This is what happens when someone tries to mimic Michael Bay’s films and does it badly. No really, the repeated use of slow motion, the love for military equipment, generic stereotypes, mass destruction, slow motion and glorification of the American military is all there. It’s just that director Peter Berg manages to do it all much worse.
Allegedly based upon the tactical guessing game with pegs, Battleship very vaguely resembles its toy franchise. Okay, not even that, it has one scene in which it sort of resembles it for a couple of minutes. The plot of the film is that a scout force for a hostile alien race lands on earth during a joint naval exercise between Japan and America’s navies. Upon reaching the alien ships and activating them, a small destroyer group ends up trapped inside an energy field created by the invaders and its radar equipment being jammed. Now, as dumb as it might sound this idea might have still made a good film had they taken it in one of two routes:
One – Make it into a tense guessing game of tracking, pot shots and genuine intelligence with occasional bursts of combat. Something we’ve not seen since the days of Red October and Wrath of Khan.
Two – Turn it into a full blown action set piece, focusing entirely upon big explosions with Liam Neeson on a heavily damaged flagship firing a heavy machine gun at the aliens and yelling “You sunk my battleship!”
It failed to do either. What we end up with is a film which makes Green Lantern look like a masterpiece, limits Neeson to a glorified cameo and feels more like a product put together in a factory than it does a directed film. Every modern gimmick is on display here from speed-up-slow-down action scenes, which half the film seems to consist of, to almost bland stereotyped characters – most notably a cliché storm of a computer geek. Bay’s films might be filled with insulting ethnic caricatures which leave the audience in a rage, but at least they’re creating some sort of solid emotional core in the film. These ones give you no connection to them, no desire to see them survive or get killed, and in all honesty this leaves you feeling bored.
Even the big explosive set pieces don’t stand out that well, with the aliens only using one of three weapons. Sure the car sized razorballs of death might be somewhat impressive at first, and the explosive “pegs” they fire might get a laugh initially, but they’re used so often they get old very quickly. There’s no real wow moments to the constant barrage of action, occasionally you’ll get something which makes you think “that one was pretty good” but it just starts to become repetitive due to the lack of variety.
With much better films like the Avengers coming very soon there’s absolutely no reason to see this one. If you want mindless action just go watch one of Roland Emmerich’s better films like Universal Soldier. If you want to see a good alien invasion film, track down a copy of the War of the Worlds remake. If you want to see Liam Neeson or Taylor Kitsch in explosive, fun films re-watch A-Team or wait for John Carter to come out on DVD. Just don’t waste your money on this soulless mess.
Battleship and all related characters and media are owned by Universal Pictures.