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Battleship (A Movie Review)




Starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Hamish Linklater, Jesse Plemons, John Tui, Gregory D. Gadson, Adam Godley, Jerry Ferrara and Peter MacNicol.

Screenplay by Jon and Erich Hoeber.

Directed by Peter Berg.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  131 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

The Hasbro Toy Corporation got its baptism into the waters of film a few years ago when Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay adapted one of their old lines of action figures and created The Transformers film series.  It wasn’t a very good series of movies (the first one was okay) but they were huge hits and suddenly the toys were flying off the shelves again.

Of course, The Transformers – as ridiculous as they may have been – leant themselves to screen adaptation.  There had already been Saturday morning cartoon shows and with action figures the imagination is the only limit on story possibilities.

However, with the Transformers film series winding down (at least for now), Hasbro started looking into the vaults to see what other toys could be turned into a tentpole summer movie blockbuster.  The next salvo was also an action figure strike, and though the first GI Joe movie The Rise of the Cobra was a bit of a box office disaster, they are giving the series a reboot with the upcoming GI Joe: Retaliation.  The fact that the sequel’s release date has recently been pushed back from next month (June 2012) to March 2013 does not bode well for the series, though.

Therefore Hasbro went into the toy chest yet again and came out with this old favorite.  “Battleship” was actually a board game, not an action figure series like the two previous franchises.  However, it was a well-known and beloved game for decades, there must be some nostalgia for it, right?  Besides, it’s a war game – wars can make good action movies.

I’ve got to say, I’ve played the game thousand of times in my life, but it was nothing like this!

Okay, I get the fact that filming the game as is wouldn’t necessarily be the most cinematic blockbuster ever – two kids sitting face to face, one saying “E-5” and the other whining “You sunk my battleship.”

So, yeah, I get it, you have to stretch the source material some, just in order to make a movie.

But where the hell did the giant alien ships come from?

Are you telling me that you can’t come up with a suitably entertaining action story just on the power of fleets of giant warships?  Did they really need to bring an entirely new species along to spice up the storyline?

Now maybe I’m a little more protective of the Battleship name than I was with Transformers, simply because I used to play this game and always thought the Transformers were kind of ridiculous.

And, in fairness, Battleship is a better movie than any of the Transformer movies (with the possible exception of the first hour of the first one) and director Peter Berg is a much better filmmaker than Michael Bay is.  Still, Battleship was just over two hours of silly military jingoism and blood lust – lots of over-emoting and shooting, very little plot.

The ships themselves look super cool, though, so that’s something, I guess.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: May 16, 2012.

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