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Battleship

My dear readers… why do you hate me?

If you are wondering why am asking this, on my Facebook page, I held a vote for what movie to review this month. The winner, much to my horror and shock, was the incoming turd, Battleship. Yes, the movie very loosely based off the half-century old board game, yet revolves around a bunch of CGI aliens rejected from the last Transformers movie. Just based of the trailers, it had a clear shot at being one of the worst movies of the year, and it shares a summer with Kristen Stewart excreting all over Snow White, so that is no small thing.
Battleship_Movie_PosterThe fact that Universal wouldn’t screen it before critics says all that needs to be said about this film, yet if some truly scathing reviews from overseas are any sign, it is worse than any of us could have imagined. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, it was what the folks voting on my page voted for me to review. Every fiber of my being told me not to go see it, and were it not my loyalty to you, my dear reader, to say nothing of a healthy respect for the democratic process, I would have listened to that urge. Instead, I swallowed my pride, ignored common sense, put on a stiff upper lip, and bravely marched into the movie theater.

So is it dumb summer fun or the biggest naval disaster since Pearl Harbor? To the battle stations everyone, as I put Battleship in my critical cross-hairs.

You know you’re in trouble when the trailer tell a better story than the movie, which opens to the sight of our protagonist Alex Hopper, a cocky deadbeat who robs a convenience store to impress a chick he sees in a bar one night. Rather than go to jail for breaking and entering or grand larceny, we fast forward five years to see him as an officer in the Navy, and dating that girl from the bar, who it seems is the daughter of the commander of the US Pacific Fleet. Hopper is still a raging prick though, as he gets into a fight with an officer of the Japanese Navy, which seems to be the only other member of the International War Games, and is promised to be discharged as soon as the fleet returns to port. Before that though, it seems NASA sent a signal to an alien planet a few years back that in return sent an invasion fleet, made up of rejected CGI clips from Transformers 3. Along the way the film takes time out of its busy schedule to insult the life experiences of World War II and Afghanistan/Iraq veterans and, via a spectacularly tasteless bit of copied news footage, the victims of the London riots.

So yeah, if the trailers weren’t your first sign, rather than have the movie revolve around naval combat like the board game, and might have actually made a decent film, they chose to have it be Transformers 4, and yet achieves a level of stupidity in terms of plot and script that makes Transformers (any of them) look like Inception, Independence Day look like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Pearl Harbor look like Saving Private Ryan. Between the paper-thin premise and some of the stupidest script work and dialog I’ve seen in a long time, if ever, it had no chance of being taken seriously or providing suspense, yet never achieves any sort of camp or irony that might make it fun. Hell, there isn’t even a battleship in the movie until the last twenty minutes, with much of the film following three destroyers fight four alien craft, and two of them don’t make it five minutes after first encounter.

There are exactly two scenes in the movie that show signs of life or enjoyability, one where a group of World War II veterans lead the USS Missouri into battle, the other where an Army vet who lost both legs kicks the crap out of one of the aliens, both are in the climax, and both are only of note when compared to the rest of that proves to be a surprisingly dull movie. When a movie where and hour and a half of it is of stuff getting blown up, you know you’re in trouble when the first world I think of is boring. With a run time of over two hours, ten minutes, there is not enough premise or plot to last half of that, resulting in a movie that is more boring than it is fun or even infuriating.

This leads us to where they decided to pad it with, the actors and characters, which further hurts the film, especially since none are likable, sympathetic, or anything more than a thinly disguised cliché. First off, for those thinking Liam Neeson or Alexander Skarsgard to provide a performance that elevates the film, as either the fleet admiral or stern older brother respectively, you’re going to be disappointed, as Neeson is in the film for about ten minutes total and Skarsgard gets killed off one-third of the way through the film, leaving much of the film’s, ahem, acting, to be done by hacks and amateurs.

Taylor Kitsch, as Alex Hopper, between this and John Carter, has ensured he will never get top billing in a film again given what we see here. He isn’t helped by the fact his character is an unlikeable prick that needs to be taken down a notch, and his incompetence and hotheadedness gets dozens of people killed. Rihanna, here in her film debut as the spunky minority petty officer cliché usually handed to Michelle Rodriguez, gives a performance much like her music, tolerable so long as you tune it out, which given the shocking number of screen time she gets, is impossible. Brooklyn Decker, as the love interest/eye candy, famous for her bikini body the main selling point of a Jennifer Anniston movie last year, shows just as much skin here, and even less acting ability. The rest for the cast is a list of clichés and stereotypes a mile long, ranging from the neurotic Jewish scientist to the stoic Japanese guy speaking in Engrish, and while none reach Transformers levels of offensiveness, they all but surpass it in levels of annoyance. The result is an unlikeable and unreliable cast of cliché caricature characters that all but deserve whatever plans of extermination the aliens have in mind for us.

