DVD Review: Battleship

Out on DVD this week we have Battleship starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Neeson and, unfortunately, Rihanna.

The film starts reasonably enough with Kitsch playing Alex Hopper – a reckless and irresponsible youth whose wild ways consistently disappoint his brother Stone (True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård), a respected officer in the US Navy.

Shortly after giving his brother an ultimatum, Stone finds his brother committing a totally unneccessary burrito-related felony and offers him a life at sea as an alternative to prison. Finding that the US Navy life agrees with him, Alex resolves to turn his life around, both to please his brother and impress his girlfriend’s father (Liam Neeson).

At much the same time, scientists have been sending transmissions to a newly discovered planet in the hope that its inhabitants might be friendly. They’re not.

And quicker than you can say Independence Day, Battleship goes from being a mediocre movie, to downright incomprehensible drivel.

If they had stuck to a basic plot, with one or two offshoots, they might just have been on to something… but the whole thing is weighed down by totally unnecessary sub-plots. We have the unrealistic love story and the short-lived sibling conflict, but that’s just the tip of the narrative iceberg. We also get Japanese-American hostilities between Hopper and Nagata, a group of grizzled war veterans taking one last shot at glory, and a bizarre sub-story in which a double amputee teams up with a physical therapist to do battle with aliens in a forest…

At times it almost feels like director Peter Berg – whose previous credits include Hancock, The Kingdom, and Friday Night Lights – is out to satirize the genre, sending up the work of Michael Bay rather than aping it, but the film is played with such po-faced stoicism and flag-waving jingoism that this theory has to be rejected.

Instead, the sub-plots mount and mount so that come the finale, the film threatens to collapse under the weight of its many tangents, and it’s a testament to Berg’s skills as a director that he reins proceedings in for the final few scenes… though even he can’t make the sight of two ships firing at each other particularly interesting.

Those with a fetish for weapons and hardware will doubtless enjoy proceedings to some extent, but if plot logic and character development are what you’re after, you may want to give Battleship a miss.

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1 Comment

  1. Kadija

     /  September 7, 2012

    I thought that Battleship was loud, fun, and full of action. At least that’s what a blockbuster is in my book. Movies like this aren’t the kind where I go in thinking “you know this movie might have a deep plot”. I saw this movie for what it was and that’s the reason why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I got the movie last Friday in the mail through my Blockbuster @ Home and it saved me time by not having to look for it at the kiosks around town. A co-worker @ Dish suggested it a few months back and I’ve stuck with it ever since. I thought that the Burrito stunt was cute and showcased a very inventive, if crazy, way to get the girl of your dreams to give you the time of day. I love movies like this where the human spirit kicks the aliens’ butts and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Overall, I really liked the cast and the graphics were done well. This movie will definitely end up in my Blu-ray collection.

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