'Battleship' Movie Review (2012)

Battleship movie review
Photo: Universal Pictures
EDITOR'S NOTE: After a four year hiatus, Laremy makes a return guest appearance on RopeofSilicon. Treat him kindly, after all, his first review back is Battleship.

Battleship, as you would probably guess, is a complete nightmare. Devoid of all logic, the film feels exactly like a mash-up composite of every alien invasion movie you've ever watched -- only that's too kind. A mash-up has its own art to it (see Girl Talk) whereas Battleship most clearly does not. This is what happens when "product" is made, with the goal of commerce coming far before dialogue, story, logic or any semblance of intelligence. This isn't the hero we wanted or needed, but it's the one they are throwing at us. Make sure you duck!

Grade: D

Battleship"Battleship" is a Universal Pictures release, directed by Peter Berg and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language. The running time is .

The cast includes Taylor Kitsch, Tom Arnold, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Hamish Linklater, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Josh Pence and Jesse Plemons.

Before the film even starts Hasbro has been credited twice, provoking insta-laughter from my screening audience. It's sort of a chest poking gesture that says, "Well, if you take this seriously that's YOUR problem, bub." If Battleship is to be a joke, why is everyone taking it so seriously on-screen? Can you be both ironic about "creation" and also hate your audience for affirming you? Battleship won't answer these questions, heck Battleship won't answer ANY questions, but it will play ACDC over the top of guided missile cruisers attempting to destroy aliens. Regardless, let's plunge on.

We're introduced to Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a 26-year old rebel with a heart of gold. His big bro (Alexander Skarsgard) wants him to shape up his life, but Alex (who's referred to only as "Hopper" even though his brother is also a "Hopper," and an elder, but is somehow not worthy of the single-name/last name nickname) goes through life with a wink and a smile.

At the outset of the film Alex is hitting mightily on Brooklyn Decker, who, truth be told, is lovely in every way possible. Her huge features and golden smile convey at once she's something to be pursued, even while remaining classically unattainable. These opening scenes are handled with -- and there's really no another way to say it -- a stylish beauty that's befitting of a Peter Berg film. The man has visual and pacing talent, which is why most of what comes next is so dispiriting. To consciously use one's talents for pure mediocrity is a little death, which just might make Battleship his cry for help. But I digress.

We find out Brooklyn is THE ADMIRAL'S DAUGHTER, and why wouldn't she be? Taylor gets himself in trouble, but it's for a girl, so it's OKAY, and then WHOOSH he's in the US NAVY as a Lieutenant. It's interesting that the film paints Kitsch as a ne'er-do-well, but one with a college degree, and one who was promoted past Lieutenant Junior Grade very quickly. To make Kitsch a leader, as he must be for the film to work, he's got to be in a leadership position, even though the first 15 minutes of the film take great pains to show he's an idiot. Question is, will his idiocy "pay off" so he can save the world? Well -- have you ever seen a movie?

RIMPAC is set to begin; it's a gathering of 14 Navies from around the world in the largest war games exercise on the planet. "Cool," I can hear you thinking, "we'll get to see 14 Navies team up!" Uh, no you won't. Battleship has problems with the scale of the story already, the whole Aliens vs. the World angle, so they pretty much contain the action to three ships TOTAL. Because how are you going to find time to weave India's Navy into the story when you're busy showing Alex is totally unprepared to lead??!! C'mon guys, let's keep it focused on the things people truly desire, such as cliched and hackneyed hero mythologies.

Alex gets in a fight right before RIMPAC, and he's scheduled to be in big trouble once the weekend is over. Hopefully an opportunity will come up that allows him to redeem himself. Do you think it will?

It's at this point I should take a brief break to acknowledge that Battleship does have many slick moments. Comedy is pervasive, and the techniques used generally work over the opening half of the film. As a comedy, Battleship is fair to middling'. As a tragedy, it's absolute perfection, though more as a metaphor to the state of the industry. As a dramatic actioner, which Battleship so desperately wants to be, it's a complete and utter failure. But still, yes, it has a gloss and sheen that great-grandpa Top Gun would delight in. You will get your shots of The American Flag waving beautifully over awesome music with Rihanna in the background delivering quips. There's a "25 Lighters" cover by ZZ Top that is absolutely perfect for the scene, and it's a prime example of when crowd-sourcing a production makes sense, a solid marriage between hip-hop and rock-funk, setting the mood with verve. So that's something, I suppose.

