Review: Battleship

— by ADAM DALE —

In 2005, we discover an extra solar planet with life-sustaining conditions similar to Earth. We start a program that will beam a signal to this planet in hopes of contacting any intelligent life existing there. We also meet the intelligent, yet lazy, Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), whose latest stunt of trying to impress a girl named Sam (Brooklyn Decker) has gotten him into some trouble with the law again. Fed up with his immaturity and lack of responsibility, Alex’s older brother, Stoner Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård), who is a commander in the U.S. Navy, tells Alex he will be joining the Navy as well.

Time jump to 2012, where Alex is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy stationed alongside his brother in Hawaii. He has the love of physical therapist Sam and is looking to impress her father, who happens to be Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), the commanding officer over his brother and himself.

During an international naval exercise off the shores of Hawaii, we get a response from the signal we sent out, but it’s not the one that we wanted. Multiple ships crash-land in the ocean off the coast of Hawaii and put up a domed force field, trapping a few battleships and naval destroyers’ inside with this hostile force that demolishes any ship it its path.

With many men lost and everyone scared, Alex must do his best to help defeat the aliens and save the planetalong with a little help from a plucky young gunner’s mate named Raikes (Rihanna), a hysterical crewman named Ordy (Jesse Plemons), and unlikely support from rival officer Nagata (Tadanobu Asano). Can these few men and women win a war against an intergalactic force as powerful as these?

I’ll make this review as brief as possible because honestly I don’t know how much I can write about this film. Director Peter Berg has an avid fan base for his work on multiple TV shows and films. He does take an abstract idea of a simple two-person strategy board game and turn it into an explosive movie, but explosions and some great effects aren’t enough to sate the appetites of most audiences.

Where did “Battleship” go wrong? I would have to start with the lack of character development. You get a feel of who the characters are very briefly, but you never see deeper than the outer surface as most. It’s not that I wasn’t happy with the performances of the cast, and actually Rihanna did a good job in her first try at acting, but as a whole, the script and characters feel shallow and I was hoping to get slightly more out of it then I did.

Another problem I had with the film was the design of the alien ships, weapons and armor seemed like a direct rip-off of a combination of “Transformers” and “Independence Day.”

There were aspects of the film that I did enjoy, the first obviously being the effects and action sequences. Those were all on par with other summer blockbusters and great to watch. The extended cast of characters — including some very funny moments from the supporting cast — gave the film a bit more of the flavor it needed. I really enjoyed the performance of Gregory D. Gadson, an actual war hero and double leg amputee who plays a plucky army veteran who is going through physical therapy under Decker’s character Sam. He is obviously not a professional actor, but his performance was funny and genuine.

I also liked that the film didn’t take itself too seriously and was fun to watch and I am sure kids will love all of the action, but might leave adults feeling a bit unsatisfied.

Although I didn’t go into “Battleship” expecting much else besides some fun action scenes and cool special effects, I still left the theater feeling like I went to dinner starving and only had a side salad. Yes, I did eat, but I wasn’t satisfied and felt like I skipped the meal altogether.

While I would normally say to skip a film like this, its best action scenes will feel less than impactful watching it at home on your television. So the choice is up to you, but if you see it, definitely catch a discount matinee and go in knowing you won’t be getting much.

As a side note, they never utter the words “you sunk my battleship” in the film. Yes, it would have been cheesy no matter how it was delivered, but that would have been a moment where I would have actually cheered.

“Battleship” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction and for language and is in theaters now.

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