You know that saying “no one has lost any money selling stupid things to stupid people”? That’s Battleship the movie. An action blockbuster aimed at the largest possible global audience of airheads who need a simple 2 hour fix of explosions, CGI, rock music and macho posturing on the high seas. Directed by Peter Berg, the film is audacious, bodacious and atrocious in equal measure, it is, in other words, a sure fire summer money spinner. The fact that it managed to slip in quotes from Sun Tzu and Homer is a small miracle in light of the mind numbing script dished out by a cast which included, ‘jock of the month’ Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker and Alexander Skarsgard.
With it’s ridiculously simple plot, Alien transformers attack, the battleships defend, Director Berg goes all Top Gun on us with a $200 million advertising campaign for Hasbro. The opening sequences introduce us to our hero Hopper (Kitsch) in his juvenile irresponsible wayward best falling for the all American blonde Decker in a typical display of drunken macho stupidity. His antics pit him against his authoritarian disciplined older brother who enlists him “for his own good” in the navy. A better recruitment campaign for the American Right I have not seen. Here begins the transformation of Hopper from a zero to hero. Before long he is a lieutenant commanding his own ship. Not long after that he is commanding the de-commissioned USS Missouri, the 70 year old ww2 battleship, a floating museum no less, with its caretakers – a handful veterans. Together they fire up the old ship in what becomes the usual david v goliath battle against the alien attackers. To his credit, Berg makes fantastic use of the Naval vessels with plenty of combat and destruction. The CGI in this case is excellent, as is the onslaught of action sequences fuelled by a tremendously loud soundtrack. Battleship was designed for the biggest possible showing, a small cinema will not do it justice.
As for the characters, they’re all as cliched as expected. Kitsch’s Hopper, who gets the majority of screen time, works well as a physical action hero, and manages to elicit the most laughs. However it’s from his dead pan seriousness, not his comic sensibility. Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard add a slight gravitas in their diminished roles but it is the screen debut of Rihanna that was the biggest letdown, an ineffective performance in a token role.
Expect Battleship Two and Three and Four to sail very soon.
Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Rihanna