Saturday, April 6, 2013

Battleship - Miss

Everyone knows what Battleship is. It's a game where you and another player set up ships on a grid and each one calls out coordinates to try and sink the most ships first. It started out in the 30's as a pad-and-pencil game, but since its release as a full-on board game by Milton-Bradley, Battleship has become somewhat of a household name in the board game community ("You sunk my Battleship!" should be a familiar phrase to you at this point). So naturally, after successful forays in adapting action figures into movies (financially at least), it was decided to begin adapting Hasbro's various board game lines, Battleship starting things off (I'm guessing that Candy Land will be getting a movie at some point). Now reviews of this movie haven't exactly been that great, but after recently viewing another movie based on a line of action figures, I decided I might as well give this one a shot. The result? Well, surprisingly, this movie was actually better than I was expecting it to be, but it's most definitely not a hit.

Upon discovering a planet similar to Earth, dubbed Planet-G, NASA sends out a signal in the hopes of being able to communicate with an alien life form (three guesses as to what happens later as a result). While this is going on, Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is trying to impress a girl at a bar, Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), by returning with a chicken burrito from a nearby convenience store within 5 minutes. However, as the store is just closing when he arrives, he resorts to a hi-jinks-induced break-in that results in his arrest. Upon waking up in an icy bathtub after a severe tazing from the police, Alex's older brother, Stone, (Alexander Skarsgård) tells him to join the Navy to get his act together. The plot that follows gets a tad predictable at times for those that have seen enough blockbuster films, but manages to muscle through to the end.

Like I said, the plot can get a bit predictable and slow at times, but one of the bigger questions is why they decided aliens were necessary to try and recreate the board game this movie takes inspiration from. Then again, this was probably so as not to offend any particular nation, so I guess this decision wasn't too much of a loss. What I can say however is that, like in the case of Super Mario Bros., this movie can actually get pretty clever. The primary weapons that the aliens use are explosives, which actually look and function much like the familiar pegs in the board game, and there's a sequence near the end that actually recreates the game board, with military language being used to call out shots. (Don't worry about the catch phrase appearing in the movie; a character in the last act actually delivers a nice variation of it.) While these scenes are nice to have to remind the audience why it carries the Battleship name, they are few and far between and only serve to make the naval battles the most exciting part of the feature.

Cora Raikes (Rihanna) and Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) witnessing the
surfacing of what will be their enemy for the next hour or so.
The acting of this feature isn't awful, but it is competent as the actors work with the dialogue they are given (this includes the surprise casting choice of singer Rihanna as a main character). Admittedly, a few things did make me chuckle, but this movie is not exactly a laugh riot. On the plus side of things, the music was good, bringing a sense of dread at times to the actions of the aliens and making the naval battles a little more epic. The effects are also amazing, given they were done by Industrial Light and Magic, the quality of which lead me to actually believe that the first ad I was seeing was for another Transformers movie (and believe me, you will be thinking of Transformers a few times while watching this film).

As a whole, Battleship was surprisingly decent for a movie based on a children's board game, but it does have its flaws. As far as plot goes, the most exciting parts are when it actually pretends that it's a board game, but you must tread through a rather predictable story in order to get to these parts. In any case, while the movie misses the shot, it doesn't miss completely and it's worth viewing at least once for fans of live-action movies based on Hasbro board games.

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