After the summer movie season was kicked off in style a few weeks back with “The Avengers,” it’s difficult to accept a big-budget movie like “Battleship” that often settles for being ordinary.
Based on the Hasbro board game, “Battleship” is long, loud and pedestrian in nearly every way but one. This film, unlike many others, celebrates our Armed Services and especially the members of the United States Navy.
Although the movie’s first two-thirds bog it down with clichés and terrible dialogue, its love for the military shines through during the exhilarating final act.
“Battleship” begins with a familiar character: a cocky, smooth-talking loner whose penchant for mischief gets him into trouble. That loner is Alex Hopper, played by “Friday Night Lights'” Taylor Kitsch.
As the story opens, Alex is flirting with a young woman (Brooklyn Decker) and ends up in a police car after an ill-conceived plan to get her a burrito after the local convenience store has closed.
Hopper eventually enlists in the Navy and, after causing trouble there, is a few days away from being kicked out of the service. To emphasize the point, Liam Neeson–playing Hopper’s commanding officer and the father of the burrito girl–spouts silly lines like, “Enjoy these Naval exercises, Hopper. They’re likely to be your last.”
Of course, the aliens arrive soon after that, and Hopper must stand up and command a crew in order to stop them from destroying our planet.
The plot sounds like a combination of “Independence Day,” “Armageddon” and “Transformers,” and in many ways, this film tries to replicate the formula that made those three pictures massively successful. But the script–written by Erich and Jon Hoeber–does it few favors. Not only are the clichés obvious, but the dialogue is banal and mundane.
And in one of the film’s silliest decisions, it takes an unnecessary cue from the board game that ultimately limits its potential. In the story, after the alien ship lands in the ocean, a couple of the battleships are trapped inside a force-field which limits their ability to move. It feels like the idea behind this concept was to replicate the fact that ships during the game the movie was inspired by are forced to stay in one position. That restriction works in the game, but it falls flat in the film.
At times, the ships do engage in battle with the alien spacecraft, but for long periods of time, the battleships just float in the same area tediously.
In all fairness, this movie’s final third is an awesome finale to an underwhelming film. The Navy, which is portrayed positively throughout the story, takes center stage as its officers work together to fight the aliens.
With music blaring and patriotism prominent, the final third is an overt but exciting celebration of our nation’s military heroes. Early on in the picture, “Battleship” hints that the film supports our veterans, but by the finale its patriotism is obvious and awe-inspiring. I can’t recommend this movie as a whole but I loved its conclusion and what it says about our troops.
If you’re looking for a good movie, “Battleship” doesn’t make the cut, but if you want a movie that will leave you energized about our nation’s heroes, you can do a lot worse.