Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Film Review: Battleship


Directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, Friday Night Lights) and co-produced with Hasbro legend, Brian Goldner, of the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises, Battleship is the latest science-fiction, action thriller to hit the big screen. Inspired by the Hasbro board game of the same name, Battleship has also been hyped as music star Rihanna's film debut.

Based on its Transformer's credentials, audiences are likely to expect a lot from Battleship, but does it deliver?

Unfortunately, with a somewhat long-winded opening that is more comedic than exciting, Battleship is not instantly gripping. After breaking into a convenience store to steal a chicken burrito for gorgeous girl Samantha (Brooklyn Decker), Hopper is forced to do something with his life and joins the navy. But, as Samantha's father is a hard to please Admiral (Liam Neeson), Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) has to prove himself before he can marry her.

This overly-long introduction is sporadically interspersed with scientists sending messages to Planet G - a planet with a similar climate to ours. When Planet G's aliens send their ships to earth during a naval exercise, Lieutenant Hopper embarks on an intense ocean based battle with the help of Petty Officer Cora Raikes (Rihanna) and Japanese Commanding Officer, Nagata (Tadanobu Asanu).

Once the action gets going, Battleship does ramp up the excitement level. The alien ships are convincing, with the exception of weaponised, metallic, fire balls that just seem a step too far. But much of the suspense falls apart when the aliens' faces are revealed. Being somewhere between human, fish and lizard, it might have been better if they had just left their helmets on.

It also never really becomes clear what the aliens want. They appear to target objects that threaten them - guns and roads - being unconcerned with humans themselves. This aspect of Battleship would have benefitted from further development, or at least a summing up in the film's closing moments.

On the plus side, the US military battleships are nicely showcased, particularly a steam based veteran ship. But this is sadly undermined by an overly patriotic script that becomes almost cheesy in parts. To its cost, Battleship lacks interesting characters that go beyond mere action movie stereotypes. For her debut, Rihanna is not given a particularly challenging role, although she does manage to pull off the part of the tough weapons officer fairly well.

The film's tenuous link to Hasbro's boardgame is introduced neatly in the form of an electronic grid that monitors water displacement, enabling identification of the alien ships. On the downside though, this is also part of a much too sentimental Japanese-American subplot.

Although Battleship is bursting with patriotism and has numerous plot holes and cliches, it does deliver entertainment value through its action sequences.

For the official site, click here

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