Speaking of marriage, Decker has coupling on her mind, and she needs Taylor to talk to Poppa Admiral, played by Liam Neeson. There are scenes of Neeson's where you can actually see the check waiting for him juuuuust off-screen, all hail Battleship for using such a talented actor in such pitifully written material. Stop me if you've heard this one, Admiral Neeson isn't so hot on his daughter Brooklyn marrying a stubborn idiot who is "wasting his skills!" Again, if only there was SOME WAY for Kitsch to prove his mettle.

For a moment, we should discuss the aliens, whom you will most likely cheer for against the Earthlings. They're great. They've got these little death wheels that cut up anything in their path, they look like a much bigger version of Ghost Rider's scooter. The aliens have far superior weaponry overall, and for at least the first half hour of "battle" it seems like they might moon walk into the end zone, spiking the ball on our head, and doing that dance where their knees and hands alternate positions. My notes feature a line that reads: "They would win SO HARD." Which is true, and I have no idea why alien invasion films must always go the "David vs. Goliath" route. Why not just make it seem somewhat even? Luckily, these aliens have a fatal flaw, as laid down by the "Gospel According to Signs," which I wouldn't dare spoil for you. The journey is the destination.

Early in the film, Kitsch is kicked in the face during a soccer game by an opponent. Thankfully, due to "movie magic" everyone grows up and the gents come to know and respect each other. Battleship is clearly hoping for a similar result here, but I can't see most of us making it through that initial bloody nose. Even if the first 100 minutes are tolerable, it's near the end that things get completely out of hand. Bonk-bonk, even.

The way in which the final battle is set up is so unbelievably cheesy that one wonders if someone lost a bet to include it in the third act. It drunkenly screams "AMERICA!!" at you, teetering on the edge of consciousness, before finally slipping into (and on) a pool of its own spittle. The inference seems to be that ANY action with explosions, slow-mo, and a hard soundtrack should be enough to captivate you, even as your intellect looks for any logical foothold to contextualize the maelstrom. Brother, you can look all you like, but it's not there.


More Movie Reviews

'Straight Outta Compton' (2015) Movie ReviewB-

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

'Mistress America' (2015) Movie ReviewB+

Mistress America (2015)

'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' (2015) Movie ReviewB

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

'Cop Car' (2015) Movie ReviewB-

Cop Car (2015)

More Reviews
  • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

    Good review mate - amazed you went and saw it in the end! Enjoy the post-credits scene at least? haha

  • Winchester

    Hilarious stuff - the review is just what the flick warrants.

  • Amy

    I had/have no intention of seeing this movie, but your review is so entertaining and elegantly written that I was compelled to read it to the end. Hope it's not another four years until you write more!

  • Danny

    I have a passing curiosity about this movie. 10 years ago I would have been all about this movie... but as it stands right now, I could care less if I see it or not. I can't understand why they had to turn it into an Alien invasion movie... when it had all the makings of being a well told Naval battle and strategic thriller. It's kind of ashame really, as I like Peter Berg as a director. And being a fan of the TV show Friday Night Lights, I am a fan of Taylor Kitsch, I honestly think he has what it takes to be a movie star... I think it's great that both Disney and Universal took a chance on casting him as the lead in two big budget films, it's just too bad that as good as John Carter was (at least I thought it was a good flick anyway), it failed to find an audience (I blame the marketing still) and Battleship, I think may have a decent opening weekend, but I don't think it will stick around long... here is hoping that Oliver Stone's Savages will be the movie that gets Kitsch the big screen recognition he deserves...

  • Page

    Welcome back Sir. A titan of a review.

  • Red Zorro

    Extremely well written review, entertaining read. "To consciously use one's talents for pure mediocrity is a little death..." What a great line! Hopefully we'll see more reviews from you.

