Movie Review - Battleship

The most difficult thing to do when going to watch a film based on a board game is to turn off the cynic switch. If you can do this, which is bloody hard in this instance, you get a film which is if nothing else, enjoyable.

When the initial trailers came out I was convinced that this was the new Transformers film. The sound, the effects and the EXPLOSIONS had me thinking that Michael Bay had fast tracked the Autobots next outing. After seeing Battleship, I'm still thinking this is the case.

Hard to port and set a heading for CHEESY ISLAND!

Battleship is a film based on the Milton Bradley board game which was first published by the company in 1931 and 81 years later, a 200 million dollar film retells the story. Well, not really. I don't ever remember my games of Battleship including alien invasions and pop singers. If they did, I probably would have played it more than 3 times.

With such a crazy background, it should be no surprise that this film has the cheese factor turned up to 11. I actually found myself singing "America, F#@$ YEAH!" at one point. It is truly ludicrous to see an advanced alien race being threatened by some people in boats. As long as you can swallow the cheese and don't expect anything, ANYTHING outside of what you see in the trailer you may actually enjoy it.

This film is firmly aimed at the same demographic as the A-Team and of course, Transformers. Sure, women get some eye candy in Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard but that's about all they get. Men, however, get explosions, aliens, guns, Brooklyn Decker in a bikini, an overtly violent soccer match, jet planes, Brooklyn Decker in another bikini, Qui Gon Jinn, John Carter, Ichi the Killer, the tall vampire dude from True Blood and of course Rihanna. Ok, enough of my trademark snarkiness, Battleship did do some things right.

Comparisons to Transformers are unfair. Battleship is much more enjoyable than any of the Transformers film. This is almost certainly due to the fact that Battleship embraces the cheese factor and makes no excuses for it. It also manages to pull of its comedic scenes whereas this was one of Transformers most dismal areas of failure. Kitsch makes for a charismatic lead who excels at bringing both a physical presence and comedic charm to the screen. The first half of the film focuses on his failures before pulling the old switcheroo and transforming him from zero to hero. Sure, this is nothing groundbreaking but director Peter Berg (Hancock) did a great job of implementing such a noticeable tempo shift to a tee. 

Particular moments in the film are utterly cringe-worthy although instead of leaving me disgusted I couldn't help but laugh. At times, the focus on how super awesome the navy is made the film feel like a 120 minute recruitment video. One particular scene with a Navy Seal stating "You ready to play with the big boys, son?" would have been just as at home in Top Gun or Transformers 2. One such moment, although not enticing me into the military, was the introduction of Col. Gregory D. Gadson of the US Army. In the film, Gadson plays an ex-serviceman who lost both his legs on a tour of duty. In real life, Gadson is a highly decorated member of the US Army who lost both his legs during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007. His acting skills may not be of the highest calibre but that can be forgiven considering his achievements and accomplishments in real life combat situations. Although it may seem kitsch to see an Army officer with no legs kicking arse, this man is the living embodiment of heart as he is currently attached to the US Army Wounded Warrior Program which assists severely wounded servicemen and women. His inclusion actually brought an honesty to the film... apart from the scene where he chokes out an alien with his prosthesis. 

Battleship certainly isn't a great film, but it is entertaining and at the end of the day if a film entertains it has performed its core function. It may do so many things wrong but the one thing it does well is entertain, and that is what I pay my money for. The action scenes are ludicrously over the top and utterly unbelievable which is all the more reason to see it on a big screen with some big sound. It's a popcorn film which is quite happy being so and in embracing its lot in life, Battleship manages to be a surprisingly fun film. This would be the perfect film to see with a couple of mates, a plate of chips and gravy and a couple of beers. Because, we are MEN!

Battleship is in Australian cinemas from today.


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