While it's hard not to make comparisons to the blockbuster trilogy that is Transformers (even the marketing pushes that), Battleship actually has far more competent storytelling - granted, not a difficult task. Don't get me wrong, there are lines in this script that are so inanely gung ho you'll want to spit out your popcorn; but for the most part the more than capable helmer Peter Berg keeps things moving along breezily enough to a surprisingly fun final twenty minutes or so.
Taylor Kitsch is a bit of a rebel - his brother, played by the very Swedish looking Alexander Skarsgard is not. Both brothers end up in the navy; Skarsgard's boyscout sibling excels and quickly obtains his own ship for command, while Kitsch's maverick sailor is more concerned with getting Liam Neeson's commanding officer to allow him marry his beautiful daughter. Their lives are put on hold, however, when a bunch of alien wrong sorts respond to a message from earth and turn up in the middle of The Pacific Ocean during a military exercise. Quickly realising that these ET's aren't as cuddly as 80s Spielberg would have ya believe (although ironically they are attempting to phone home) a battle fought on the ocean floor soon takes place.
Berg was clear that he's very much a military buff, and his love for the American Armed Forces is pretty obvious from the opening moments of Battleship and then reinforced considerably come the action packed conclusion. Berg is the man who gave us some incredibly touching moments during Friday Night Lights, and some surprisingly human ones in The Kingdom. While he struggles to make any single character connect, he could argue that this is a very different kind of movie. It's a production with a mammoth budget a clear blockbuster sensibility, so, naturally, do not expect anything resembling the cerebral.
Kitsch's guy is obviously modelled on Maverick in Top Gun, and there is more than one nod to the now decades old action flick. He lacks wit in a similar way that Cruise's moody pilot did, and is ultimately more brooding than charismatic. In a world of Ryan's (both Reynolds and Gosling) you can't help but shake the feeling that another actor could've made him work a bit more; he's kind of cheeky, kind of silly, but mostly just a bit dopey. Neeson has mostly nothing to do; Rihanna could be any actress with a crew cut and Skarsgard essentially a cliché quote machine from the military handbook.
Battleship is a broad, action packed crowd pleaser that is dumber than a pissed-up Tallafornia cast member at a free bar. But, it also packs a fun punch.
Story by Mike Sheridan | 15:02 | Wednesday 22nd August 2012 | DVD review
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