So given that we have a film so stupid it makes Michael Bay look like Orson Welles, and acting so bad it (almost) makes Shia LeBouef look like Sir Lawrence Oliver, is it any surprise that the special effects or cinematography aren’t really anything special either? Say what you will about Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich as filmmakers, the one thing about their movies you can almost always depend on to be good are the special effects, which might give even their worst films a few scenes worth watching for. Here however, there is nothing impressive or awe worthy about the special effects, with most of it looking clearly fake or has been done far better before.

Take the aliens for example – a bunch of albino humanoids in Iron Man suits that pilot giant ships only capable of making medium length hops over water, and have exactly three weapons at their disposal, sonic canons, spinning chainsaw balls, and missiles based off the pegs from the board game – why they kept that when they tossed out almost everything else about the source material, I do not know. None of it was designed very well, ranges from hokey to needless, and you get bored very fast watching them on-screen. Hell, I swear they reused shots for some of the scenes. Even the shots they didn’t reuse provide a sense of déjà vu as most are copied shot by shot of other movies – one example is the bit where a crashed alien vessel wrecking Hong Kong looks just like the opening scene of the meteors wrecking New York City in Armageddon. As a whole, the movie provides a mostly cartoonish repertoire of CGI barf that is either laughably bad or done far better elsewhere.

Like a lot of people, I was wondered just what Hollywood was smoking when they green lit a movie based on a children’s board game, and wondered just how dumb the movie would be, yet even I was floored by just what new levels of stupidity in cinema the film achieves. The premise is insultingly stupid, the dialogue more so, and I’m torn over what is more cartoonish, the cliché character stereotypes or the godawful CGI. It even has a laughable post credit scene trying to set up for a sequel, the possibility of which should have every one of you in a cold sweat. Overall, I think the most painful thing about watching the movie was how boring it was, as there is literally nothing to engage you or keep you interested in the film. There were people walking out an hour in just because of that! It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but that’s not for lack of trying.

As many critics have pointed out, Battleship is what happens to cinema when the works of Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich make billions at that box office with their CGI laden soulless ‘popcorn’ movies: movie producers now feel we, the moviegoers, are brainless morons, and movies like this are what we want to see. The entire thing reeks of having been designed in a boardroom so much you can almost see the internal studio memos scrolling across the screen; From the casting (“Rihanna will help secure the coveted 13-22 M/F demo”) to the alien war machines (“Transformers: DotM $1.6bn gross suggests robot mod for all current properties”) to the soundtrack (“Music should be of heavier ‘rock’ variant, though familiar enough to be non-threatening: suggest STP and AC/DC”), there’s not a second of this movie that hasn’t been tweaked to squeeze the maximum number of dollars out of people who are not yet sick of Bay-Emmerich school of film-making. If this turns a significant profit, it will likely be the first of many more of such films to come, garbage for the trough of the moviegoer.

Which is why I am asking, no, begging all of you to not prove them right. Don’t go see this turd. Go see The Avengers, or go see it again if you have already. Hell, I’d rather you go see The Dictator than feed into this utterly insipid and idiotic piece of crap. For the love of good cinema, and the future of moviegoers everywhere, we must sink this Battleship.

43 thoughts on “Battleship”

  1. The Illusive One says:

    Well, the good news is as of right now The Avengers still has it beat. The bad news is that world wide it has already recouped its budget and even made a profit. Hopefully, this will not last.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Given that for all the money they blew on marketing, it only made $25 million on its opening weekend, its going to flop in ways even John Carter can laugh at.

    2. usertron2020 says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Jonathan Dalar says:

    Well put, and I haven’t even seen it yet. Don’t plan to, as I know to avoid like the plague any movie that whips out the deus ex machina halfway through and fakes it with mad explosions and CGI just to make the mandatory time limit. Bleh!

    Even a “glowing review” of this movie made me want to see it less than I did before.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Glad you liked it, I wouldn’t have given this movie the time of day had it not won the vote.

      I am curious though – where did you see a glowing review for it?

