Surprise, surprise, Battleship, a movie based on a board game turned out to be an empty, underwhelming mess. Director Peter Berg has had to suffer comparisons to Michael Bay and that other movie franchise based on a Hasbro board game, but in this case, it’s an accurate comparison. Berg-favorite Taylor Kitsch stars in another misplaced, big-budget Sci-Fi movie that plays less like its own experience and more like a slight variation of Bay’s own explosion-heavy formula.
Kitsch plays Alex Hopper, an unlikely hero who joins the Navy after hitting rock bottom. He’s urged to join by his brother Stone (seriously, his name is Stone Hopper), played by Alexander Skarsgard, but the affections of love interest Brooklyn Decker don’t hurt either. During a major, international naval war game, first contact is made with an alien species that proceeds to unleash destruction on the ships as well as the island of Oahu.
At times Battleship manages to be genuinely funny, especially during the opening, but it often veers into predictable waters (See what I did there?) and is at times, just plain dumb. Because a movie based on a board game is nothing without some product placement, the movie actually finds a way to emulate the game board during one supremely stupid scene. The alien’s munitions are in the exact shape of the pegs from the board game. When the battleship from the title manages to shoehorn its way into the plot, it’s given a near pornographic treatment, as Berg shoots it with wide-angle lens, composes lingering tracking shots that go down the length of the massive gun barrels. The way Bay lingers on his starlets in the Transformers series is an apt comparison to how Berg treats the ships in this.
Beyond that, there’s little more to discuss. The plot has holes you could navigate a destroyer through and the enemy comes across more as misunderstood than evil or frightening. The one advantage this movie has over other, equally hollow big-budget fair is that it manages to be slightly less exhausting, thanks to some solid editing and a pace that understands total sensory bombardment is only good for about 90 minutes.
But even with the weak praise and low expectations, Battleship struggles to hold audience attention and manages to be ultimately forgettable. For detractors of Avengers, who claimed it was predictable or exhausting, take note: Battleship makes it look like The Godfather by comparison.