Dir. Peter Berg, US, 2012, 131 mins
Review by Dan Collacott
In Peter Berg’s water based invasion movie those pesky scientists have unwittingly beckoned some unbelievably badass, yet hostile aliens to Earth via a deep space signal. The interstellar ‘hello’ was intended to reach out to a newly discovered Earth-like ‘Goldilocks’ planet. “If aliens come here, it’ll be like Columbus discovering America, and we’re the Indians,” moans scientist Cal (Hamish Linklater) the film’s only character capable of delivering a bit of (intentional) wit and irony into proceedings.
The newly invited lizard-eyed semi-humanoid Halo fans land in the Hawaiian ocean, gate crashing an international naval exercise conducted by Japanand America in the process. The aliens erect an impenetrable shield around themselves and strand some of the naval fleet inside with them, whilst some of their number attempt to call in back up ‘using our own satellites against us!’ (Ok, so that line is from Independence Day). Then follows lots of horrendous dialogue, awesome CGI and cheesy heroics. There is also a subplot with an amputee soldier, the aforementioned wise-cracking scientist and the shampoo commercial love interest thrown in. The unlikely trio have to stop ‘ET from phoning home’ (yep that line is in there) by sabotaging the communication attempts of the aliens.
The audience around me laughed in all the wrong places and at some of the most incredulous set pieces ever committed to celluloid. Then I realised that maybe you are actually meant to laugh at the dialogue and acting by numbers, maybe there really is irony in there. In truth, I think it was only when I had stopped trying to analyse the daft moments, silly dialogue and even sillier action sequences, that I truly started to have fun with the film. Taylor Kitsch without his John Carter wig was surprisingly good as the redemption seeking hero Alex Hopper, Rihanna was delightfully unnecessary as ‘woman underdog with attitude – who does good’ and the live action Battleship board game nod was genius, although not as genius as the staggeringly hilarious Dad’s Army moment towards the end.
The alien tech is Transformers meets spacecraft on water; in fact the whole feel of the movie makes you think that Berg is a robot version of Michael Bay in disguise. The whole thing is like the guilty pleasure film equivalent of WWE, except the men in tights are replaced by war-ships and old men. If you like big, dumb, loud and visually impressive action nonsense, with gruff cameos from Liam Neeson, then this film is one for you; if you prefer subtlety and giving your mind a work out then you’re better off with a Sudoku puzzle and a few episodes of Sherlock.
Apple have just launched a new featurette that shows a behind the scenes look at the making of BATTLESHIP: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/universal/battleship/