  3. milesfromhome says:

    I would have thought you guys would have passed by this one ages ago – I saw this about a month ago. It was pretty awful all right, it isn’t often when you come out of an alien invasion film thinking that actually, “Skyline” wasn’t too bad in comparison. I’ve seen Movies on SyFy channel that were better than this, apart from maybe the special FX.

    At least if the aliens did invade, you’d know how to handle them anyway – shine a torch in their eyes to blind them and then aim your guns by eyesight rather than by radar 😛

    1. Korsgaard says:

      It came out overseas a month ago, we in the states just got it.

      I do agree though, I’ve seen better movies made for daytime tevevision. Just try not to think of all the starving children that could have been fed with this movies $200 million dollar budget.

  4. Loyal says:

    *slow clap*
    Thank you. I’ll still torrent the movie after it comes out on DVD, and I won’t feel bad about it one bit.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      As long as not one dime goes to this film, I wish you the best. I’d say its not even worth your bandwidth.

    2. otiswild says:

      I’ll torrent it when the Rifftrax comes out.

    3. Korsgaard says:

      I will admit, the folks at Rifftrax should have a field day with this one.

  5. Chii says:

    Haha it sounded ok from previews with military and all…but seriously WTF!? GUY RBS A STORE AND THEN GETS OFFICER?! I have lost all hope for movies…I really have

    1. Korsgaard says:

      You know what’s really sad? The Department of Defense wouldn’t pay to have the military in The Avengers because they felt the movie was too unrealistic, but they paid for the Navy to appear in Battleship. Because a felon getting to be the third highest ranking member of a ship in five years and leading a destroyer against an alien armada is so much more realistic than superheroes.

      *facepalm*

      Also, I fear for cinema’s future as well if movies like this turd are the new standard.

    2. Raven says:

      We do not see Hopper getting convicted of a felony… probably because the store security video shows him putting money on the store counter to pay for the chicken burrito, thus his motive was not theft but purchase.

    3. Raven says:

      Also, this would not be the first time a judge took it easy on a defendant to leave him a clean record because he was enlisting in one of the Armed Forces.

    4. Raven says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Raven says:

      From the moment my wife and I saw the word “Hasbro” at the start of the film, we had fair warning that it was (like the “G.I. Joe” and “Transformer” films) a toy-sponsored and toy-inspired project intended to help sell more toys and help children visualize what those toys were doing. We were not expecting Shakspeare or Tolstoy, and so we were not disappointed.
      _____________________________________

      Incidentally, that store break-in was a character note. Most other men would have given up when the doors were shut in their faces. Hooper went in through the roof.

      His fleetmates got sunk sailing and shooting straight at the aliens. Hooper diverted his cannon to starboard, making his ship seem “safe” to the alien computers. Then he steered sharp aport, bringing his cannon to bear on the alien, and fired. Oopsie, alien computers! They fired back, leading his ship to hit where they expected he’d be at his velocity. He dropped anchor to stop suddenly, cheating their expectations again, and fired again, destroying them.

      That was the store-breaker in character, doing whatever it took to get what he wanted, however unexpected or beyond the “rules”.

    6. Korsgaard says:

      I really doubt leaving money would make up for the fact he commited breaking and entering, petty larceny, and what looks like a few grand worth of property damage.

      Take it from me as a military veteran, the amount of leesh given to members of the military, especially prospective ones, is vastly overrated. Odds are good his recruiters would dump him the instant they heard about this anyway.

  6. Barbara says:

    Hmmm. I haven’t seen it yet (as I won’t pay the movie theatre prices – I wait for DVD) … but now I’m having 2nd thoughts as nearly everyone I’ve read says the movie stunk.

    That’s sad considering how much I like Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgaard. I wonder why they would do this move if the script was that bad?

    Thank you for suffering to give us this review!

    1. Anonymous says:

      I think they got paid lots of money. At least, I hope they got a decent price for their pride.

    2. Korsgaard says:

      Barabra, I have to agree with the nameless commenter, I presume because the two of them both got paid handsomely and have a combined screentime of about thirty minutes.

      As for my willingness to submit myself to reviewing this, nothing is too good for my fans and readers.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Taylor *Kitsch*? Seriously?

    The fact that his agent hasn’t made him change his name (or worse, that this is a changed name) and he still got hired for not one but *two* movies, well, that screams either ignorance or idiocy or both in disturbingly alarming ways.

    As for the brave Korsgaard, he who risks going blind from watching bad films on our behalf – Sir, I Salute You.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Yeah, the name is a bit questionable, but after this and John Carter, I doubt we will see his name on a marquee anytime soon. Of course, given the quality of his two main films, perhaps his name was just a self-fulfilling prophesy.

