Now Playing: Toss This ‘Battleship’ a Life-Preserver

I’ve been an unapologetic fan of director Peter Berg for some time now, but today I hang my head in shame for his extreme failure. This old ‘Battleship’ capsizes before it even leaves the dock.

Imagine every big-budget blockbuster you’ve ever seen crammed into one 131-minute movie, and that’s what you’re getting with ‘Battleship’. It begins with a scientist noticing alien objects hurtling towards Earth in a unique pattern, then does that typical disaster movie jump to another set of characters who will later be affected by the event. (I wish I could say that they’d “soon” be affected, but contact with the alien ships doesn’t happen until 35 minutes in.) The first chunk of the movie is dedicated to building its shallow, pointless characters and their ridiculous relationships. All of this silliness is done with the goofy tone that Michael Bay employs in his movies. Much of what’s done here resembles ‘Armageddon‘. What follows contains elements from ‘E.T.’, ‘Rocky‘, ‘Top Gun‘, ‘The Avengers’, ‘The Darkest Hour‘, ‘Pearl Harbor‘ and ‘Titanic’.

Just because we finally get to see alien ships in the story after half an hour doesn’t mean that we’ll get actual aliens. No, those ‘Halo’-looking things seen in the trailers don’t come in until the 61-minute mark. When I say ‘Halo’, I don’t mean that they look like the aliens in the ‘Halo’ games; I mean that they look like the humans in ‘Halo’. If the aliens’ protective suits had been coupled with the weaponry from ‘District 9‘, this would be the ‘Halo’ movie that never saw the light of day.

The premise to ‘Battleship’ is so slim and disengaging that its long run-time is shocking. Aliens crash in the ocean, the Navy attacks them, they blow up a bunch of destroyers so the Navy retreats, the Navy literally plays the game of Battleship by blindly shooting into coordinates on a grid, a dumb blonde and a legless guy fight aliens in the jungle, and there’s one last showdown. The end. Because this content is so needlessly stretched thin, ‘Battleship’ feels very long.

Liam Neeson plays a bookend character that we see in the beginning of the movie and entirely forget about until he pops up again in the end. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) plays the lead character, and he’s just fine – but the rest of the cast is terrible. Rihanna’s character is pointless. The only thing she accomplishes is to perfectly convey that she has no business acting whatsoever. Brooklyn Decker is nothing more than a pretty face that looks great in a bikini. The rest of the no-name actors are just as bad.

I enjoy a good mindless action movie, but ‘Battleship’ feels like it was made up from left-over ‘Transformers‘ footage. The action is portrayed on a grand scale, yet it’s never once tense. As I watched, I felt like a simple spectator watching absurd unexplained actions taking place before me. I had nothing more than a blank stare on my face. Talk about a waste of $200 million. The most that my mind was actively engaged during the screening was when I tried to fill in the many plot holes on my own.

Although I laughed a few times (especially at the fun stuff like watching characters call out coordinates and shoot into the sea in the hopes of hitting something), I just can’t find it in my heart to recommend this loud time-waster. As much as I had hoped for a character to exclaim, “You sunk my battleship,” by the time the closing credits started rolling, assuming that it would happen during a post-credits easter egg (which it doesn’t), I simply didn’t care anymore.

A quote from ‘Billy Madison‘ mirrors my opinion on ‘Battleship’: “Mr. [Berg], what you have [made] is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever [seen]. At no point, in your rambling incoherent [movie] were you even close to anything that could be considered [entertaining]. Everyone in this [theater] is now dumber for having [seen] it. I award you [one star] and may God have mercy on your soul.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆


  1. One star, huh? It actually got marginal thumbs-up from both Roger Ebert and Christy Lemire. Entertainment Weekly gave it a postitive review, as did TIME magazine and Rex Reed. Guess it’s all what you expect from it, but almost all the reviews say it’s worlds’ better than the last two TRANSFORMERS films.

    • I felt the same way while watching this movie as I felt in the last two ‘Transformers’ films. But, really, saying something is better than those movies really shouldn’t be considered a “good or decent movie.” It doesn’t take much at all to surpass the quality of those.

      Luke and I rarely agree on movies, but I’m with him here. This movie was excruciating. One of the worst sound mixes I’ve heard in quite a while.

  2. Is this really based on a board game, or is it just because there is a board game called Battleship that people are assuming that? I mean, I don’t remember anything like “B4 – you destroyed my alien invader” in that old game.

