Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Kitsch, Hamish Linklater DIRECTED BY
Peter Berg SCREENPLAY
Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME
131 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
There are a few things you should realize before heading into Battleship, a Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock) helmed film alleged to be inspired by the 60's Hasbro game of the same name.
First off, and most importantly, Battleship is NOTHING like the 60's Hasbro game of the same name. There's no fun in the film, no camp in the film, no strategy in the film and practically nothing that would indicate any connection to the popular board game with the exception of the name itself.
Secondly, it is nearly impossible to watch the film without regarding it as an incredibly lazy and unimaginative variation of the similarly Hasbro-themed Transformers.
There you have it. A bad rip-off of a Transformers film.
That's not good.
Even worse, the recently reliable action star Liam Neeson is coasting here in what Michael Caine would likely refer to as a "paycheck film." There's no other reason to explain Neeson's uninspired and completely devoid of energy performance here in a sci-fi thriller pitting humans vs. aliens on the high seas with the entire globe at stake.
The story, insipid as it is, begins with Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, who already stunk up the place this year in Disney's John Carter) visiting his naval officer brother (Alexander Skarsgard) in Oahu. When he gets a bit too flirty with the beautiful Sam (Brooklyn Decker), who just happens to be the daughter of a navy admiral (Liam Neeson), Hopper ends up coerced by his brother to enlist just in time for the aforementioned aliens to arrive and start to go whupass on the planet. This sets the stage for what amounts to a game of, you guessed it, Battleship despite the fact that the familiar "You sunk my battleship!" line is never uttered.
Can you tell I'm irritated?
As much as I didn't expect much from this film, the simple truth is that I wanted Battleship to be a good time. Liam Neeson has had enough success in action flicks recently that I found myself ever so slightly hopeful that, just perhaps, Peter Berg and Neeson would weave together some magic and manage to maintain some faithful to the board game roots while obviously upping the action and special effects. Unfortunately, it becomes abundantly clear during the film's first 30 minutes of expository revelations that Berg and screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber (Red, Whiteout) have deferred to the Michael Bay school of filmmaking and forsaken any semblance of story or just plain entertainment in favor of what could best be referred to as rock 'em, sock 'em robots on boats.
Okay, that's an exaggeration. But, it made me laugh and that's more entertainment than I received than at any point during the 2+ hour running time of Battleship.
Battleship also features Rihanna in her feature film debut, but here she possesses none of the charisma or screen presence that has been present in some of her music video work such as "Love The Way You Lie." The truth is there's no sense of life anywhere to be found within Battleship, though I'll at least give Berg credit that somehow this CGI-laden film didn't end up as a 3-D picture.
I remember at one point not long ago joking that I'd love to see a film based upon the children's board game Candyland, the source of some of my earliest childhood memories and a game that brings to mind all kinds of warm and fuzzy memories. Rather ironically, Candyland actually has been commissioned as a film and there's little doubt that it has to end up being far more entertaining than this nearly worthless endeavor save for a few minutes in the beginning and a surprisingly satisfying ending that includes a scene that packs more emotional wallop than the rest of the film combined.
No one here gives a decent performance, though it's particularly traumatic to have seen Liam Neeson having given up on the entire affair so early in the production and Brooklyn Decker, who actually does have a decent screen presence, manage to find herself in two disappointing films opening on the same weekend.
There's really no need to waste any more time contemplating it. Hollywood, it has to be said, "You sunk my Battleship."