the better ones.
3.75 stars out of 5