Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson
When a film is promoted as coming from ‘the same company that brought you Transformers’, there is good reason to be wary. Hasbro is that company, and their latest money-making venture (c’mon, why else would they promote it that way?!) is a film version of the love-it-or-hate-it game Battleships, as seen by Friday Night Light’s creator and Hancock director, Peter Berg.
The film takes an early misstep with Berg making the fatal error of painting his world and the worn out characters that fill it as loveable comedic buffoons, even going as far as to include the Pink Panther theme as part of the soundtrack to enhance the hilarity of an extraordinarily bizarre opening segment to what is promised to be an effects-driven action flick. The error be fatal due to the attempted veer in the direction of seriousness when the alien life forms that prove trouble for our navy fleet make one hell of a splash on earth. Taking these characters seriously proves troublesome in itself, hindered even more so by the dialogue (written by brother’s Eric and Jon Hoeber) that is so disastrously clunky, it could sink ships no matter what battle was thrown its way (perhaps this was realised, leading to an exchange where a scientist responds to a certain patriotic line by quipping 'who says that?'). All the acting talent do their best with what they have, which happens to be not a lot. Lead Taylor Kitsch as Hopper manages to escape without being as unlikeable as he should be – kudos to him.
It is fearful that everybody involved feels that they are involved in something of a game-changer; a blockbuster to rival rich vigilantes, men dressed in black and those Avengers. Okay, so the entire affair is not an unbearable one, with Berg proving he can capture impressively crafted effects-driven action that the most uninterested person wouldn’t roll their eyes at, as well as a few (read very few) scenes of promise (not to mention an out-there scene where the fleet adopt the actual rules of the game Battleships in an attempt to save the world... and you know, justify the film.) But everything else is too lacklustre to make it count; not even Neeson can salvage this. At 131 minutes, fit with sentimental sub-plots and people quipping snappy lines before blowing things up, the game here needs to be drastically raised if it wants to rub shoulders with the big dogs.
But if mindless, unrewarding mayhem is what you’re searching for - or you just fancy seeing Rihanna fire some heavy artillery - watch Battleship on repeat.