CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: BATTLESHIP (2012)
By Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares
(THE SCENE: A beach. On the ocean in the distance, a massive battleship is battling an even more massive alien spaceship. On the beach, MICHAEL ARRUDA and L.L. SOARES sit across from each other on beach chairs, with a table between them, playing the board game BATTLESHIP. They seem oblivious to the commotion on the sea behind them.)
LS: Steak Sauce!
MA: This isn’t a quiz! A-1.
MA: Miss? Where the hell are your ships? I haven’t hit one yet! Are you cheating?
LS: I never cheat! You’re just not very good at this game.
MA: What’s to be good at? You just call out letters and numbers, and eventually you’ll hit some ships.
LS: That’s why you’re losing. You don’t have any strategy.
MA: Really? What’s your strategy?
LS: I hide my ships well.
MA: Yeah, like off the board! (There is a massive explosion on the ocean, and for a moment MA & LS turn their attention to the sea battle.)
LS: Those guys are still going at it.
MA: It gets boring after a while, doesn’t it? Kinda like this week’s movie.
LS: I take it you didn’t like it?
LS: Care to tell us about it?
MA: Not really, but since I’m losing this game, anyway, I might as well.
Today we’re reviewing BATTLESHIP (2012), the new movie based on the Hasbro game BATTLESHIP. There’s been a lot of joking about this one for months now, since its plot—a story about the navy battling aliens from outer space—has nothing to do with the board game.
LS: As you folks can see, there are just battleships on this board. No space ships.
MA: Not yet anyway. I kept thinking during the movie that the marketing department will come out with a new version of the game which will include alien spaceships.
LS: That’s not so far-fetched. If this movie is a hit, I bet that new version of the game will be coming out next week!
MA: All joking aside, I had hoped that this one wouldn’t be bad. After all, it’s about battleships battling alien space ships. How bad can it be? Very bad, as it turns out. But I’ll get to that in a moment, maybe even in half a moment, since the plot synopsis isn’t going to take long.
BATTLESHIP is about Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a young man with no direction, unlike his older brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) who is very responsible and in the Navy and looks out for his younger brother. When Alex tries to impress a sexy woman at a bar, in a comedic sequence that is embarrassingly awkward and out of place, he ends up afoul of the law and hits rock bottom. Stone put his foot down and tells Alex—in order to pull his life together—he has to join the Navy.
LS (shouting): Chicken Burrito!
MA: That’s not funny.
LS: I dunno, I saw Liam Neeson crack a smile at it in this movie.
(Suddenly, a loud Disco beat can be heard getting louder, and someone is chanting “The Navy, The Navy, The Navy.” Suddenly, the VILLAGE PEOPLE appear on the beach, in costume and dancing around on the sand)
VILLAGE PEOPLE: IN THE NAVY!
YES, YOU CAN SAIL THE SEVEN SEAS!
IN THE NAVY!
MA: No, no, no! Reviewing this movie is bad enough. I will not be subjected to disco music as well!
LS: I kinda like it.
MA: Go away! Now! All of you!
(The VILLAGE PEOPLE look dejected as they stop singing and dancing and walk away)
LS: Spoil sport.
MA: We have a review to do. We don’t have time for that stuff. Anyway, where was I?
Of course, it turns out that the woman in the bar, Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) is the daughter of Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson)… who is, of course, a big wig in The Navy…
(The VILLAGE PEOPLE come back, singing and dancing)
VILLAGE PEOPLE: IN THE NAVY!
YES, YOU CAN PUT YOUR MIND AT EASE!
IN THE NAVY!
MA: No, no! Go away! Go away!
(The VILLAGE PEOPLE skulk off)
MA: Samantha, of course, immediately falls madly in love with Alex—why? I don’t know—and they want to get married, but first he has to ask permission from her father, the hard-assed Admiral. Again, we have to suffer through some awkward cliché comedic moments.
Meanwhile, scientists have built a communication network to communicate with other earth-like planets in the universe. Suddenly, the signal is answered as NASA tracks a group of ships descending towards Earth. These ships get here in a few minutes. They must have some pretty fast ships!
As you already know, ships land, aliens emerge with more fighting machines, and it’s up to the Navy to protect the Earth. More specifically, it’s up to Lieutenant Alex Hopper to prove that he really is a good officer, because it’s his ship that has to battle it out with the aliens, and it’s Alex who suddenly finds himself in command. Well, that’s believable!
Unfortunately, the good Admiral Shane and the rest of the Navy are blocked from the action by a gigantic wall of energy that prevents them from getting through to the battle, which means Liam Neeson disappears for the bulk of this movie.
LS: Lucky for him! I bet that was in his contract! “I’ll appear in this huge piece of dog crap if you give me lots of money and I get to disappear for most of the movie!”
MA: Not only does Alex get to save the world, but he has to worry about his girlfriend, because Samantha is also in harm’s way, in another dull clichéd storyline that I won’t even get into here.
