Staying Afloat - A review of Battleship
Translating a boardgame into an interesting takes quite a lot of skill.
Sometimes I question Liam Neeson's choices for movie roles. This is one of those times.
Now that's not to say that this is a bad movie. It really isn't. And part of that can be directly attributed to Neeson's involvement. He is one of the finest actors currently working in Hollywood.
Here he plays an Admiral who is assigned to oversee the RIMPAC international games, an intercontinental Naval gathering where different world countries compete to see which military unit can function best in these contests.
While the competition is going on, though, aliens invade the Pacific Ocean and the friendly combatants suddenly find themselves at war with an interstellar foe instead of an Earthbound one.
The film is based upon the game of the same name by Hasbro...you know the one. You call out letter and number combinations until someone yells out "Bingo"?
What's that you say? That's NOT the one? Oh, then it's the card game where you tell your opponent to go fish...oh, not that one either, eh? Oh, yeah, that's right. You have to start crying when someone actually gets the number combo right and blubber, "You sank my battleship..."
Ironically, they do manage to incorporate the gameplay and the grid quite effectively into the story. And it's a compelling scene to watch as the Aliens and the ships each try to sink each other.
And of course, they have to incorporate the classic tale of two brothers, one an achiever (Alexander Skarsgard), the other a lout (Taylor Kitsch, fresh off his failure with "John Carter") with his eyes fixed on the Admiral's daughter (Brooklyn Decker). It's not hard to predict how that tale is going to turn out.
One of the highlights of the story, though, is the paraplegic vet who finds himself useful again as he invades the SETI base which has been overthrown by the aliens. He's there with the aforementioned Admiral's daughter, who also happens to be his rehabilitation therapist. The relationship starts out rocky but you know that by movie's end, they will find a way to work things out.
Overall, this movie feels like "Independence Day" on the ocean. It's a really great recruiting flick for the Navy, but not much more than that. The action is fun, but predictable. The special effects are just okay, and it's a perfect popcorn picture for the summer, as long as you leave most of your brain at home to complete more important tasks.
I give "Battleship" 3-1/2 out of 5 stars.
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