Battleship is a board game for children, so it stands to reason a film adaptation would also be aimed at kids. But did they have to gear it to really dumb kids?
Halfway through this bloated slog of a movie, the most undemanding 10-year-old is going to think about sneaking out and switching theaters to catch the end of The Avengers again. Battleship makes you reconsider every mean thing you ever said about Michael Bay: Compared to this, even Pearl Harbor starts looking good. At least that picture, however misguided, had a pulse. You could feel the intent of the filmmakers; you could tell what they striving for.
All Battleship strives to do is separate you from your money. The only people who seem to be trying are the special effects crews, particularly the sound mixers, who must have racked up serious overtime coming up with cool whirs and booms and noises to accompany an extra-terrestrial invasion of our planet. The film is stuffed with ear candy. Particularly memorable is the grinding buzz made by the metallic orbs the aliens lob at Earth like ping pong balls — robotic Tasmanian Devils that devour everything in their path (concrete, metal, steel, you name it).
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Battleship was directed by Peter Berg, who is not without talent (he made The Rundown, The Kingdom, and Hancock, as well as Friday Night Lights). Berg shows the proper awe and respect for the movie’s superb computer-generated creations: He holds on shots long enough to allow you to take in the details of the spacecraft and their weapons (their missiles are shaped like the white and red pegs used in the board game). Berg also shows you the stuff you want to see early on, including a good long look at what the aliens look like — a cross between lizards and ZZ Top.
The script for Battleship, which was written by brothers Erich and Jon Hoeber (Whiteout, Red), figures out a way to come up with an unforgivably long sequence in which the good guys stare at a giant radar grid that looks exactly like the board game and shout out coordinates to use to fire away at the aliens. One guy shouts “It’s a hit!” Another dude says “They ain’t gonna sink this battleship!” Later, someone else knocks over a large container of toys that crash to the floor and spill out toward the camera, so we get a nice close-up of plastic battleship models that are probably available right now at a store near you.
Directed by Peter Berg. Screenplay by Erich Hoeber and John Hoeber. A Universal Pictures release, playing at Rave Franklin Park, Fallen Timers, and Levis Commons. rated PG-13: Vulgar language, sci-fi violence. Running time 131 minutes.
Critic's rating: *
Alex .......... Taylor Kitsch
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