LS: Yeah, it is pretty dull. I didn’t care about her storyline at all. But I guess I did kind of like Gregory D. Gadson as Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales, who appears in her part of the movie. Gadson was a real-life soldier and a double amputee. His role isn’t very well written and he’s not a great actor, but the man does have charisma on a movie screen. I just wish they’d done something more interesting with him
MA: So, how does it all end? Let’s put it this way: “Aliens from outer space, we hardly knew ye!”
There is so much wrong with this movie, I don’t know where to start. I hated this movie. I was bored within the first ten minutes, and this is a two hour and ten minute movie. It was a long night at the theater.
By far, the worst part is the writing. It’s so obvious that the screenplay by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber was thrown together for the sole purpose of marketing a movie based on the game BATTLESHIP. It’s not like they had a real story to tell and set out to tell it. They had a script to write based on a game. There’s a HUGE difference. There’s nothing stimulating or moving about this story. It doesn’t connect at any level. It’s an insult to our intelligence as moviegoers.
This movie is so full of clichés it’s nauseating. The loser hero who must make good, who has to prove to his potential father–in-law that he’s good enough for his daughter, who has to set aside all his doubts and prove that he can lead. There’s more, but why go on?
I didn’t like any of the characters. The performances for the most part are fine, but everyone’s stuck in this dreadful story, and so none of the players come close to saving this one. The only guy who could have saved this movie is Liam Neeson, but his character is off-screen for the bulk of the action. Had this film pitted Neeson’s Admiral against the aliens, I’m sure I would have liked it better. It would have at least given me a character to root for.
LS: I agree. Neeson as the movie’s hero would have probably improved things a lot.
MA: Taylor Kitsch plays Alex Hopper. Kitsch, as you might remember, played John Carter in JOHN CARTER (2012). I didn’t like him in that movie much, and I didn’t really like him here, either. A big part of the problem is Kitsch comes off as so laid back, as if he should be carrying a surfboard on a beach like this. I didn’t really buy him as a Navy officer.
LS: See, this is where I start to disagree with you. I like Kitsch a lot. He’s no Liam Neeson—-.
MA: I’ll say! He’s more like Ashton Kutcher. Ugh!
LS: NO FRIGGIN WAY! Aside from one awful performance in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009), where he adopted a horrendous Cajun accent to play Remy LeBeau (aka Gambit), in a role he was completely miscast for, I’m actually a big fan of Kitsch. I was a big fan of his long-running TV show, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT (2006 – 2011), where he played high school football star Tim Riggins. And I still say that JOHN CARTER was one of the best movies of this year so far. I was really bummed out when Disney proclaimed the movie a flop and even fired a few executives who had greenlit it. I think the movie is terrific and I bet it goes on to become a full-fledged cult movie.
In BATTLESHIP, however, I just felt sorry for him. The guy has charisma, and can actually carry a movie, but this is a completely thankless role. I just hope that if TRANSFORMERS—er, I mean, BATTLESHIP—is a flop, Kitsch won’t get part of the blame again, because he does the best he can with a completely horrible script.
MA: I dunno. I didn’t like JOHN CARTER all that much, and I certainly didn’t like BATTLESHIP, so as far as I’m concerned, in recent movies, the guy’s 0 for 2.
LS: What do you know? I really hope he gets a chance to redeem himself in the upcoming Oliver Stone movie, SAVAGES.
MA: Okay, that one looks good, so maybe he’ll win me over yet.
Brooklyn Decker is beautiful as Samantha Shane, and she’s okay for the most part, but again, she’s stuck in a role that we’ve seen countless times before. The rest of the cast is the same. No one is able to lift this movie to a better place.
LS: That’s true. I actually liked a lot of people in this cast, but nobody could have saved this flounder. By the way, Brooklyn Decker was okay, but I wasn’t sure what the fuss was all about. She’s a model-turned-actress, and she’s not horrible here. And she is pretty. But she’s no Megan Fox!
MA: She’s pretty close.
LS: Not really.
MA: Yeah, I thought she was pretty hot.
LS: She’s hot, but she’s no Megan Fox. And I didn’t care all that much for her character. I was much more interested in singer Rihanna as Petty Officer Cora “Weps” Raikes. She was one tough cookie, and she fought right alongside the men. Sure, she her role was a complete cliché, just like every other role here, but the lady has more charisma onscreen than Decker.
MA: Nah! She kinda annoyed me. I thought she was a Michelle Rodriguez wannabe.
LS: Hey, I like Michelle Rodriguez, too!
I also liked Alexander Skarsgard as Alex’s older brother, Stone Hopper. Actually, “liked” is the wrong word, since I don’t think his character amounted to much, either. More like it was cool to see Skarsgard in this movie, even if he was just filling space. Fans of the HBO series TRUE BLOOD will recognize Skarsgard as the vampire Eric Northman. He is one of the best things on TRUE BLOOD, but his movie career hasn’t been too impressive so far. Roles in that awful remake of STRAW DOGS (2011) and this pile of dog crap don’t help. But it’s still good to see him. Someone give this man a decent movie role already!
