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Movie ReviewsRating: 3 of 5 yaps

Battleship

I don’t have a problem with video-game movies. I like video games and I like movies, and despite the protestations of some cinematic purists, it’s a natural fit for flicks that just want to give a good time.

The problem with “Battleship” is that it spends so much time denying that it’s a video game before turning on the fireworks that everyone came to see.

Yes, yes, the movie is actually based on the classic Hasbro board game, in which opponents try to blindly guess the location of their enemy’s battleship. (And, at least in my case, attempt to stave off mind-numbing boredom while playing.)

But make no mistake: It’s a big-budget special effects summer movie.

To those wondering what the heck the game has to do with the film: Yes, there is a sequence about halfway through where the good guys use a clever trick using a grid-like pattern to track the alien boogums they’re fighting. And, of course, nearly all the mayhem takes place aboard Navy vessels.

If you’re looking for metaphysical ruminations about the first contact between man and an alien race, you won’t find them here. The aliens come to Earth for purposes never really made clear, other than they’re here to give humans something at which to shoot.

They come out of the ocean in big seafaring hovercraft-y things that sort of jump around the water’s surface and change shape. Think “Transformers” meets “Independence Day” meets “War of the Worlds,” and you’ve got a pretty good handle.

Eventually they do emerge from their ships and are surprisingly un-buggy and humanoid. They could be first cousins to the blue dudes in “Avatar,” but they favor mechanistic armor and weaponry over a biometric hair hookup.

Liam Neeson is featured prominently in the film’s trailers, but it’s just a walk-on role as the stern admiral, who promptly gets sidelined as soon as the sea spray hits the fan. The real star is Taylor Kitsch as Alex Hopper, a ne’er-do-well rebel who joins the Navy as a last resort and somehow ends up commanding the battle against the aliens.

Kitsch has presence as an action star, but the wind-up involving Alex’s transformation from zero to hero takes way, way too long. It’s 45 minutes or so into the movie before the critters from outer space show up, and until then it’s a bunch of familiar pabulum about learning to grow up, work as a team, etc.

Director Peter Berg and screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber cling so desperately to the idea that their movie is about the human element when Alex and all the rest (including singer Rihanna) are really just arcade avatars ready to be put through their paces.

Brooklyn Decker plays Alex’s love interest, who just so happens — gosh! — to be the daughter of the mean ol’ admiral. Decker has the notable luck to be featured in two big Hollywood releases this week (the other is “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”), but neither one is much to brag about.

Gregory D. Gadson, an actual Army veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq, has a solid turn as a disgruntled war veteran who rediscovers his inner warrior battling the aliens.

Now, the movie is named “Battleship,” but of course battleships are military anachronisms — huge, hulking behemoths designed to batter the enemy with its huge guns. The Navy prefers fast, nimble destroyers these days. There’s a turn of events late in the going that rectifies the discrepancy, which is both extraordinarily unlikely and a cheap applause moment.

There are a few times in this movie to cheer and thrill, but the filmmakers don’t seem to want to own up to its bubblegum nature. The worst kind of video-game movies are those that pretend not to be.

3 Yaps

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9 Responses to “Battleship”

  1. Todd Adkins says:

    The whole thing felt incredibly underwhelming to me. Maybe the previews showed too much alien tech, but everything just felt sort of…lacking, I guess. Lots of explosions and lots of people yelling – and little else, I’m afraid. ***** CAUTION ***** However, I must take exception to the comment posted earlier about this being a great film for ALL AGES. There is quite a bit of profanity in this. According to another site who rates films based on their family friendliness, there are over a dozen "s-words" and roughly 30 other milder objectionable words. If you’re a parent of younger children and care about language in a movie, please be advised.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I’m torn. The reviewer seemed totally bored and didn’t like it, yet still got 3 yaps. There is also the fact that it only made $25 million opening weekend and it cost $200 million to make. No one has mentioned Rihanna yet. How did she do? Is it worth my theater money or just a redbox flick? Help people!

  3. This was an excellent movie for all ages. the special effects and action had me on the edge of my seat several times. I had a pass, but will gladly pay to see it again. Thank you!! and keep those previews coming!!

  4. Victor Wakley says:

    This movie made me cheer our brave men and women of the military, especially the old guys who stepped up when they were needed the most. The action was great and the cast worked very well together.

  5. Dimontae Parker says:

    After reading the review and comments here, I am planning to take my wife to see it as part of our anniversary celebration. I remember playing the Battleship Game with my brothers and sisters when I was younger. Memories!

  6. John Davis says:

    Based upon the review and what I’m reading here, Battleship is a movie worth seeing. I enjoyed reading the comments.

  7. Eric Alexander says:

    This movie was amazing. I love how they incorporated the game of battleship into the movie, it was genius. Also the emotional level was great as well, but the themes of courage, sacrifice, and love.

  8. Tony George says:

    I was lucky enough to get passes to a free screening of this movie through a radio station. I thought the movie was action packed with great graphics. I never did understand the aliens purpose for coming to earth but still enjoyed the movie. I was surprised by Rihana’s acting ability and think she did a great job.

  9. Zach says:

    I liked Battleship, I didn’t love it but I liked it. The special effects were really good but you don’t see them till half way through the movie because they’re too busy telling a pointless backstory. But it is a good summer movie that we all have come to expect.