If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Where do I begin with this one? For months, I have been anticipating this movie’s release; not because I thought it’d be good, but because I wanted to see how bad it was. Every time this film came up in conversation, I lambasted it to death. A film based on a board game that has absolutely no material to mine to create a movie? The marketing didn’t help to sway my thoughts, with its huge “FROM THE GUYS WHO BROUGHT YOU TRANSFORMERS…SORT OF” across the poster. With its early release here in the UK, I decided to check it out to see how bad it could possibly be. That, and I felt I couldn’t make fun of it anymore if I didn’t see it. How did it fare? Well…
I’d start with a run down of the plot, but its almost non-existant. Here’s what I could gather: aliens land on Earth, they blow up s***, and the Navy are the only ones who can stop them. Why do the aliens want to take over the planet? Never explained! While their goal throughout the film is to use our satellites to contact their planet and bring more forces, they still don’t tell us exactly why. What use do they have for our planet, especially since THEY CAN”T STAND OUR SUNLIGHT BECAUSE OF THEIR OVER-SENSITIVE EYES?! I’d also talk about the characters, but they seem to be missing too. Sure, there are a bunch of actors in this movie, but they have no character. Except for Alex Hopper (TAYLOR KITSCH), but his entire storyline (the loose cannon pretty boy forced into control and learns to be a leader) is almost exactly the same as James Kirk’s arc in STAR TREK (2009). The script is utterly atrocious and is full of clichés. All dialog is either blatant exposition, bad humour or trailer dialog. At one point, after a particularly cheesy line, a character rhetorically asks “Who talks like that?” If that line was ad-libbed, I wouldn’t surprised as it sums up the writing style.
Meanwhile, the acting. Oh, the horrible acting. Kitsch remains as bland as he was in JOHN CARTER (and I liked that movie, btw). RIHANNA is utterly awful and seems utterly confused by the idea of adding more emotion than a twig to her lines. BROOKLYN DECKER, while stunning to look at, fares even worse and fails to give us any real connection between her and Kitsch. Why does she like this guy at all? Oh yeah, because he went through stupid lengths to buy her a chicken burrito. No joke, that is all we are given. LIAM NEESON’s role is a glorified cameo and he never takes part in any of the action scenes. When he is there, he seems utterly bored and looks like he’s waiting for some lunch and a massive paycheck. There’s also this computer nerd guy who seems to be channelling both JEFF GOLDBLUM in INDEPENDENCE DAY and SHIA LABOUEF in general, and he is utterly awful too. There are many other characters, but they are all forgettable and I feel I needn’t waste more time talking about them as well.
The entire film lacks any sense of imagination and lifts many, many elements from other movies. I could list several movies this film rips off, so I will: TRANSFORMERS, TOP GUN, STAR TREK (2009), PREDATOR, ALIENS, INDEPENDENCE DAY, STAR WARS, THE MATRIX, the list goes on. The suits the aliens wear and their ships wouldn’t look out of place in MASS EFFECT or HALO, whilst their behaviour and FPS viewpoint are very similar to PREDATOR. But the most obvious influence, not just in design but in general, is Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS trilogy. The over-complicated design of the alien tech, the big sweeping shots, the gun-ho militarism, the glorification of the military in general (*SPOILER* The aliens are defeated thanks to the efforts of war veterans. What?), the over use of sunset, the bad humour, the blatant product placement, the dramatic music, even the sound design seems ripped straight out of the Autobots’ ass. If I didn’t know, I’d swear Bay was involved in this somehow. Director Peter Berg (HANCOCK) isn’t that bad a director, but he doesn’t inject any creative spark into the proceedings at all.
On the positive side, it is at least competently made. The special effects look great, but don’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before, and the film is shot in a way that I can at least tell what is going on most of the time. I’ll also say it is at least laughably bad at points. I burst out laughing several times during the screening, either at a particularly bad line or a ridiculous action beat. I never laughed when the movie wanted me to, but that doesn’t mean this film can’t be a hilarious time with friends (I unfortunately saw it alone with an audience who seemed to like it. What is this world coming to?). I also like the fact the film doesn’t make the aliens insectoid like every sci-fi film does these days, but the design is still very odd, looking like a cross-breed of a salamander, a gorilla and Dr. Zoidberg.
Before I forget, the film does actually resemble the board game at points. The aliens use these missiles that work like the pegs in the game, and they can’t be seen on radar so the Navy has to blindly fire to hit them, just like in the game. But when there’s not much material to f*** up, how can you?
In conclusion, BATTLESHIP is a loud, obnoxious, badly written, badly acted, overlong (2 and a half hours? Really?), over-budgeted blatant cash-grab wanting in on the TRANSFORMERS money. It is an utter waste of your time and is only worth seeing to make fun of it. Stay away from this one, friends; you’re only going to encourage them.
FINAL VERDICT: 3/10. SOME OLD BULLS***