Fans of Taylor Kitsch’s TV show, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, will also be happy to see Kitsch reunited with another actor from that show, Jesse Plemmons, who played Landry Clarke on FNL. Here he plays “Boatswain Mate Seaman Jimmy “Ordy” Ord.” Who the hell came up with these names?? Plemmons is good at playing comic relief-type characters, and he does what he can here with, once again, an underwritten character. There sure are a lot of those in this movie!
MA: Director Peter Berg includes lots of CGI battle scenes, but why was I bored throughout? Because I’ve seen scenes like this a hundred times before—take your pick, from WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) to BATTLE L.A. (2011).
LS: I actually like Peter Berg, too. He started out as an actor on the TV series CHICAGO HOPE (1995 – 1999), and then went on to direct the funny but flawed VERY BAD THINGS (1998). Since then, he’s directed more high-profile movies like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2004) —he was also the Executive Producer of the TV series version, see a pattern here? —THE KINGDOM (2007) and HANCOCK (2008). Needless to say, not everything he’s done has been great, but I like him, and I think this movie was a waste of his talents.
But you’re right; BATTLESHIP is an awful lot like BATTLE: LOS ANGELES. There’s nothing new here at all.
MA: Yep, BATTLESHIP offers nothing new.
This one plays like a Roland Emmerich movie, but worse! His stories are actually better! What this movie really reminded me of was the dreadful G.I. JOE: RISE OF THE COBRA (2009) movie, another film based on a toy. That was another movie with tons of action and adventure, with a plot thrown in as an afterthought. Please, stop making movies based on games and toys!! They’re horrible! Unless, of course, you actually have a decent story to tell.
And how about those aliens? We know nothing about them. They’ve come here to invade, obviously. I guess so, anyway. They just land and start shooting at us. But maybe they’re not invading. Maybe they just want us to stop playing our music so loud. Or perhaps they worship chickens on their planet and are horrified at the way we treat the fowls. I don’t know, because the movie doesn’t tell us!! Even the alien ships are disappointing, as they look like TRANSFORMERS.
LS: This isn’t TRANSFORMERS, it’s BATTLESHIP!
MA: I know that. I was making a comparison.
LS: Oh…I don’t know. I didn’t think the aliens in BATTLESHIP were all that amazing, but I didn’t completely hate them, either. With their weird, oversized hands and human-like faces, I thought they were at least interesting to look at.
MA: For about ten seconds, yeah, but as soon as it became apparent that they weren’t actually going to do anything, I lost interest.
LS: But the ships, yeah. These aliens definitely went to their local TRANSFORMERS dealership.
MA: BATTLESHIP is so fake, phony, forced and contrived, it’s painful. It also has a cookie-cutter ending that will amaze you in its simplicity. If we can dispose of bad-ass aliens this easily, no one’s ever going to invade us again!
LS: Yep, I have to agree. The ending is sappy as hell and completely lame.
MA: BATTLESHIP is a horrible movie. Stay away from this one so the powers that be will get the hint that turning board games into movies is a bad idea.
I give it 0 knives.
LS: Wow, you really hated this one. I can’t say I blame you. It’s dumb, the script is awful, there are big chunks that are boring, the CGI seems like a retread of TRANSFORMERS, and the entire concept of a movie based on a board game is kind of insulting to people plunking down ten bucks for a movie ticket.
But I didn’t hate it as much as you did. Mainly, because there were a few people in the cast who I liked, who kept me from nodding off completely. And I still say Taylor Kitsch has a lot of potential to become a big movie star. He’s just had awful luck so far. JOHN CARTER was a great movie that got a bad rap. And BATTLESHIP is just plain bad.
For the cast alone, I’ve got to give this one ~ one and a half knives.
But that’s not to say I like this movie at all, or that I’m recommending that anyone go see it. If you want to see this thing, wait until it comes out on DVD and rent it. Like Michael said, we do not want to encourage Hollywood to keep making bad movies based on board games! Hasbro, go back to the toy store!
You know what really makes me angry? I reviewed the trailer for this movie back in August 2011 in my TRASHING TRAILERS column, and even back then I could see it was a complete dog. I’m angry that I had to actually sit through this movie. I could have reviewed it based on the trailer alone and saved myself ten bucks and over 2 hours of my life!
MA: There you have it, folks. It looks like this BATTLESHIP is dead in the water.
LS: You know my other big problem with this movie? When I saw it, there was a commercial for The Navy beforehand, and I swear, there were times in BATTLESHIP when I couldn’t tell the difference. I thought I was watching the commercial all over again. And I’m sorry, THAT’S NOT ENTERTAINMENT!
MA: You’re right. This movie was a lot like a bad commercial, one that unfortunately lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes! (LS and MA both groan really loud)
(VOICE from off-screen shouts)
VOICE: What did you say it was a commercial for?
LS: The Navy!
(The VILLAGE PEOPLE suddenly reappear on the beach, singing and dancing to a loud disco beat)
MA: Oh my God, not this again!! I’m getting out of here.
LS: Suit yourself. (He gets up and dances along with them)
© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares
Michael Arruda gives BATTLESHIP~ ZERO knives!
LL Soares gives BATTLESHIP ~ ONE AND A HALF knives!