Hey gang, Valkor here. And welcome to another edition of MediaView. Folks, if you're new to TOV and had the chance to explore this section, you'll notice I like to watch cheesy films and the cheesier the better. Why? Because you never know what's buried beneath its cheesy layers; it may be really bad film or it just might be the worse piece of cheese ever. Take for example "Warlock" starring Julian Sands. On the outset, it's by far the cheesiest with low level special effects and corny acting, but in the end it's actually quite entertaining. And then we have recent summer fare "Battleship", directed by Peter Berg, starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, and Rhianna; it's a film based around a board game with bajillions of dollars dumped into it with crazy special effects. No one will argue the look of the film because it does look very good – as well as it should with the folks at ILM backing it up. But in the end… well read on.
The original game of Battleship started out as a paper game, which moved on to a popular board game. For this review we'll stick with the board game, though I have played the paper version. With the board game there's two fields separated by a wall. You start the game by positioning your ships around the field and the object of the game is to guess the position of the player's ships. If you guess correctly you get a "hit" and the player has to place a red tab. Guess incorrectly and it's a "miss", which would be reflected by a blue tab. If you sink all of the other player's ships, you win the game!
Now the movie makes an attempt at staying true to the game, while also adding its own spin to the mix. Battleship follows slacker turned sea farer Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), who's out on the pacific near Hawaii in the middle of war games. Things get interesting when the crew witness an odd ship further from their position. So He and a handful of his mates go investigate and upon closer inspection, he accidently activates a force-field that traps them, their destroyer and two others along with this new alien threat.
Wait, I'm jumping ahead, let's take things back to the beginning. The folks at NASA have just discovered a planet that's similar to earth. So they send out a signal in hopes of communicating with the inhabitants. Well they heard us loud and clear and have responded by sending five vessels our way.
Which brings us back to Hopper. The field he accidently set off has shut down their radios, sonars, radars, all sorts of equipment. Not only that but the aliens are now in attack mode and they take out two of the destroyers with ease, leaving only Hopper's ship to stand alone.
Switching things to land, it's discovered that the aliens have lost their communications ship – a ship they lost when they first arrived on earth. Now they're looking for a new means to communicate with their homeworld and they've found just the source: the satellite that NASA used to communicate with them in the first place. So to summarize, aliens have arrived on earth, they've got a destroyer trapped within their field, and they're about to contact their buddies to get more ships to earth to do who knows what. Shits about to go down!
Other highlights that need to be pointed out:
- 1) The Grid that's familiar in the game makes an appearance but only used once.
- 2) The film makes fun of a popular viral video right down to the final moments.
- 3) One of the actors, Gregory D Gadson, is a vet who lost his legs in Baghdad. Respect.
- 4) Liam Neeson gets top billing, but his role in the film is very, very minor.
- 5) The alien's weakness is actually WORSE than the aliens in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sign".
- 6) They never use the term "You sank my battleship" but other terms from the game (hit, miss) get some shine when the grid comes into play.
So video games have done it, comic books have made the jump, and even Topps Cards (Garbage Pail Kids) have been given their theatrical moments, but can a film based on a board game actually work? I'll give you my thoughts in the TOV Breakdown.
I went into Battleship with the lowest of expectations – clearly this was doomed to fail upon conception. But in the end, if you take it for what it actually is, then you'll find a pretty decent actioner… if you don't mind sitting through 30 minutes of filler before it happens. The battle scenes, when they kick in, are pretty amazing, topped off with gorgeous digital effects. I love the look of the aliens – especially the suits, which are reminiscent to the suits in Halo. The overall action is hard hitting with tons of explosions to hold your interest. The point of Battleship is the grid and while an entire movie based around that concept probably wouldn't have worked, it does succeed when it happens and how they get to that point makes some sense. And let's talk about the aliens, who are pretty bad ass! They're sensors can detect if you're a threat or not and if you're not a threat, they ignore you. And if you are a threat, prepare to get stomped! But that's about all I can give this film. After that, we turn to…
I've never, in my movie lovin life, wanted shit to go down faster than I did with this film. And that's that's Battleship's biggest flaw – someone thought we'd care about the plot or character development. Hello!! It's a film based around a board game! No one was expecting Oscar caliber stuff here. We just wanted something fun and entertaining. Why should anyone care about Alex's back story? Why does he even need to be the sole focus? And I mentioned how the first 30 minutes is just filler? It could have easily been cut, probably amping up the fun. And why stop there since there's a lot more that could have/should have been cut to shorten this 2 hour trek. Finally, another negative is the dialogue, which is a mix bag of stiff to flat out corny. Some of it will make you chuckle, other lines will make you wince. But in the end, it's just bad.
The Ugly: N/A
I went in wanting to Hate Battleship, and in the end I still hated it… but not as much as I thought I would. It's not the worse film I've ever sat through and the film does have some shining moments of joy. At best, it's passable and you may wanna check it out if there's not much else going on. So out of TOV 5 stars, I give the film a 2, which I feel is being quite generous.