Second Opinion – Battleship (2012)

Battleship, 2012.

Directed by Peter Berg.
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker and Tadanobu Asano.


During a naval drill, a battleship is sent to investigate a vast and mysterious alien vessel in the middle of the ocean and the crew soon find themselves fighting for the survival of mankind.

Battleship is not a good film. There is no way in which I can ever say this is anything other than utter tripe, inspired by films just as bad and just as senseless. Aside from the terrible script, plot, acting, and complete lack of comprehension, the real problem with Battleship is that there could have been a half decent popcorn picture in there somewhere, had the filmmakers attempted some degree of originality.

There’s no point in going into detail and tearing the script apart because anyone going to see a film based on a board game cannot complain if the dialogue is ear-achingly bad. The plot makes no sense from the minute it’s explained, but again, you expect this when you buy your ticket. The real issue is that the film doesn’t have the courage of its convictions to be one thing or the other. As a post-Transformers blockbuster it falls short simply because, and I never thought I’d say this, it doesn’t out-Bay Michael Bay. Director Peter Berg (of the equally poor Hancock) copies the classic Bay trademark shots but never captures his undeniably (at times) jaw-dropping visual style; the problem with Bay’s action is when it’s put into a film with scenes either side, and becomes intolerable. Berg, nor anyone, should ever attempt to copy Michael Bay and in doing so it comes across as lazy, uninspired, and draining on the senses.

The alien crafts look like Transformers and the aliens themselves look like Iron Man, neither of which are good films but when directly copied – for there is no source material on which Battleship could have taken its visuals other than previous box-office hits – you’re faced with a tragic case of déjà vu. This was also the loudest film I’ve ever heard at the cinema; it is as if the film is trying to draw our attention away from the visuals by looking to see if the speakers are exploding around us.

It is utter trash with no redeeming features and there are plenty of things I’ve ignored in this review because the film just isn’t worth going into in any depth. Although, maddeningly, it does come across at times as a sort of parody of brainless blockbusters, but never goes all-out in the fear that it may miss an opportunity blow something else up and lose the attention of its core audience. Some of the dialogue is so bad and the acting so unconvincing that you can only think its tongue is firmly in its cheek; there’s no way it can be taking itself seriously. The same goes for the Armageddon-style shot of the old sailors marching across the ship – it must be ridiculing its own genre, surely Berg wouldn’t expect his audience to take that shot seriously. If the film had been self-aware from the start and the script had more obvious winks at the audience, then this could have been something, but as it stands it’s neither a good blockbuster nor a Starship Troopers-style satire.

The very fact that Universal Pictures made the film reeks of desperation to rival Paramount’s Transformers series. The film doesn’t even try to deliver anything new or groundbreaking with its $200m budget and despite some good CGI and effects, Battleship misses its mark.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.

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