'Battleship' founders under its own weight

Donnerstag, Mai 17, 2012 | by: Mat DeKinder

 

Miss!

OK. Fine, as much as I would like to get away with that one-word review I'm pretty sure my editors don't like me enough to let me do it. I'm still tempted to leave it at that since that's basically the same amount of thought that went into the sensory-assaulting mess that is "Battleship."

The movie is based on the classic board game, which means Hollywood is officially running out of ideas.

Of course, I used the word "based" loosely since you can't really make a movie about two kids sitting in a den shouting out letters and numbers and replying with "Hit!" or "Miss!" Well, I guess you could, but the movie would probably have to be Swedish and more than four hours long. But I digress.

What the movie does have is battleships. Not to mention aliens and explosions and hot chicks and patriotism and more explosions and Liam Neeson and a pounding, classic-rock soundtrack.

Given that testosterone-fueled laundry list you might safely assume that "Battleship" was directed by Michael Bay, but you would be wrong. It was instead directed by Peter Berg, who has matched Bay in both style and substance, but not in tone.

There is a light innocence that drifts through the hot mess that is "Battleship" as opposed to the defiant, almost angry vibe that permeates Bay's schlock-fests. In fact, "Battleship" might be so bad that it's good, but more on that later.

The plot, if that's what you want to call it, centers on Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) a hot-headed burnout who is supposedly wasting his alleged potential. In need of direction, Alex joins his brother Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) in the Navy where in spite of his loser-dom he somehow is allowed to become a lieutenant.

Lt. Alex also wins the heart of the smokin' hot Sam (Brooklyn Decker), who just so happens to be the daughter of Alex's disapproving commanding officer, Admiral Shane (Neeson).

After all this setup, which chews up a good part of the first half of the movie, the entire fleet sails out to participate in war games which wind up getting interrupted by an alien invasion. Isn't that always the way?

The aliens set up a force field that encapsulates Hawaii and separates the main fleet from the islands, and three lone battleships, two of which are commanded by the Hopper boys, represent humanity's last, best chance.

You can pretty much guess how things play out from there, so I won't bore you by diagraming the massive gaps in logic that haunt the rest of the film.

"Battleship" is notable for a couple of things: the first being that it marks the acting debut of pop mega-star Rihanna who does a serviceable job as Petty Officer Cora "Weps" Raikes.

The second is the casting of real-life Navy servicemen and veterans. A large role went to Gregory D. Gadson, a veteran who lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq. He plays Mick, a disgruntled vet who helps Alex's girlfriend, Sam, thwart the aliens' attempt to establish communications with their home planet (just go with it).

The coolest part of the movie occurs when Alex and his crew are forced to resurrect the famous battleship USS Missouri and enlist the help of actual veterans who served on the Missouri to run the ship's antiquated equipment. These salty old sea dogs steal the show.

There is an earnestness to "Battleship" that makes it impossible to hate even with its clunky dialogue and plot holes so big you could float the entire Pacific Fleet through them.

"Battleship" is a complete failure as a movie, but I kind of admire it for being pure spectacle that embraces its inherent ridiculousness. Granted that's not enough to make me want to sit through it ever again, but it is admirable none the less.

"Battleship" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language.

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