  • http://cineenuruguay.blogspot.com Driver

    That was some great reviewing Leremy, welcome back.
    I feel exactly the same about the movie, I felt it didn't work on any level, I mean, after that soccer match in the first 20 minutes, I was ready to give up and when the action kicked i was giving it another chance, but just meh.
    It was a disaster in my opinion, not Warth of the titans big, but pretty big. Any of the Transformers movies are more fun, yes, including the second one, and especially the third one, that´s the definition of mindless fun.


    Was Rihanna any good?

  • Xavier

    Wow... sounds like a review of STAR TREK (2009). Amazing!!! o_O

  • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

    The only problem now is that the review is so entertaining I kind of want to see the film just so I can put the two together.

  • chuck

    Just got back- stunningly bad with no sense of fun at all.
    Explosion after explosion and nothing more. Brooklyn Decker is extremly good looking- cant deny that. Anyone who says Independence Day isnt a great summer movie your punishment will be to see Battleship twice!

  • Doc Holiday

    Very entertaining review, but there was no way I was going to see this thing anyway. I will watch films based off of toys I grew up playing with but movies based on board games? Thats where I draw the line lol

  • Mr Stark

    Personally I am excited for Chutes And Ladders The Movie. That's gonna be a blockbuster.
    From the director of Very Bad Things, comes another Very Bad Thing.

  • e.j

    The movie Battleship was disappointing. It was not as good as Indepndence Day with Will Smith, Vivica Fox, and Jeff Goldblum. The first problem is there was no need for a leading lady. There is a stereotypical social belief that a white woman with blonde hair and blue eyes can only be the leading lady. Honestly, the movie didn't need it because it only promoted the typical view of a certain look that ALL MEN suppose to have in order to have a happy relationship? Really! Why aren't there more dark completed women in the movie? If we are so liberated and white women loving dating black men vice versa; then society should promote this because it took our dark women too to get the black men with these white, hispanic, or whatever race. Its about respect and diversity. This movie was discriminatory against minority and women.
    Secondly, there was only Rhianna in the ship among men. Really, is it that hard for the military especially the Navy to incorporate strong women of all ethnicities in the movie. Women are natural born fighters and they were totally underplayed in this money. I commend Rhianna's character because she was the sole person who represented women. Wow!
    Finally, the challenge of defeating the aliens was not that strong. Aliens can't bear sunlight and overlooking humans. Are you serious? It was too easy to defeat them if they are so advance.
    The only great thing about the movie was the honoring of the men and the ship of the U.S. Missouri. I wanted to applause them for their realness and dedication to our country. The younger men need to learn from these men because they know what dedication, chilvary, and bravery is like. It is such a dying breed of men in this world.

  • Randy Mussi

    AcDc sucks for movies, that is one point. I do hate how they tried to use Rihanna as a marketing ploy. She is a singer she should not act at all. The effects were normal the way effects should be and yes i agree that Liam Neeson should NOT have been in this movie. He looked bored he looked as if he read from script while filming. It feel very bad for Taylor Kitsch because he has had to go through two big budget movies that have flopped. He is a great actor and should choose wisely next time for his movies, maybe not as a leading actor but an aside. This movie was boring and normal for a summer dumb dumb flick. It had nothing to relate itself to the board game brought to you by Hasbro, this company never even ONCE showed that the another side was aliens from a different race. Speaking of the aliens, they WOULD HAVE DESTROYED the humans in this battle. They focused so much on Alex Hooper being a Captain and taking command, that they forgot what they made of the alien race would literally obliviate the navy in a heart beat. also *SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS: using the old men that were part of the navy to command the oldest ship and defeat the aliens is the dumbest ending to a battle i have ever seen. I hope nobody pays attention to this flick, it is a pathetic money grabbing joke of a "summer" movie.

  • chris

    This was an awesome movie..I enjoyed with my friends.. I hate too say this, the reviewer is a dumb ass..I don't think he knows to review a movie..do you think it's easy to direct a movie like this.it's easy to review a movie over night but you must understand how much hard work and efforts are put in this movie..I m rally ashamed of the reviewer..plz dare to publish my comments...