Review: Battleship (2012)

Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker

Just when I thought I’d seen it all, along comes Battleship to prove me oh so wrong. It’s no secret that Hasbro’s recently cashed in on venturing into the cinematic medium to exploit their beloved lines of toys, and resting safely among the elite is that of Sir Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy, – a series that started out with much promise given the robots’ favorable background – however, who in their right mind would’ve thought board game adaptations would be Hollywood’s next step? For as loose as the film handles its infinitely more entertaining origins, Battleship simply reeks of everything Bay in the worst possible sense, and I’m more than happy to explain why, at least to the best of my ability before I get fed up.

Remaining startlingly similar in both style and substance to the bombastic, shallow-minded anti-auteur, director Peter Berg wholly embraces the ineffectual, moreover juvenile wit and headache-inducing sound design that coincide less than remarkably with some agreeably impressive visuals. For all the bells and whistles Battleship sports, it’s a shame that amid all the negligible bits of characterization and requisite (convoluted) alien invasion logistics there’s entirely too much build-up and virtually no payoff. Granted, the art department did a fine enough job in creating this motivation-less otherworldly species, but without anything substantial to support their desire for presumed world domination, we’re forced to sit back and embrace every cheesy one-liner and pyrotechnic eyesore as they’re relentlessly showered upon us.

I’m aware that transforming a nearly half-century-old board game into a feature-length film should be taken as seriously as you’d expect it to be, but Battleship‘s overt pro-Navy mentality becomes tiresome, wearing out its welcome as militaristic wizardry turns to boredom whilst our ragtag bunch of humans outsmarts an intelligence far superior to ours. Putting aside the notion that the end result is as old as time itself, a botched attempt at recreating the film’s “source material” via an all-too-obvious species-on-species grudge match makes matters worse as it pairs itself with Battleship‘s overall ADD-infused lack of narrative cohesiveness.

Sure, every character’s linked in one way or another, but the problem is nobody actually gives a shit about any of them. For those looking for a solid chunk of pure cinematic escapism, this sadly isn’t a surefire cup of tea for even the least critical of viewers. A monumental budget to coincide with an equally absurd run time ensure that Battleship is a one-trick pony, hiding its innumerable shortcomings behind a thin if distracting veneer of flashy CGI, lens flare and loud noises, relying on our support of the human race, U.S. military and crumbling scenery to outweigh them. Uneven performances permeate this intolerable piece of gaudy trash, but if I have to say one positive thing about it, it’s this: Peter Berg does everything Michael Bay does but better; it’s just a shame that an age-old board game adaptation was what tickled his fancy before anything else.

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