Review: Battleship

Battleship? More like a Sub…

…with ham and cheese!
Am I right?

Following the success of the Transformers film franchise, Hasbro runs its finger down the index of toy licenses they own and inexplicably land on the Battleship board game. The film follows a young man drafted into the Navy in a bid to get his act together and win the confidence of an Admiral whose daughter he has hopes to marry.
But during a Naval military training exercise, aliens attack!

This is an overlong, noisy and emotionless experience that has had way too much money thrown at it, but let’s go into the positives first, lest this turn into a rant (which it will anyway)
As bad as it is, and as cheesy as it is, at least the film is self-aware that it has no credibility and doesn’t even try. The special effects are very impressive in most areas, the alien designs are good (even though they look like numerous existing video game concepts) and the basic idea of the film isn’t bad. Unfortunately it is blown way out of proportion and loses all credibility.

Now am I suggesting there was a better film adaptation of Battleship that hasn’t been made? Yes, I actually am. (I surprise myself sometimes…) I am fine with several ships being locked in a contrived scenario against alien ships and resorting to Naval tactics and quick thinking to save the day. That’s a small, intense situation; stuck on a boat against overwhelming odds.
But no, Battleship wastes time with either hammed up goofball antics or ham-fisted sincerity. We have our lead’s girlfriend hiking around Hawaii with a double leg amputee in bid to restore his confidence, we have jocks playing football, we have computer geeks being socially weird, and later we have the lead cast hire a load of OAP Navy veterans to man an out of commission Battleship to win the day.
Now… I feel bad for saying this, but the “Booyah, America; we never back down!” vibe makes these otherwise sensitive and heartfelt scenarios (amputees and war veterans) a little silly. Especially when your film opens with your lead breaking into a grocery store to steal a chicken burrito to the sounds of the Pink Panther theme.
Yes, that happens.
Even having giant metal alien bowling balls smashing around cities and freeways, miles away from the ocean, has little to nothing to do with anything. All it does is waste time, waste money and make trailer-fodder. Why couldn’t we have just had ships trapped at sea, fighting each other? Why do we need a girlfriend and an amputee subplot, why do we need computer nerds quoting ET, why do we need a tired romance subplot that gets completely sidelined by ocean battles?

Make things short, concise and clever! Not bigger, dumber and noisier!

It is a popcorn movie; it is loud and stupid and has no elements to warrant any real praise other than flashy special effects. If you want to waste some time, go for it, but you might find you’ve wasted too much time.

Additional Marshmallows: My argument for less-is-more would be perfectly described if I could only find the original, initial teaser trailer Battleship had. All it showed was Neeson on his ship’s bridge, the energy shield locking off a section of ocean, battleships and alien ships facing off. That was it, and you know something? When I saw that trailer, I thought the film looked excellent!

Then the full trailer came out.

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