Monday, 6 August 2012

Film Review: Battleship

Certificate: 12A (intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language)
Directed By: Peter Berg
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Hamish Linklater, Liam Neeson, Peter MacNicol, John Tui, Jesse Plemons, Rico McClinton
Budget: $209 million
Runtime: 131 minutes
Trailer: Watch

Stephen Hawking infamously stated a couple of years back that beaming messages into space for any would be extraterrestrial listeners might prove an incredibly bad idea. The result he claimed, should any aliens out there take us up on the invitation, might be similar to "when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans". Such is the premise here in Battleship. When mankind blurts out a radio signal to a so-called 'goldilocks planet', an alien flotilla responds by crash-landing right in the middle of a naval exercise taking place off the coast of Hawaii.

What any of this has to do with the famous Hasbro board game upon which this is loosely based is anyone's guess, but even on its own merit this is a pretty ludicrous piece of filmmaking. Inanity comes in abundance as the film keeps firing miss after miss. In keeping with the tradition of firing blind Battleship interjects its elaborate macguffin to cause a radar blackout ensuring that a game of cat and mouse between high-tech US warships and generic alien armadas plays out, also enabling crew members to shout "miss" for shits and giggles.

But this is about as good as the dialogue ever gets. Full of bravado cliches, one character stoically declares "let's see if we can buy the world another day". Perhaps self-aware of the film's absurdity, another bloke questions "who talks like that?". Well, in Battleship, everyone. Further, for all the grand Michael Bay-esque spectacle this positions its ships to be in, the action is disappointingly not on the scale one might have envisaged. Indeed, for an entire US carrier fleet sitting in the vicinity of the combat zone (although strangely lacking in submarines), the film curiously removes them from being able to utilise their capacity in making things go boom. Although director Peter Berg does trump Bay in one department. If you thought all Transformers amounted to was one giant propaganda campaign for the US military, Battleship will have you donning blue overalls and singing "Yvan eht nioj"  before you can say "navy".

Still, you've got to admire how unashamed of itself Battleship is. At points it almost feels self-mocking, particularly in an almost ingenious stroke where it attempts to apply the board game to the film. It expends all its ordinance on logic and reason, almost sinking under the the bombardment of its own kitsch. Can't wait to see how 'Monopoly: The Movie' turns out.