battleship2012

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Directed by: Peter Berg

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker

Once again the money making machine that is Hollywood has waved its CGI magic wand, resulting in a film that sparkles with explosive visuals but fails to tick the boxes labelled originality and realism. Based loosely on the classic Hasbro naval combat game, equipped with a capable cast and plentiful financial backing, Battleship had the potential to be a rip-roaring firecracker of a film. Instead, what director Peter Berg delivered to us on screen is a poor man’s Transformers; all shiny toys and no substance.

When scientists discover a distant planet with a climate much like our own, they build a giant transmission device and program it to make contact. The extra-terrestrial beings land on Earth with the intention of using the high-tech NASA equipment to signal an invasion and it’s left to a fleet of USS ships to do battle with the seemingly unyielding sea-bound armada.

This was a highly anticipated action blockbuster with sci-fi and gaming fans eager to see the latest ‘creatures from outer space’ film. The world was waiting on a unique cinematic experience with the battle for mankind taking place at sea, rather than on land or, in true spaceship fashion, in the air. Sadly the top notch visual effects aren’t enough to salvage the predictable wreckage that ultimately ensues.

The film gets off to a promising start but never expands past the basic alien invasion narrative. The sense of real threat you’d expect with this genre ceases to materialise after the initial action sequence and the clichéd dialogue slows any gathering pace that might have accumulated if given the chance. The hovercraft alien ships, hopping across the water like gargantuan metal frogs, fail to install any sense of menace or excitement and seem foolish in comparison to the structures featured in films such as Battle: Los Angeles or Cowboys and Aliens.

Character development is kept to the bare minimum, with the cast weirdly unable to provide natural emotional responses to situations. Surely you’d muster up more than a simple pouty sigh if you’d just watched a loved one die? This fault has to be put down to the direction rather than a lack of acting talent though.

New charmer on the block Taylor Kitsch is acceptable as the slacking anti-hero, delivering a few chuckle worthy lines and providing some eye-candy for the ladies. The best performances however are given by Tadanobu Asano as Captain Yugi Nagata and Jesse Plemons as Jimmy ‘Ordy’ Ord, whilst a tough acting Rihanna surprisingly isn’t completely terrible in her acting debut. The brilliant Liam Neeson seems to have been given a bit part, featuring briefly at the beginning and end, and even he seems flat and bored in his few moments of screen time.

The main problem with Battleship doesn’t lie with the froggy ships or even the over-used dialogue, but in the fact that the characters simply don’t seem to care why the aliens are invading, what they want once they’re on Earth or why they aren’t harming any humans. It’s very much a case of blow things up first, think about the reasoning later. This lack of intellect and depth is a permanent blunder and the reason why the film is below par rather than being the epic action film it quite easily could have been.

Regardless of its shallow storyline, Battleship is admittedly still a vaguely enjoyable film. It’s easy entertainment, light-headed and airy though it is, and there are a couple of short-lived moments that raise a genuine smile. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of alien ass-kicking action?

A good time-passer, but not something you should go out of your way to watch if you prefer substance over CGI.

★★★