You sank my battleship. Four words immortalized by the great Hasbro game we’ve all played as kids. So when Hollywood set out to adapt this game into a film, the word skeptical came to mind. It’s not like there’s that much of a background story within the game. Setup your pieces and try and sink your opponent’s ships. So what does Hollywood do? Add an alien invasion timed perfectly with the U.S. Naval fleet involved in a war games exercise with Japan in the exact place where the alien’s are going to land. If it seems a little preposterous, then get ready for Battleship.
Directed by Peter Berg, the film begins as we meet Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), basically a bum whose brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) is a naval officer. At a bar he winds up hitting on the beautiful Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) who is also the daughter of the admiral of the naval fleet (Liam Neeson). After breaking into a convenience store to impress Samantha and get her a burrito he is arrested and his brother gives him an ultimatum to join the Navy.
There’s a program going on at the same time to send a transmission deep into space to a planet, Planet G which researchers believe stands a good chance of supporting life. Supervising this project is the nerdy Cal (Hamish Linklater). In what seems like no time whatsoever, the signal is sent and five alien spacecraft enter our solar system in a tight, uniform formation. One of the alien spacecraft crashes in Hong Kong while the others all crash into the ocean off of Hawaii.
One of the spacecraft levitates in the ocean and winds up setting up a force field around Hawaii that prevents all but 3 of the Navy’s ships from getting in. 2 of the ships get destroyed, including the one commanded by Stone and after many officers on Alex’s ship die he winds up being the next in command and becomes the captain of his ship. And the rest of the story unfolds.
The film felt very much in line with the Transformers films. In fact, it almost could be described as Transformers on sea. Special effects were similar but were effective. One has to wonder though about the aliens that if they could have responded to our signal so quickly and arrived at our planet in what seemed like no time at all, wouldn’t they have come with technology for war that would have been far superior than what seems like a standoff between the Naval ships and their alien spacecraft?
One of the only effective scenes in the film is when they are tracking the alien ships in the ocean without the assistance of radar through the use of water displacement. A grid pattern is displayed on screen and it essentially looks exactly like how the board game would be played. There’s even targeting speech such as “C-11” and “miss”. It’s an impressive way of how they were able to tie in the actual game play into the film itself.
As for the acting of the film, it’s poor all around. The only character I felt convincingly played a naval officer was Skarsgard but he’s killed off relatively early on in the film. Rihanna also stars in the film and while her character gets a lot of on-screen time, her acting skills need some improvement. It’s probably best if she sticks with singing instead of acting.
If the expectations of this film were that it didn’t stink, then it met those expectations. However it’s not a very good movie either. The scenes with the navy ships are fun to watch but the movie as a whole is lacking in many aspects. This is strictly a popcorn film. You won’t walk away disappointed, but you’re not going to walk away excited about this film either. Is it worth seeing? Only if you’ve got nothing better to do this weekend.
FINAL GRADE: C
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres