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article imageReview: ‘Battleship’ is several explosions too many Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 19, 2012 in Entertainment
‘Battleship’ is a long series of explosions, motivated by an alien invasion and inspired by the board game of the same name.
"Based on the Hasbro game." Audiences are used to seeing film adaptations of books and video games, but these have narratives with which to work. Extending a board game into a feature-length movie is a tall order and somewhat frivolous endeavour. But Hollywood's lack of originality has finally uncovered an untapped source. Battleship is likely to be the first of many in this category.
Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is an unemployed ne'er-do-well living on his brother's couch (Alexander Skarsgård). But when he gets in trouble yet again, his brother forces him to join him in the navy. Having matured, Hopper made lieutenant and was leading a crew during war games. However, the fun is interrupted when an alien force answers a signal people were sending to an Earth-like planet, landing in the middle of the naval exercise. As one of the characters already predicted, if The Beacon Project resulted in an answer it was "going to be like Columbus and the Indians... except we're the Indians." The sailors quickly stage a counter-attack, only proving the invaders' technology is far more advanced.
The plot is expectedly weak, even though they spend the first section of the film attempting to establish characters and their relationships. These scenes are funny, but shallow. There is also service paid to those injured in action as a retired soldier who lost his legs in combat still plays a vital part in thwarting the invasion. Kitsch, Skarsgård, Liam Neeson, Rhianna and Tadanobu Asano do their best to instill personality in their roles and keep the audience from straying in between explosions. To this end, the soundtrack (which not surprisingly includes a couple of AC/DC songs) is powerful, popular and keeps the audience engaged.
But this movie isn't about the script – it's about watching things get blown up. And they do. A lot. Everything from massive navy vessels to city streets to an entire island is decimated slowly and loudly. The effects in this respect are fantastic, making this a top-notch looking film. But there are a limited number of ways they can destroy large, supposedly indestructible objects, so at more than two hours they eventually become slight variations of the same thing. In addition, one of the alien weapons emits a screeching noise akin to nails on a chalkboard that makes those scenes very difficult to enjoy.
There are many scenes and cheesy lines that almost make you admire it for its courage to play them through. These include the slow-mo sequence of retired sailors stepping up to the plate and the moment when you realize the movie truly is based on the board game. "E4!" "Fire!" But it's not enough. If they'd simply sped things up and tailored it for the short attention spans it's geared towards, Battleship may have been a more enjoyable film.
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson
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