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.