Battleship (2012)

(On-demand, August 2012) Everything about Battleship is ridiculous, starting with the premise. Adapting a board game by turning it in a movie where the US navy battles aliens?  Well, I suppose someone thought it was a good idea.  Never mind the pedestrian dialogue, contrived set-pieces, dull characters (too bad, Taylor Kitsch… although Rihanna does a bit better in her big-screen debut), terrible science and suspicious similarities with other films.  (This best Michael Bay movie not actually directed by Michael Bay feels a lot like Transformers 3.5, but there are similarities here with everything from Titanic to Independence Day.)   The trick, of course, is that by Hollywood’s action-movie standards, Battleship isn’t badly made: director Peter Berg knows how to put together crowd-pleasing entertainment, the action sequences are spectacular, the look at the modern US navy is intriguing and the technical credentials are polished to a fine gloss (the sound design itself is exceptional).  But appreciating this kind of film requires a special mind-set: Battleship’s make-or-break moment comes at the beginning of the third act, as a patently impossible “let’s get the band of brothers back together” moment occurs.  At that point, viewers will either throw their hands up in the air in disbelief, or rock out to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.  As for the rest, stuff blows up real good (nowhere no more spectacularly than during a long uninterrupted shot flying over a sinking ship.) and there’s a lot of detail shown on-screen.  For Science-Fiction fans, the pickings are slim: Beyond the excuse needed to pit the modern US Navy against more capable foes, Battleship notably isn’t interested in explaining anything –besides a few mid-story flashes of memory transfer that are never referred to again.  But that only makes it a terrible SF movie, not necessarily a bad viewing experience.  Anyone with a tolerance, heck, a fondness for the kind of gloriously loud Hollywood action film will get a charge out of Battleship.  The soundtrack helps.

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