One of the difficulties I had with this film was that in attempting to write a review of it, I had a hard time finding words that would not make my opinion carry an NC-17 rating. I found myself channeling Samuel L. Jackson at his foulest: "What #!$&**! moron had the #!$&**! stupid #!$&**! idea to make this #!$&**! movie in the first place?"
Good heavens, ships that cross the galaxy but hop on the water as a means of transportation? Smack my head, aliens who live on a planet the same distance from their sun as we do ours, but can't abide sunlight? (But do have eyes and noses and beards and thumbs and molars, sorry, that's a spoiler, but then the whole movie is a spoiler, and wow, am I so sorry I paid money to see this stinkeroo!)
Taylor Kitsch is far worse in the main character role as Alex Hopper than he was as John Carter of Mars in John Carter. We see his character development from the beginning as being a drunken moron with no self-control to becoming a government-subsidized moron with no self-control. But oh, when the going gets tough with undefeatable aliens, he suddenly becomes Mr. Hero, and uses his lack of self-discipline to see outside the box and use Pirates of the Carribbean tactics to defeat his enemy.
Oh, yes, and Hasbro toy strategy, too, let's not forget that, as Hasbro was the proud father of this desperate attempt to sell the next generation of its sort-of-popular game "Battleship."
Ahem. Back to Samuel L. Jackson.
Acting: #!$&**!#!$&**! Including Liam Neeson (what the #!$&**! was he thinking) but possibly excluding Rihanna, who at least stayed in character the whole #!$&**! movie through and conducted her character with verve and grace.
CGI and Special Effects: Oh, please. #!$&**!#!$&**!#!$&**!
When I was a child, I ran alone in the woods, forbidden by my mother, but advised by my father to listen, watch, and abide by my instincts when I disobeyed. In approaching this premiere, my instincts screamed at me to avoid this movie, shouting that it was a dish of oatmeal infused with cereal box toys and Pop-Rocks.
Dad, I should have listened.
Did you ever notice how some actors get typecast right off the bat in their careers? Sometimes it works for the best, sometimes not. Look at Sean Connery. I mean, he is James Bond, or at least was. He was so identified by the Bond character (and vice versa) that there can be no serious discussion of Bond movies without the obligatory nod to Sean Connery. Similarly, it took years and years to see Sean Connery in a movie and not see James Bond in the role. To Connery's credit, his admirable work ethic prevailed and he was finally able to make us realize that there was a tremendous actor there, someone who could be the iconic Bond and nonetheless be the only possible person to play Indiana Jones' father.
I think we are seeing something very similar happening to Taylor Kitsch. First we see him cast as John Carter of Mars who rides around on a thoat and falls in love with Deja Thoris, the princess whose father runs the city of Hilium. Now we have him cast as John Carter of Bars, who leaves the bars to join the Navy and ride around on a boat, and falls in love with Ditsy Thoris whose father is Liam Neeson who runs the U.S. Navy. And with all the battle scenes in these similar motion pictures, it is getting pretty easy to associate the name Taylor Kitch with the word "bomb."
I knew what I was getting into when I went to see Battleship. I figured there would be a weak story and lackluster acting, but I was counting on the special effects to satisfy my annual desire to see things blown up real good. Remember I was the person who dragged Sand off to see both Skyline and The Expendables (the two worst films I've ever seen), and to some extent this movie fit the bill. Lots of things got blown up. Still, I always kind of hope that there will be at least a little substance from the story or that the blowin' up bits will be really remarkable.
So the story is pretty basic. Aliens invade the Earth. They are ugly and none too bright, which is good because they will encounter resistance in their efforts to take over the world by a none too bright human (Taylor Kitch) who is the shiftless, stupid brother of a career Navy guy. The career Navy brother forces his brother to enlist in the Navy after the shiftless brother gets into trouble for breaking into a closed convenience store to steal a burrito for a girl who happens to be the daughter of the Navy Admiral who is in charge of everything (Liam Neeson). In the Navy, the shiftless brother suddenly finds himself a Lieutenant apparently as the result of losing a soccer match (don't ask), and also gets into big trouble for fighting with a Captain in the Japanese Navy. He is told that he will be kicked out of the Navy just as soon as the movie is over, but does manage to inexplicably get promoted to Lieutenant Commander later that day. Not satisfied with one promotion, our none too bright human has his ship blown up and gets picked up by a ship that just happens to have had their Captain killed, and finding that he is the ranking officer on board, becomes Captain None Too Bright. The Aliens blow up his brother's ship, killing the brother in the process, and also blow up the Japanese ship captained by the guy in the fight. The two become fast friends and together fight the aliens. Their ship gets blown up, and they find their way to the mothballed USS Missouri, and using it, once more go on the offensive, saving the day, earning Captain None Bright his very own command and the hand of Ditsy Thoris.
Sadly, Battleship just really has nothing new or interesting to present. The story is weak and unbelievable, the characters shallow and for the most part irrelevant to the story, and the effects just weren't anything special -- we have seen it all before. This movie did excel at being loud, and for loud junkies, this could be your Oscar nominee.
I do have to wonder at what Liam Neeson was thinking. He is a pretty good actor, and I would assume he's not desperate for money, so what is he doing in this movie?
If there was a bright spot, it was in the character of Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales. This character is a bitter, disheartened double amputee who finds that an alien invasion is just what is needed to remember that a man's worth is not measured by how many limbs he has but by his courage.
Gregory D. Gadson plays this role. Colonel Gadson is a West Point graduate and has been awarded three Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, a Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal. He lost his legs to a roadside bomb in Baghdad in 2007. Thank you Colonel, for your service to the country, and for having the courage to lead by example.
Should anyone go see this film? Only for the Colonel. Even then, you might want to wait for the DVD.