Hasbro has been on the bandwagon with licensed films for a while now, with films like GI Joe and Transformers. Their newest property to make the leap is Battleship, a two player game turned into a giant spectacle for the big screen. How does this one translate onto the big screen? Is it on the winning team, or did they sink their own battleship?
When this movie was first announced, I like many people started thinking about how the hell a movie about this game could be made. It was one of the films that barely stayed on my radar, but between advertising campaigns and all the trailers for it, I just couldn’t forget about it. The absurdity of the whole idea really made it stick out in my head, and just like the big screen adaptation of Transformers it almost drove me mad with curiosity. The more and more information that came out for the film actually made it look pretty interesting. By the time I finally noticed it was hitting theatres, safe to say, I was kind of excited for it. In the back of my head, I knew it was going to be terrible. I just kept thinking about the transformers franchise and the first GI Joe film, and how bad they were. Going in, I had zero expectations.
Well, going in with completely zero expectations was a good thing. The story is as simple as they could have made it. Scientists blast a message into space, hoping to contact earthlike worlds. Aliens apparently get the message, and come to Earth. Once here, they have a little communications error and crash land right in the middle of the world’s largest Naval training exercises. After being cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable force field, its up to the remaining few ships inside to try to save the day. Its really a bare bones story. Of course there’s a love interest in there, of course there’s the typical rush against time, but it’s easy to follow and it’s easy to make sense of. The throw away cast is just that. It’s not a great cast, but it’s not complete bottom of the barrel horrible acting, either. Easily the best part of the film is any time Liam Neeson is on screen, but that goes without saying really. The script isn’t as full of Naval jargon like what would be expected, but they still try to keep it relatively grounded in reality. There’s still the level or professionalism among them that is to be expected. All in all, in the above aspects its just insanely mediocre. Which for a film like this, is better than expected.
Now to the heart of the film, the action. It does take a while for the film to kick into gear. It feels really out of pace, and it seems to take forever for anything to actually happen. But once it does, it does it relatively right. The aliens that come to earth aren’t all that different from us. They have similar technology, so we aren’t hopelessly outgunned. Which that makes the battles actually interesting. It would have felt completely stereotypical and out of place for the aliens to be technologically superior, and just for a deus ex machina to randomly show up and save the day. The naval battles, as expected are the real highlight of the film. There’s explosions, there’s close quarters combat, there’s trickery and surprises everywhere. It would have been super easy to go Micheal Bay on this and just make gratuitous explosions and go crazy with it, but they didn’t. It might not look like it from the commercials and trailers, but they really didn’t. The only thing that really felt ridiculous and had me and the whole theatre laughing was the ridiculously forced hit and miss scene. Its supposed to be tense. Its supposed to be dramatic. But it fails horribly and just comes off cheesier than rat crap. Every time they yelled out coordinates followed by “Miss!” the whole theatre erupted in laughter. It’s like it was purposely shoehorned into the film.
Here’s my whole problem with the film though. You never really feel like the aliens are here to conquer us. It’s said, but you don’t believe it. Maybe it’s me and my over thinking, but they only seem to be on a self preservation kick. The aliens don’t fire first. They don’t destroy anything that’s not a threat. It seems like they are just trying to get off this rock, or at least establish communication with their own kind. That’s it. There’s a cool scene where one of the giant spinning balls of death is staring a little kid in the face, and it turns and leaves him alone. The aliens literally don’t do anything to anyone without them provoking it. By the end of the film, I was kind of bummed when the good ol’ navy wiped em out. It would have been a much stronger ending if they had gone with a peaceful resolution, instead of going with “blow up everything that isn’t human.”
All in all, this film can be filled away in the extreme mediocrity category. It’s not over the top horrible, but its not amazingly awesome, either. I can break it down like this, if you enjoyed the transformers films, you’d really enjoy this. If you’re a Naval buff, you’ll enjoy it too. If you like watching humans kick the shit out of freaky looking aliens, you might get a kick out of it. If you want to just turn off your brain and eat a big ass tub of popcorn and see pretty explosions, this is the best in theatres for such a night. If you’re looking for something that’s emotionally deep or overly thrilling, then keep going. If you’re looking for a great sci-fi flick with meaning, wait until Prometheus.
2.5 out of 5.