    • It is officially licensed from and based on the board game. Hasbro produced the film.

      You may notice in the trailers that the aliens shoot pegs at the battleships. Yes, really.

    • JM

      The new Battleship board game is based on the movie with alien enemies.

      Hasbro invested $1 million in the script, and gets 5% of the box office.

      But mostly the movie is a commercial for the toys and the video games.

  3. A friend of mine described this today as: “Peter Berg’s SMASH BOOM action extravaganza is basically a Transformers movie for people who wish Michael Bay would get rid of all that character development and moral complexity.”

    To truly understand just how idiotic this movie is, what you have to realize is that the U.S. Navy has not actively used battleships in its fleets for decades. The last American battleships, the U.S.S. Wisconsin and the U.S.S. Missouri, were decommissioned in 1991 and 1992.

  4. JM

    The president of Universal is a high school dropout and a US marine.

    His daughter is married to Tobey Maguire.

    Maybe ‘Battleship: The Movie’ grew out of family game night.

  5. To put it plain and simple, I’ll tell you about one scene in specific that relay the stupidity of this movie. If you don’t want a scene SPOILER, then don’t read on. — There’s one scene where a leg-less vet literally begins a boxing match with an alien. There’s even the slow-motion fist-to-the-CG-alien-face shot that shows teeth soaring through the air. Need I say more, or will you finally believe me?

  6. I would like to see it in theaters 1st . for me it’s that type of movie you should see in theaters. Though knowing that Rihanna is in the film degrades me wanting to see it (i just think she’s just plain annyoing !) & Taylor Kitsch just can’t catch a break he’s 2 for 2 in box office disasters (though battleship has been out for a month overseas ) it has earned back some of it’s change back , but it doesn’t look like it will even cross $100m here in the states. Still will check it out anyway.

  7. I thought it was fun. Yes, it’s one of those “check your brain at the door” movies – but so is AVENGERS for that matter. If you like films like INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2012, and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, you’ll like BATTLESHIP. Also, it’s worlds better than any of the TRANSFORMERS movies…even the first one.

      • EM

        Hmm, that reminds me of an entertaining horror film I saw on video this weekend: The Whisperer in Darkness, a 2011-produced 1930sish adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name.

    • Yeah I like all of those movies and found Battleship to be mind numbingly awful, I love my Cheese but this literally pulled an Asylum and ripped off the best of those movies you just mentioned, changed nothing and slapped it on the screen. Sorry but saying this is/was better than the first Transformers is really stretching here, Michael Bay is pretty bad at characters but Battleship’s characters were so cliched it wasnt even funny, loser becomes the hero, something happens with the brother of the loser to make him step up, Legless guy finds his will to live and fight when the aliens land (and then has a horrible fist fight with one), you name it, its happened in every other action movie like it. At least in Transformers you didnt have lame cliched characters like this, the stupid humor and low brow crap Bay put in (especially in Part 2) still wasnt as bad as Battleship was. Plus Bay can out film Berg any day when it comes to action scenes.

      Also even comparing this movie to the Avengers is laughable, Avengers isnt a leave your brain at the door type of film and it shows by the fact that Battleship could barely make $25 mil this weekend when Avengers just keeps smoking everything in its path, Avengers is smart, funny and has way more action scenes that are filmed infinitely better, having Battleship in the same sentence is Blasphemy…..

  8. To those of you who’ve seen both, how does this compare to ‘Battle: Los Angeles’?

    I kind of liked ‘Battle: L.A.’, despite its preponderance of cliches.

    • They’re both as grating on the ear drums as they can possibly be. ‘Battle: L.A.’ tried to be ‘Black Hawk Down’ alien-style whereas ‘Battleship’ tries to be ‘Transformers’ without coming out and saying it is.

      They’re both just as stupid. If I had to choose one to watch again I don’t know which I’d choose. I HATE ‘Battle: L.A.’s terrible shaky-cam aesthetic, but I also HATE ‘Battleship’s boneheadedness. They’re interchangeable.

    • For me its definitely Battle LA, I liked the characters SO much better and I enjoyed the close Call of Duty type action WAY more, Battleship has some pretty decent action sequences though and if you have to watch it, at least you got those, but everything else is just crap, Battle LA is oscar worthy IMO compared to Battleship, but again thats just my opinion 🙂

  9. JM

    ‘Battleship’s unsolvable problem is that navy battles are un-cinematic.

    The intersection of story, budget, and audience is dead center Bermuda Triangle.