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Zimbio Review - Sink This 'Battleship'


The Bottom Line
Should you see it?


One of the worst alien attack movies ever made, Battleship is an insult in nearly every way.
I'm not sure how anyone could ever like Battleship, the new soulless effects-driven crapfest from director Peter Berg. The film is annoying in the way a foghorn in your face is annoying, and yes, there are foghorns in the movie. "Inspired" by a Hasbro board game, and thus, destined to be a fiasco of the highest order, the movie steals nearly every second from previous films. Unoriginal? Try totally bastardized... the presence of Berg had me hoping it would at least be fun. Nope, Battleship is an awkward failboat of a movie that deserves a one way trip to Davy Jones' Locker.

The plot follows a pair of brothers, the overachiever, Stone (Alexander Skarsgard), and the dummy rebel, Alex (Taylor Kitsch), as swabbies caught in the middle of Naval exercises near Pearl Harbor when alien spacecrafts splash down. Alex has a sweetheart, Sam (Brooklyn Decker), the daughter of the Admiral (Liam Neeson), who he must impress before he asks him for permission to marry his little girl. Rounding out the cast are some lesser-ranked sailors: Raikes (Rihanna) and Ordy (Jesse Plemons). The aliens come to Earth thanks to a signal sent out by a pair of unshowered scientists who discover the spacecrafts in formation and entering Earth's atmosphere. But, it's the Navy's problem now. The aliens put up a forcefield and blow some Naval destroyers out of the water while sending out spinning buzzsaw balls that proceed to take out highways on Oahu. They have superior firepower and look invincible, but they don't have one thing... they don't have: A BATTLESHIP!

Why are the aliens attacking Earth? I do not have the answer, and neither does the movie. Their attack is aimless as their only goal seems to be sending a signal out to space so more of them can come. Planetary domination? I suppose so... but it's never explained.

The movie begins with Alex wooing Sam by breaking into a mini mart to get her a chicken burrito because the bartender wouldn't microwave her one at the bar. The robbery is shown on the store's security cameras in a stupid and pointless ode to this viral video. This act of chivalry wins her heart and we next see the young couple canoodling in the grass in a scene stolen from Armageddon. A tribute perhaps? Don't give the movie so much credit.

While our Naval heroes conduct their sea exercises, we are shown the two goofball scientists who sent the signal to outer space. Soon they're on the phone with NASA in a sequence that looks like a made for TV movie. We meet the Secretary of Defense (Peter MacNicol) who chastizes the scientists with the obtuse lack of enthusiasm of an actor with no interest in acting. MacNicol's performance is a microcosm of the entire supporting cast. An ensemble which features a terrible performance from a non-actor (the real-life war hero, Gregory D. Gadson) who at one point asks. "Have you ever seen an alien? I've never seen an alien." Before he goes off to find the invaders. The main characters do display the requisite amount of urgency needed to push a mindless action film but the writing is so bad, the lines so hackneyed, that it's very hard to take any of this seriously.

The aliens are another problem. Their point of view is shown throughout the film as they pinpoint (in red) hostile targets and ignore (in green) anything else. The traffic light color scheme is hilarious and the POV shots are stolen from Predator. Not to be outdone, the aliens also have knives that retract from their hands... another Predator detail.

What else sucks? Well, the aliens (as all aliens do) have a weakness. They can't handle the sunlight. A drawback that forces them to wear helmets (stolen from Halo) at all times, thus robbing the audience of something that might actually be cool: what the aliens look like. This weakness is discovered by Ordy who explains that his pet lizard hates the sun and he thinks the aliens have lizard eyes. So instead of actually thinking of a real reason the aliens could be sensitive to the sun, the "writers" of this farce took something completely untrue and just threw it in the film.

How else is Battleship insulting? Well, it contains bullshit product placement (thanks to Subway), it rips off the score from Inception, it does that PG-13 thing where someone is about to say a swear word, but suddenly the camera cuts away (Rihanna: "Mahalo, mother..."), it defies the laws of physics as the aliens arrive on Earth weeks after the signal is sent, and it wastes the talents of Neeson (I was waiting for him to say, "They sank my battleship!" Sadly, it never happens). The movie also features a laughable sequence where the good guys actually play the Hasbro version of Battleship on monitors. The aliens don't show up on radar or sonar so the humans bomb them using a "water displacement" method that's enacted with a gameboard grid complete with little outlines of battleship game pieces. But, alas, no PT boats.

I could go on and on here, but this movie isn't worth it. It's irredeemable. Shame on Peter Berg for his participation in such a blatant mockery of a film. Put this one in the ignominious realm of other such laughers as Battleship Earth or Plan 9 From Outer Space. There aren't enough white pegs in the world. It's a giant miss.

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