Friday, June 1, 2012


ZUMP! Kaboosh! Crrrashhumpzipppvvvvvddd. CRAAAAGAGKRRRRR!
** out of ****

A movie based on a board game is so funny in concept, it demands to be a comedy (like Clue). This movie isn't a comedy even if you try to imagine it as one while watching it. What it also isn't, is faithful to the nature of a strategy game about nautical war. It's an alien invasion flick and for a time, it's a disaster movie.

There are giant explosions, mostly good special effects, kinetic editing, high contrast imagery, shaky-cam action scenes (where sometimes you can't tell what's happening), geeks and angry people providing comic relief, demonstrations of high-tech military vessels and gear (Recruitment film friendly) and terrible song selections. In other words, Peter Berg's Battleship is a Michael Bay experience without Bay even being involved. The only credit I will give him here, is that he aims kind of low but not nearly as low as Bay's standards for how to depict humanity. The characters are all given superficial desires, but at least there are a few witty exchanges. Still, his wound up being yet another action movie that was so busy trying to be exciting, it was boring. BORING. 

It all gets off to an embarrassingly rocky start. First the science-fiction cold-opening spews off a bunch of jargon-'who cares'-exposition type stuff to give an excuse for why alien battleships will be drawn to earth later in the film. Then, we get another pre-title scene with our lead character (Taylor Kitsch) to show what an undisciplined under-acheiving maverick he is. This is all completely unnecessary. He's told by his mysteriously Swedish brother (Alexander SkarsgÄrd) that he needs to join the Navy and then the title comes up. Several scenes then ensue where our main character who is now an officer on a Destroyer... is still an undisciplined maverick! How did he get through basic training? What was the point of introducing us to the main character twice when he's not why we're here to see this movie?

Watch Mike and Jay sink this Battleship

I was kind of hoping that Liam Neeson being in this movie would guarantee him saying as intensely as possible, "You have sunk my Battleship!". That expectation didn't deliver. Just Michael Bay didn't manage to put the song, You've Got the Touch in any of his crappy Transformers movies just so I could enjoy something. 

This is a movie that is a damn good example of how desperate studios are to cash-in on familiarity: Just make a movie named after something people have at least heard of and they'll feel safe buying a ticket to go see it. 

There's a scene attempting to relate to the original game which is laughable but not as laughable as a scene near the end which I think I was supposed to laugh-with... but I couldn't help but laugh-at

I like congratulating directors who have the ambition to do really long uninterrupted takes. However, there is a new kind of long take that I'm seeing quite often. It's the kind that is powered by special effects. Battleship has a long sequence like this involving a sinking ship and all the action-involved characters that on it. None of this is practical. That would have been impossible or beyond reasonable expense. All of the artificial camera moves from one situation to the next display a lot of action without the normal kinetic shakiness this movie has. Yet, it just feels so phony. Avengers did the same thing but got away with it... I guess because it's comic book world.

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