Sunday, June 3, 2012

Battleship delivers a sinking feeling

Hasbro's 2012 summer dud puts movie-goers into a ridiculous line of fire.


Arth Vader (AV): Battleship? Pontificator, any resemblance to this movie and the actual bored... I mean, board game–is purely coincidental. While this two-hour eye-sore made some vain effort to tell a story that included alien warships–that sat on the water and hopped around, even though they could fly 100 million light years to Earth–and the Destroyer USS Arleigh Burke match wits on the open sea oddly laid out in a grid (get it?). Lame, because that would mean the aliens flew millions of light years to 'hop around' on the pacific ocean and spar against a clearly inferior adversary. Stupid. 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): This movie was made from the Hasbro game, Battleship. I’ve played this game several times, both the original and electronic versions...and have never come across any aliens Vader. In terms of strict continuity, the game wasn’t followed. In their defense though, had they adhered strictly to the game, it would have been something less than what it was...and it was a tough sell to begin with.


AV: I'm downright embarrassed for Director Peter Berg. As a quality director who directed noteworthy films like Friday Night Lights and Collateral (a personal favorite of mine), this movie certainly knocked his credibility… pardon the phrasing… down a peg or two. The movie's pacing was choppy–and I'm being polite here–and showed audiences NOTHING new in genre or cinema graphically. As for the cast, well, it seemed to be more of a "who's not doing anything right now?" kind of cast composite. I am especially disappointed in Liam "Qui gon-Jinn" Neeson for his role as a random Admiral and tears for True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård who delivered quality performances in Generation Kill and Melancholia. I can't even comment on Rhianna's transparent role. ugh.

TP: I would have loved to see Liam Neeson play a larger role in this film, but of course, he was superb in the role he had. Taylor Kitsch isn’t going to win any awards for playing the angry and rebellious type... it’s just too easy to play and he wasn’t really convincing as such. He just seemed unreasonably brash to me...but maybe that’s what they were going for, at some point. I was never convinced of anything by Rihanna’s acting... except that this wasn’t the role for her... and maybe acting isn’t her thing. The directing was much better than the acting and this showed fairly early in the movie... although saying that doesn’t really mean much considering the final product. 


AV: If this movie had a redeeming quality, and trust me, I am still searching for one, it may well be the special effects (SFX). While not exactly blowing me away (sorry) the SFX were decent. Visually compelling, if not empty and dopey given the context. 

TP: It’s hard to mess up special effects these days and this movie did a good job of not doing so. There was only one scene for me where the CGI was evident, and I mean that in terms of it didn’t come off as real. The rest of the film was textbook special effects and superb for films like this with a particular scene going old school prop instead of CGI, which really worked well for that scene. I found the aliens to be very interesting in the similarities and differences they had with humans. Their scanning technology was reminiscent of the Predators while another weapon, rolling about and shredding everything, was reminiscent of Transformers.


AV: A deeper look? There's nothing here, folks. Vapid, empty, confusing and pointless, this movie offers the viewer nothing but two plus hours of fancy effects. Aliens that can't see? An Alien warship that can fly but chooses instead to jump on top of the water? The alien mother-ship can't communicate with its home world, so they try and commandeer a NASA radar array? 

How do you re-fit a decommissioned battleship that's been in dry-dock for 30 years? Where did the ammunition come from? Where did over 1,000 retired sailors come from to man the ship that saves the earth from the alien armada? I could keep going—but I think you get where I'm going here, Ponty. Though not a veteran myself, I have a deep understanding and appreciation for naval warships accomplishments, logistics and capabilities. This movie just ignored all of them. 

TP: There was something missing in this film Vader... and the more I look, the easier it is for me to tell what it was. There was action in it... some very creative sequences in fact. I was excited, at one point, at how they were able to make an obsolete battleship interesting and relevant.

There was a modicum of comedy, particularly early in the film with a sequence gag of one of the scientist saying they should contact different agencies...only to be told that he already was as the camera pulled back with a “do’h” feel to it. I guess I wasn’t feeling what they tried to pass off as drama. As dire as the situation was, I was never convinced that the emotions of the characters were vested in their predicament. The film didn’t draw my feelings out...and so I came away empty and wondering why there wasn’t a connection. From what the word about town is... not many people felt connected to this film.


AV: Please, God, no.

TP: They actually set up for the possibility (if you stayed past the credits)... but I really don’t see the point unless they’re going to explore the alien culture further... and I can see some difficulty in trying to make a whole movie about them while still trying to make it about the main character of this film. Perhaps a complete departure from the whole “battleship” idea... and just go with something different. Maybe “Connect Four”...?

AV: Ha ha! Connect Four might be a step in the right direction after this movie, Pontificator!

ARTH VADER Rates Battleship: I can sum up this film with the following observation: one of my boys and I went to a mid-week, evening showing of this movie.
In the theater, there was one other man sitting there in the room with us. He left approximately one hour into the movie. I was going to give this movie a zero-out-of-ten busted blocks. But then
I remembered that the special effects weren't horrible. So I'll load one (1) busted block into my main battery, fire–and then try to erase this dismal event from my memory.

THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Battleship:
I went to this movie with no expectations and came out of it entertained (thanks to the special effects), but feeling there could have been so much more to it (like a plausible plot). The missing ingredient (no connection whatsoever) sinks this film with five busted blocks.
Battleship: 3/10 Busted Blocks

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