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Film Review: Battleship

The recent history for American action films based on Hasbro toys didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence for Battleship; GI Joe and the Transformers trilogy were bad, and in the Battleship trailer there were plenty of visual similarities to those. Though maybe doing a film based on a boring game would be a stroke of genius and it’d surprise with its unexpected brilliance. Maybe.

At Pearl Harbor, a multinational naval fleet, including Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), weapons specialist Cora Raikes (Rihanna) and Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), combats a fierce alien species in a battle at sea, in order to end the aliens’ deadly plans for the planet.

Awkward tonal shifts are a problem that blights Battleship throughout. There’re several unfunny comedy sections, especially at the start, and then it tries some more serious action, yet just stays uninteresting. The dialogue can change from action clichés, to poor jokes, to Rhianna shooting objects and then saying “Boom!” If this film was going to work, assuming that they had to keep varying the tone, then it was critical that it balanced these aspects better. At least it’s consistently awful in that manner; likewise I consistently never cared for any of the characters involved. I hoped for a fair bit of Liam Neeson (he’s on and named in practically all of the promotional material), which might have boosted my attention, but he’s non-existent for the bulk of Battleship.  Still, the most inexcusable mistake is that with all the terrible dialogue and jokes, there wasn’t one “you sunk my battleship” gag.

The attacking aliens are pretty uninspired. Their masterful scheme is primarily “go to earth” and then “destroy things.” I guess it works for them for a bit but they keep doing the same stuff and it gets dull fast. Their design isn’t particularly exciting either. CGI gunmetal grey ships and spinning death circles, both of which I don’t recall from the game. Actually, except for a bit involving buoys and “water displacement”, there’s not much resembling the game. However if there was going to be a board game solely based on Michael Bay, the film adaptation would probably be similar to this.

Whether it’s the frequent loud AC/DC songs, the extremely loud entire rest of it or the various attempts to balance different film types, it all doesn’t work in Battleship. If the story had parts that were alright, or perhaps less tiresome, then they could’ve been fleshed out; instead someone played a monotonous game and thought “hmmmmh?! This could make an okay/ moneymaking film.” There are plenty of explosions and people know of the game but, apart from that, Battleship offers little and manages to go overboard with everything else.

-Jon Bartholomew

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