Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sink or Swim - Battleship Simply Floats: A Movie Review

*spoiler alert.

Director: Peter Berg.

Writers: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber.

Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson.

Hollywood has this fondness for developing what is well known, especially with huge moneymakers, into a movie. From books to comics, the board game world is not often touched. While they have yet to turn "Monopoly" or "Risk" into a viable plot, one particularly fondly played board game made its stamp with the moniker, "You sunk my Battleship!"

For this atypical popcorn action-adventure alien-invasion flick, the movie Battleship does not have a lot of originality.

The film centers on Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a slacker-bum who will have to become a hero. He also falls for the Admiral's daughter, Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker). When the aliens invade, they are conveniently separated and the two have to work together in order to save the world from this cosmic threat.

Watching this movie brings to the fore recollections of Pearl Harbour, Independence Day and Battlefield: Los Angeles. Plenty of loud explosions can be heard, and for once, viewers get to see what the invaders look like.

The extraterrestrials look like grunts with some resemblance from Kilowog’s race from the "Green Lantern" comic books. They never talk to indicate where they are from. Comic book aficionados can expect the aliens to refer to the whole human race as "useless rookies" in the art of war. But true to form, these mysterious creatures from outer space might be responding to a NASA transmission to make peaceful contact. When one of the alien ships collide with an satellite and there is no indication if that was accidental, their intent is far from peaceful.

In the meantime, Hopper becomes the de facto person to take command. When the space invaders have landed, their interest is more like phoning home than to communicate their intent. They have shielded a part of the Hawaiian islands to conduct their own war games.

Audiences will never know if the aliens truly arrived in peace, or if they were really out to conquer. True to this genre of action adventure cum thriller genre, no one is ever interested in talking. They use their guns to do all the shouting. Had there have been more, like in how ID4 presented what the alien's agenda was, then there is an engaging film to be had. Audiences can not really feel for either Hopper or Shane. The two mightier stars, Liam Neeson and Rihanna are hardly utilized.

Even as a popcorn movie, the clich├ęs are overdone. The movie is mediocre fun since the board game enthusiasts may want to make comparisons to how this movie is reinventing a classic game of war. Even then, maybe the bigger question to ask is: “Where is my battleship?”

The alien craft is obvious. Earth-wise, the mother-of-all sea-based vessels do not appear until much later and that’s disappointing.

There are better marketable games that made a successful movie transition. "Jumanji" can be read as a variation of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow tale, but some may argue that’s a far stretch in terms of interpretation. "Clue" is unique because it was a movie that had multiple endings. That made audiences want to come back to see them all. Battleship could have done with some kind of draw than to be cut-and-dry.

Sink or swim, there is one simple game that is begging for a big screen treatment: "Kill Doctor Lucky." This murder to do product was created by Cheapass Games and it brings the absurd into play in an Inspector Clouseau-esque way. The kills can lead to some hilariously gory moments when other victims are offed instead of Doctor Lucky. Now that would make for a better movie than Battleship. Hopefully producers will be reading, since board game movies are an untapped market.

Overall: 5 out of 10.

The film's homepage is here:

Battleship's Official Website

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