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Film Review : Battleship

05/24/2012 06:13AM ● Published by Justin Buettner

What happens when an alien race from across the galaxy answers our radio transmission for contact? Apparently they fly across the galaxy to destroy and conquer, at least according to Battleship. Fortunately for Earth the Navy is in the middle of a training exercise at the time and a battleship led by Alex Hopper gets stranded inside the alien force field. Facing incredible odds Alex leads his battleship against the alien race with the fate of the Earth in his hands.

The opening scene showcasing an aimless Alex Hopper trying to court Sam, the general’s daughter, by breaking into a mini-mart to get a chicken burrito she wants was actually quite good. A movie about that relationship could have made a fun romantic comedy. I want to see that movie. Instead the Battleship credits appear and what follows is a super high budget B-movie that with each passing minute became less intelligent and unintentionally silly as it came to its predictable end.

The biggest question one could ask is why call it Battleship? I know Hasbro wanted a $200 million dollar commercial for its board game, but why include the aliens then? It was such a strange mix of concepts. If you were going to make a Battleship movie why not go for a smart action picture that uses a bit of strategy? Great sub movies like Das Boot and Hunt for the Red October should have been the type of film Battleship wanted to be. Instead they aimed for a watered down version of Transformers? The decisions that were made in this movie were baffling to say the least.

Also baffling was the inclusion of a bona fide star and great actor in Liam Neeson only to relegate him to a small supporting role. Instead a slew of young and unproven actors filled the screen. Considering the terrible quality of the script I don’t think it would be fair to blast any of the actors in this movie, but none of them did enough to stand above the comic absurdity the bad dialogue provided.

Which brings up yet another crazy decision by the producers of this movie; if you are going to spend $200 million dollars on a movie wouldn’t you bring in a better writing team than Jon and Erich Hoeber? The only credit to their name was Whiteout, a universally panned box office failure. They  delivered a script littered with bad dialogue and huge plot holes, shocking no one but perhaps the dim witted studio execs that made the decision to hire them. What is more bothersome are the several story conveniences that litter the story that anyone with half a brain would question, like why did the aliens leave a battleship unharmed during the initial attack? Why do they choose to let key characters go while they so viciously attack others? But perhaps you should be asking yourself, ’since I have the ability to think, why did I choose this movie?’

At least the producers would hire a capable director to oversea this huge budgeted movie, right? Wrong. They got Peter Berg. Berg’s only other big budget experience was Hancock, a film in which he took one of the most likable actors of our time, Will Smith, and made him an uninteresting, detestable super-hero. Perhaps a good director could have massaged this bad script and got some great moments out of it. Peter Berg instead gleefully puts every bad detail of this story on display in the flattest of fashions.

However, for those that don’t care much about plot holes or good dialogue and are looking for a movie that features a lot of explosions and computer effects, well you have found your movie. I have to admit it is fun just laughing at a movie that so unabashedly commits to being goofy in almost all regards. Honestly try keeping a straight face when the crew essentially begins playing the boardgame of Battleship in the middle of the film. With low expectations I can see how an audience will just have fun with this absurd movie, and after all I think most of us go to the movies to have fun so perhaps Battleship was more successful than this review gives it credit for.  

Films like Battleship : Cowboys and Aliens, Transformers, and Independence Day


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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