Battleship is a Smashing Good Time

When you heard that the Milton Bradley game Battleship was being made into a movie did you groan? I did, right up until I heard that Alexander Skarsgard was in it, then a flicker of interest was sparked. Add in Taylor Kitsch (as I block out John Carter from my memory) and I'm more than interested. But adding in Liam Neeson is like the badass cherry to top all cherries. Even with this incredible triumvirate at its heart its still Battleship, and although I was resolved to see it, I was expecting some mindless Michael Bay explosions and nothing more. I mean, the trailers all had a very Transformers vibe, and plenty of action, but Battleship actually has a little heart.

A group of scientists have discovered an Earth-esque planet in a distant galaxy that seems to be able to sustain human life forms. So of course they develop the technology to send out a signal to the planet, because any life they find is bound to be sweet and thankful to know that there is life besides themselves in the universe, right? Of course, that's the only logical reaction to alien communications. One of the scientists believes its likely to be more Christopher Columbus and the Indians, with us being the Indians, but there's no way he could be right. Right? Six years pass without a response.

We're introduced to brothers Alex (Kitsch) and Stone (Skarsgard) Hopper. The two brothers could not be more different. Alex is impulsive and quick to anger, and Stone is not. After Alex's chicken burrito mission to win Sam's (Brooklyn Decker) heart goes horribly and hilariously array, Stone tells his screw up brother that he has no choice but to become a Navy man like Stone. Alex gets the girl, gets a naval career, and then stuff starts hitting the fan.

During what was supposed to be a day of standard Naval maneuvers a small squadron of alien ships eventually land on Earth, exert their authority, and set up camp for a planetary takeover. Although this pisses 
the Navy off something fierce, their forces are split, and they're out gunned by some seriously superior technology. It's up to Kitsch to step up and out-strategize the invading alien race before they can signal for more ships to arrive and take over the planet.

If you've seen any of the trailers for Battleship thus far, the flick pretty much lives up to the fast action and absolutely ridiculous premise it promises to be. Despite its numerous flaws (and there were more than a few), it's not actual not a bad flick. Battleship is meant for a select audience interested in high octane thrills and although its not a life-changing cinematic experience, it boasts a hearty story alongside its action.

Is this Peter Berg's best work? No, his Friday Night Lights is pretty well loved. Is the acting bad? Well, I'm gonna say no, but its a mixed bag. Kitsch is a fantastic leading man, taking his character from screw up to leader, learning when to fight, and when to listen. He's has this smoldering charisma, that easily carries the action flick. Some of the dialogue is extremely cheesy, and well Rihanna is pretty awful, hers being some of the worse lines delivered in a ridiculous cocky way as she slips in sly smiles. Neeson is completely underutilized. Does no one understand, this man is unstoppable? He took on a pack of wolves in The Grey, he could tear apart a few aliens with his bare hands and eat their babies for breakfast while still adding class to the film. Skarsgard too barely has more than a cameo. On True Blood he's utterly enrapturing, but here his character is hardly given enough room to spread his wings, there's definitely no soaring here, and his character is a bit one dimensional, though not for lack of trying on Skarsgard's part. Jesse Plemons is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Battleship. He's funny, awkward, and has an infectious charisma that makes it hard to not be entertained whenever he's onscreen.

Another huge positive, the visual effects are pretty spectacular. The alien design was both interesting  and different. They didn't just do the same old alien, though they do make a few cracks about ET phoning home, instead they delivered a creature design that was a bit outside of the box. The space suits are a little HALO, but it the design makes sense within the story. The writing is intelligent, and dare I say, logical. There is plenty of irony as the battle rages around Oahu, with the Japanese and Americans teaming up against the Alien invaders. And there's even a large scale version of the game Battleship. As cheesy as that sounds, it really makes sense in how its incorporated, a stoke of genius.

In a summer movie season filled with highly anticipated blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even the recently released The AvengersBattleship is likely to get lost in the excitement, which is a shame, since it's actually a really good movie, something I never expected to say about it. 

So instead of seeing The Avengers for the millionth time, give Battleship a try, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.  

Battleship comes to theaters May 18, 2012.


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