      Let none forget that I do anything for my readers, no matter how painful. That said, thanks for the salute.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So, uh … I get the impression that you didn’t like it …

    1. Korsgaard says:

      That is the impression I hope came across, yes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    While I don’t doubt the fact that this movie sucks donk, it’s hard to take a reviewer/writer/blogger seriously who doesn’t use proper grammar.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      I will be the first to confess my dire need for a proofreader/editor. Until I find one (at least one willing to work pro bono) I rely on spell check and people pointing out mistakes. For that, I am sorry.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have no plans this weekend. Where do we show up with the torches and pitchforks to give this movie a proper show trial and horrendous death?

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Wherever you can find a theater showing it, that’s where.

  11. Endymion says:

    You need a proofreader, seriously. What a mess!

    1. Anonymous says:

      After what this movie apparently did to his brain, I’m suprised he came out as cogent as he has.

    2. Korsgaard says:

      As mentioned above, I will be the first to say I need a proofreader, though I admit, the idea that Battleship addled my mind is a good defense as well.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “Hell, I’d rather you go see The Dictator THAN feed into this utterly insipid and idiotic piece of crap.”

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Fixed, thank you for pointing that out.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I saw it. It was…um, noisy. But director Peter Berg isn’t generally a stupid filmmaker, so when convenience store scene happened (a virtual re-enactment of a YouTube meme) I just took the whole thing as a very dry Michael Bay parody.

    It’s pretty much the only way to get pout of the theater with you senses intact.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Ah, the MST3000 defense. It’s the only way I made it through four Twilight movies. I don’t know why I didn’t try that with Battleship actually.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m not surprised that Paramount didn’t screen it for critics, given that it’s a Universal release.

    🙂

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Fixed, thank you 🙂

  15. usertron2020 says:

    I think you were too hard on the film. Rottentomatoes.com gave it only 39% fresh at last check, but most of the reviews were filled with little qualifiers that made me think maybe some critics were looking to do some minor recanting should the film make some serious $$$.

    Yes, it was desperately in need of re-writes, and some people we could have seen more of and others far less. However, ridiculing the Japanese accent of an actual Japanese actor doesn’t make much sense, as he certainly isn’t going to be using the King’s English, after all. And of all the actors with real lengthy roles, Tadanobu Asano gave the best performance by far.

    How in God’s name could anyone think it was a good idea for a “Chick Flick” angle in a movie like this? Would a re-make of “Sink the Bismarck” have done this?

    Your criticisms of the special effects I don’t feel apply for this film, or for a general audience. Maybe it’s me, as I have never and will never go see a “Transformers” movie and have nothing to compare it to.

    BTW? The talk about how much less $$$ the movie was making than expect? Well, “The Avengers”, an absolutely spectacular film, is still fresh out there, and “Dark Shadows” premiered the same weekend. There’s a lot of American veterans being dragged by their wives to see Dark Shadows first. Also a spectacular film. Truth is, the weekend of May 19th-20th will probably be remembered as one of the most “jammed” this year in terms of available choices.

    No wonder “Battleship” ran a third place in the same target audiences.

    Still, I think there is one thing upon which I agree with you completely: “Battleship 2” is a horrendous idea. Right up there with “Pearl Harbor 2”! This is NOT a story that leads itself to sequals.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      I think it’s currently it’s in the lower mid-30s on Rotten Tomatoes, but it would have been a lot lower had a few suprisingly positive reviews from Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly been less so.

      Honestly, given its dismal performance, I think the reviews would have been MORE negative in hindsight.

      Tadanobu Asano is a brilliant actor, loved him in Icchi the Killer, but given he speaks plain English in some of his films, I’m giving the blame of Engrish here to the script – note the number of times the film tried to play his accent for laughs. Shameful.

      The romance angle was another poor move – not only was it needless, but it was done halfassed.

      As for the special effects, I tend to go by an old adage – if you realize you’re watching a special effect, its a bad special effect. Its the reason I rag on a lot of films with way too much CGI.

      While a packed box office is one explanation, a cyncial reception is another. Some people actually walked out halfway through the movie when I went – walk outs almost never happen.

      Luckily, given it’s dismal performance, we’re not likely to see Battleship 2, and hopefully, they might cancel plans for Candyland and Jenga too.

  16. Field Failure Relay says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the excellent contribution to the discussion.

    1. Korsgaard says:

      Thank you for adding to it!

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