Sunday, May 20, 2012

Movie Review: "Battleship" (2012) (Spoilers)

Just saw Battleshipwith my friend David.  Here's the review...

The Good

Once the actual alien invasion starts, things get fun.  I liked how Nagata devised a way to track the aliens without using radar using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoys.  It also provided a way to have naval combat resembling the Battleship game realistically.  I'd talked with friends about how this would do just as well without tying it into the game at all, but this actually justifies the fact they made this based on a board game.

Although it's dubious that the U.S.S. Missouri could be made ready for battle that quickly and that it has ammunition for its big guns handy, the modern Naval crew and the retired WWII and Korean vets working together to get the ship running and setting off to do battle against the main alien ship was awesome.  In addition to the action coolness, there's some humor in the timing of the shots in the "move the shell" scene.

I really liked the beginning in which Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) tries to impress Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) by breaking into a convenience store to get her a chicken burrito.  And then he flees the cops and gets Tased repeatedly to make sure she gets the burrito.  All that was hilarious.

They foreshadow Mick Canales (Gregory Gadson)'s hand-to-hand tooth-breaking brawl with the aliens by having Sam reference him being a Golden Gloves boxer when we first meet him.  Having him suddenly beat on the alien soldier without foreshadowing would have been an eye-roller.

The film does give some of the characters story arcs.  Alex has to grow out of his slacker ways and man up, especially once his effective brother is killed in battle.  He also has to put aside his pride and acknowledge the superior skills of Nagata, despite the soccer-game incident before.  Meanwhile, Canales has to put aside his self-pity and belief his injuries have left him incapable when the aliens attack and the NASA scientist has to face his own cowardice.  He starts out fleeing while the aliens massacre his graduate students, later abandons Sam and Canales, and ends with a surprise intervention into Canales' fight with the alien warrior..

Also, Rihanna didn't do a bad job as Petty Officer Cora Raikes.  It wasn't an outstanding performance, but she wasn't a bad actress.  The same for Decker.  If you want someone from a non-acting profession who cannot act, that British girl in Transformers: Dark of the Moon who had no chemistry with the male lead and only one good line ("Sentinel Prime's bitch!") is the way to go.

The Bad

There are some military issues.  I'm assuming Alex entered the Navy as an enlisted man due to his apparent lack of higher education (his brother is trying to get him a construction job).  Furthermore, assuming Alex was given the choice between jail or the military, which used to be fairly common and could explain why he wasn't in jail the next morning after breaking and entering, that's going to be another strike against advancing his career.

So how did he end up an officer again, especially in a relatively short time period?  Although it is possible for enlisted men to become officers (the "green to gold" program or something like that), very few long-service enlisted men become officers.  Where else do all these venerable sergeants and deck chiefs even low-ranking officers fear come from?

Also, there was some bad dialogue, especially early in the film.  When Stone laws down the law on his brother after the burrito incident, the culminating line ("YOU'RE JOINING ME IN THE NAVY!") was just lame.

The aliens are too human in appearance.  They're basically horse-faces with lizard eyes that don't take the sun well, four fingers on each hand, and funky beard-looking things.  Non-humanoid aliens would probably cost an arm and a leg to animate, but they could have looked a bit more different.

The aliens' odd military attitudes.  They smash two of the human destroyers but leave the third one alone when it breaks off to rescue survivors.  The aliens do a commando raid on the destroyer to rescue one of their personnel who's been taken prisoner and then walk off without taking the opportunity to kill the humans present (which include the ship's captain).  And then either they either left another soldier behind (the one who attacks the engine room) or were overconfident to the point they were willing to pull most of the rescue party off the ship and leave one to wreck it.  One of their soldiers catches the guy who runs the Beacon communications system and for some strange reason does not register him as a threat.

Either they were trying to fight a war with one hand behind their back (why?) or they were really overconfident.  If they'd been a bit more ruthless, they'd have won (or at least succeeded in phoning home with valuable intelligence that could aid a larger follow-up force, even if the initial attackers got nuked into oblivion later).

The Verdict

It was a entertaining movie, especially once the mayhem starts.  6 out of 10.  If you want to see this first-run, go to a matinee.


  1. Good review. It's pretty much just Transformers on water, and it's not even that fun. There were occasional moments where it seemed like this flick was getting somewhere, but then it just fell apart and decided to get louder and louder. My ears were pretty much ringing by the end of that and that never happens to me at places, except for maybe concerts.

  2. It was better than "Dark of the Moon," but a lot of stuff is better than "Dark of the Moon."

  3. Seen it. It would have made more $$$ had it not been up against The Avengers and Dark Shadows. Definitely worth the price of admission, but could have had SO much better a back story.