Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Battleship" Review

When I heard they were making a movie based on the Hasbro board game, Battleship, I thought what a dumb idea. If you don't know, it's a board game based on a paper game where you guess where the other guy's ships are and try to sink them. When I was growing up, the game featured two plastic boards with plastic ships. There were plastic pegs which you used to put on your grid to mark misses and hits by your opponent. So if the other side hit your ship, you used a peg to pin it on your ship. Trust me this is important for the review of this movie. When I was watching this movie, my first question was "Does a dumb idea for a movie make a dumb movie?" Then after one hour, as an American I was praying, "Please dear God, dont' let the U.S. Navy cooperate with this movie."

I really can't review Battleship without discussing the details of the plot. Because if I say this movie is goofy, you wont' believe me unless I point it out. Writers Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber mix cliches with elements of the game to produce a screenplay. The movie begins in the year 2005. It starts out in a bar with Navy Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander SkarsgÄrd) celebrating his irresponsible brother Alex's (Taylor Kitsch) birthday. Kitsch looks like he just walked of the set of John Carter of Mars with his pageboy haircut. Anyway, in comes Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), a beautiful physical therapist. She's the daughter of Admiral Shane. (Liam Neeson) She goes up to the bartender and orders a frozen chicken burrito. The chubby bartender closes the microwave and says the kitchen is closed. WHAT?! Decker is so voluptuous that you don't care if she acts or not. She's that magnetic. So fat bartender denies her a chicken burrito. Really? She's that beautiful and you can't put a frozen burrito in the microwave? Seriously? If Brooklyn Decker asked me to lick her shoes, I would do it. There must be the death penalty against nuking a chicken burrito after hours. But I digress.

With great stupidity, comes really idiotic behavior.

Alex decides that this is his chance to hit on the lovely Samantha. When he can't get a burrito from the bar, he tells Samantha that he'll get her one in five minutes. Okay, you are asking, "Why the hell didn't he bribe the bartender?" Um, because that's too logical. Anyway, Alex commits the crime of breaking and entering of a food mart, which in many states is a a felony. He literally is running from the police when he presents Samantha with the burrito. Not only does he present it to her, he's tased as he does so. Of course logic dictates that she falls in love with him. And the movie ends because Alex dies from the multiple taser hits. Okay that didn't happen. I kid. But you might wish it did. Later Stone admonishes Alex to get responsible. Alex does by joining the Navy and becomes a lieutenant serving as a tactical action officer aboard the destroyer USS. John Paul Jones.

This being a movie based on a board game, it's really an indie film about familial relationships. Okay, I kid. I keeed. We got to have aliens in here somewhere. Just remember with great stupidity, comes really idiotic behavior. Scientists discover an earth like planet light years away and send a radio signal from Hawaii to it. One scientist says if the E.T. comes he'll be like Columbus to the Indians. with us as the Indians. One should ask at this moment, "HOW THE HELL DO WE KNOW IF THEY ARE PEACEFUL?"

Director Peter Berg uses camera gymnastics to make sure you don't lose interest in the first forty minutes or maybe he's trying to make the movie more realistic by giving the audience seasickness. Anyway, he has the radio signal look like a laser blast, complete with sound effects Oh, who cares about science in a science fiction movie.

Steven Spielberg should sue.

Of course the aliens come. And they are not a friendly bunch. They are sea faring and their spaceships land in the Pacific ocean near an allied fleet doing war exercises. One of the ships is the John Paul Jones with Alex aboard. Also aboard is Rihanna who plays gunner mate Cora Raikes. During the movie she breaks into a hip hop song. Okay, she doesn't sing and she's not that good an actress. You know maybe it would have been better for this movie if she did break into song.

Okay, the alien ships make a mistake when invading earth. The aliens can't bloody drive. Their communications ship rear ends a satellite. So the aliens send a ship to the radar array that sent the signal to them. The purpose? Use the array to phone home and ask for more money. Okay, the plot indicates if they phone home, and the rest of the aliens would come to Hawaii for spring break. Sorry about that. They would come and invade earth. This begs the question why not come in force in the first place like Independence Day? (1996) And by the way the "phone home" phrase is used. Universal who produced this turkey also produced E.T. So they can't sue themselves. Maybe Steven Spielberg can sue.

Attack of the Lizard Amish.

I do have a rule in monster movies. The film must show that monster. But in Battleship, it was a really contrived and a silly idea. Frankly, there was no reason to show the aliens. That's because the movie doesn't really tell us why they're here. Yeah, they want to take over the planet. Or maybe they want to find President Barack Obama's long form birth certificate. The only reason we got to see the aliens was to produce fights mano-a-mano with the actors. In this day of CGI, you would expect them to create some wild looking aliens.

Instead, I'm guessing director Berg had a bad experience with the Amish. The aliens are humanoid. They are pasty faced. They have a red hair soul patch beard. They look like Amish on steroids. Okay, they have lizard eyes. Make them Lizard Amish.

"You sunk my battleship."

In the seventies, there was a commercial for the game. It showed a kid who would yell to his opponent after a successful kill, "You sunk my battleship." So I was waiting for this moment of pop culture. Alas, the writers couldn't get it in. But they got close with a sailor saying something like they "won't sink this battleship."

I've got to give it to the filmmakers for channeling the game for the movie. Remember the plastic pegs from the game? Well, the aliens fire mines shaped like the pegs. The flying mines stick in the hulls of the ship before they explode. The aliens also have a spinning wheel machine that can wreck havoc on targets.

If peg shaped mines sounds illogical, this movie is full of moments like that. One thing I didn't get is why the aliens did not obliterate Alex's destroyer in the first encounter. Oh, that's right you wouldn't have a movie. But after the dumb actions by the humans in the first half hour, I was rooting for the aliens until you realize the aliens are as dumb as the humans. And to bring credibility to this mess, you have Rihanna. There is one remarkable moment with her. With all the mayhem around her and with her jumping in the water, her baseball cap stays on.

So, was there anything of redeeming value to Battleship? Yeah, it's actually the part where the John Paul Jones and the alien ships can't see each other. The humans use tsunami buoys to locate the aliens, with another nod to the board game. It's tense. But you have to wade through an hour of stupidty before we get there.

An American apologizes to Scotland.

After the credits run, there's one more scene of cinematic stupidity. Three Scottish boys find an alien capsule. They get their father. He decides the smart thing to do is to use his power saw to open it. Right. He doesn't go to the government for help or call the local university. Of course, a Lizard Amish alien comes out. As an American I apologize.

Battleship is so bad, I'm sorry that the U.S. Navy cooperated with the production of this movie. Battleship lowers the cinematic intelligence of this crop of summer movies. It's dumb. And the only thing dumber than this turkey is to make a sequel. The is grade is D.

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