Monday, May 21, 2012

Battleship review; not nearly as bad as some are saying

Battleship, the movie?  Sounds terrible right?  A movie based on a board game where the objective was basically to guess coordinates.  Well, Peter Berg didn't see it that way.  From the minute he signed on as director, he was begging audiences to give his film a chance.  When the studio saw that American's were already 'knockin' it before tryin' it', they decided to release the movie overseas a month before the United States.  The outcome?  Well, let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Story
The STORY, not the script.  The story is quite simple really.  Aliens have crash landed on earth to take over satellite communication with their home planet.  By creating a force field around a small fleet of Navy ships, the aliens have forced the fight on water.  The script is being shredded by critics, and for good reason.  But the story was simple enough to justify the existence of the aliens on our planet, and in turn "justifying" the action.

Taylor Kitsch
Taylor Kitsch's character is a hot headed young man who's joined the Navy after his older brother (played by Alexander Skarsgard), refuses to financially support him any longer.  Skarsgard's character is a captain in the Navy and is the man in charge once the navy begins their war on the aliens.  What's important to note is, Kitsch's character actually does experience a growth, a nice arc.  He may not be the best actor doing these genre films, but he is getting better with every performance.

The Action/Special Effects
It's not an easy feat to create a war over water.  As an audience, we've come to expect the best of the best.  The movie creates action set pieces that have never been seen before.  Another complaint I'm reading online is, the movie completely disregards physics... really?!  What did you expect?  This is a movie about aliens invading Earth for satellite communication!  Come on people.  Writers Eric and Jon Hoeber wrote a simple, action packed script with some bad cliches.  But Berg choreographed some great action that made even the most mundane objectives exciting.  I especially liked the way the filmmaker incorporated the simple strategy of the board game into the film, without throwing it right in our faces.  Those hating on this aspect of the film need to get over it.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Characters
Beyond Kitsch's character, there is not much more to be proud of for the writers.  The great Liam Neeson is restricted to a few scenes from a chair.  Brooklyn Decker plays his daughter, and Kitsch's love interest... for no reason.  She literally serves no purpose to the film, other than eye candy.  Then there is singer/actress Rihanna.  She is a pleasure to look at, but again, has nothing to do in the film that a nameless character couldn't have done for her.  The trailer sold her as the daughter of a Navy veteran who predicted the alien attacks.  But the script does nothing to further explore that one line of dialogue.

The Cliches
Speaking of the dialogue.  The writers must have tried their best to put in every action film cliche into the script.  There is the "Mahalo Mother F-----", BOOM, SHOT TO THE FACE.  There is the slow motion walk used in countless action films.  Only in this film, it's a set of 1940's Navy veterans asked to be a part of the final action sequence.  No seriously, I didn't make that up.  I wonder if the studio asks writers to put these things in their scripts?  Does anyone know?  I'd be curious to find out.  Nonetheless, a silly script with silly dialogue of course.

The Verdict:
Berg > Bay
The above equation says it all for me.  I'll take a Peter Berg movie over a Michael Bay film any day of the week.  The similarities between Battleship and Transformers can not be ignored.  Berg however has a way of making the action more meaningful, placing more importance on the heroics of our main characters.  The movie is not great, by any means.  But by no means is it as bad as I thought it would be.  In fact, I rather enjoyed the mind numbing action.  There are a ton of 'money shots' to get hypnotized by.  I believe it is going to flop in theaters, and maybe this is the film to finally get through Hollywood's thick skull.  More original material (Inception), less tie-ins (Transformers).  Either way, take a date to this movie and enjoy the eye candy for two hours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good write-up Tony. Every time I think about it, I change my mind. It has some good moments, but that's about it and is bogged down by seeming like just another Michael Bay flick, which is sort of what this film was going for in the first place.