Tuesday, June 25, 2013

PCP on DVD - Battleship

Sometimes I wonder how films get greenlit, or even how Hollywood comes up with its ideas. Making a movie based on a board game seems like seriously scraping the bottom of the ideas barrel. So, going in to Battleship, I had set my expectations bar extremely low. It didn't help that the movie bombed domestically (although it did very well overseas so it wasn't a total loss) and also that it had Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker, two beautiful women not known for their acting, as a part of the cast. So, I went into this film expecting very little, and because I had set the bar so low, I was actually surprised by this movie.

Battleship - 2012, rated PG-13.  My rating: 6 out of 10.

Battleship tells the tale of an alien invasion that has to be fought off by a plucky group of naval sailors on a gunboat. Yeah, because that has so much in common with the board game. It could have been called so many other things besides Battleship, but I guess they wanted to tie in to the board game they stole the title from, no matter how tenuous the connection. Also, the majority of the action takes place on not a battleship (as there are no active battleships as a part of the US Navy) but on a guided missile destroyer. A battleship doesn't even get involved in the film until the end (see the spoilers section below).

The film stars Taylor Kitsch as a hotheaded Lieutenant who suddenly finds himself in charge when the alien invasion cuts off most of the Pacific fleet from the alien ships, because of the aliens' force field technology. 2012 wasn't a good year for Kitsch, as all three films he starred in - this, John Carter (my review here), and Savages (review coming soon) - all were not box office smashes. He's dating Brooklyn Decker, the daughter of the Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet (Liam Neeson). Kitsch is good, and he's reunited here with director Peter Berg, creator of Friday Night Lights, and his FNL costar Jesse Plemmons (Landry), but he's not quite ready to carry a blockbuster film largely on his own just yet. He's not helped here by his costars, as mentioned Rihanna and Decker, who are there more for audience eye candy than anything particularly else.

The film itself is largely predictable, as are most alien invasion films, so you know which side is going to win in the end. This results in not a whole lot of tension or suspense. That doesn't mean the film isn't worth watching though. The action sequences and special effects are well done, and the ship battles are rather cool. It is especially awesome for action once they dial things up to eleven when the titular battleship joins the fray late in the film. Overall, the film is a brainless summer popcorn film. It won't make you think deep whatsoever, and the plot is silly and has one massive glaring plot hole (see spoiler space below after the jump) but what it does well it does very well. If you've got absolutely nothing better to do, enjoy the film. If not, you won't really miss much of anything if you don't see the film either. If you keep your mental bar set low for the film, you might come away surprised, just like I did.

Ok, read on only if you don't mind reading spoilers after the jump. You've been warned!


Ok, so as I mentioned, the US has decommissioned all battleships more than 20 years ago, as they are obsolete weapons platforms. As the film takes place near Hawaii, there is only one battleship that hasn't been scrapped anywhere remotely near the island: the USS Missouri. The Missouri is a WWII era battleship that is now a museum ship, anchored overlooking the USS Arizona memorial inside Pearl Harbor. It is a museum ship, stripped of all working weapons and ammunition. I was on the deck of the Missouri in 2011 when I took a tour, it is not ready to go into battle, as it is not in working order anymore. Yet somehow the creators of the film expect us to believe that the crew of Kitsch's ship plus a group of Missouri veterans at Pearl Harbor for a ceremony are able to magically rearm and resupply the ship for its epic faceoff vs the aliens. They even throw in a nice rearming montage. Here's the thing though: the ship was decommissioned, as were all battleships of that size. No current naval platform has 16 inch guns. So, where in the world did they get the ammunition for the ship? It's not like the Navy would keep that stuff laying around, they'd have gotten rid of that years ago before it got too old and unstable. This creates a monster plot hole that requires a massive suspension of disbelief to get around.

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