Battleship is about an alien attack on Earth which is thwarted by US Navy ships. Find out more in the full review.
Rating: (One-and-a-half stars)
Star cast: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Hamish Linklater.
What’s Good: The pre-climax action sequence; the visual effects.
What’s Bad: The unexciting script; the excessive length of the drama; the tepid performances.
Verdict: Battleship is an ordinary fare which will do very limited business at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: Several.
Watch or Not?: Watch it if you like action films. But do not expect much.
Universal Pictures and Hasbro’s Battleship is an action film. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a talented but good-for-nothing young man. Alex’s elder brother, Stone (Alexander Skarsgård), a US Navy officer, forces Alex to enlist in the Navy. But even after joining the Navy as a Lieutenant, Alex does not change his bumbling ways. During an international Naval exercise being held off the coast of Hawaii, Alex gets into a fight with a foreign naval officer, inviting the wrath of his superior, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). Admiral Shane is the father of Sam (Brooklyn Decker), the girl whom Alex is in love with. The Admiral decides to fire Alex at the end of the Naval exercises.
Around the same time, five unidentified objects enter the Earth’s atmosphere. While four of them fall into the Pacific ocean, very close to where the Naval exercises are being held, one falls in Hong Kong, causing massive loss of life and property.
At the highest levels of the US government, the talk is that these alien objects have arrived on Earth as a response to an electromagnetic message that was sent by NASA to a faraway, Earth-like planet as a part of a research project. The satellites, using which the message was sent, are also in Hawaii.
Admiral sends a boat with Alex, Petty Officer Second Class Cora Raikes (Rihanna) and another Naval personnel (John Tui) to check out the objects (a part of which is floating on the sea bed). When Alex mounts the alien object, it gets activated. Soon, three alien warships emerge and build a semi-spherical protective force field around itself. This field does not allow any object or communication to enter or exit it. In effect, three ships close to the alien object – the one’s manned by Alex Hooper, Stone Hooper and Japanese Commanding Officer Captain Yugi Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) – are left to fight with the three alien ships.
In the fight that ensues, the alien warships have the upper hand with their advanced weaponry. How Alex, who has so far failed to prove himself as a good human being or a good naval officer, manages to push the aliens back, is what the rest of the film is about.
Battleship Review: Script Analysis
Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber’s story is ordinary, especially when compared to the half-a-dozen alien invasion films that have been made in Hollywood over the last couple of years. Also the screenplay writers have not taken their craft too seriously. This fact is evident from the first scene of the film, where the hero is shown to be celebrating a pointless birthday. If the film is about the hero’s triumph over his own carefree nature, the latter part of the drama does not justify this transition. If the film is about an alien invasion from an Earth-like planet (to be sure, the aliens do look a lot like humans wearing Iron Man suits), there is not enough meat in the screenplay to excite the viewer.
So all we are left with is a medley of loud and mindless action sequences where human naval ships are battling against the far advanced alien warships. This part too, might have been conceptualised much better. Plus, the rather long running time of the narrative and the insipid dialogues only end up boring the audience further.
What works, to a limited extent, is the action sequence in the pre-climax, where one witnesses a clever manouvre from the Japanese Captain and Alex Hooper.
Battleship Review: Star Performances
Taylor Kitsch’s performance and characterisation as the leading man are letdowns. Liam Neeson has nothing to do but growl angrily in his brief role. Rihanna, as Cora Raikes, gets some screen space but cannot act or emote adequately. Alexander Skarsgård disappoints as Stone Hopper. Brooklyn Decker, as Sam, has nothing to do. Hamish Linklater, as scientist Cal Zapata, makes the audience laugh. U.S. Army Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, a battalion leader who lost both legs in Iraq in 2007, is fine as Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales. Jesse Plemons, Peter MacNicol, John Tui and others offer average support.
Battleship Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Peter Berg’s direction tries to make something out of the weak script but fails. Steve Jablonsky’s background score is loud. Tobias A. Schliessler’s cinematography is effective. Neil Spisak’s production design is fine. The visual effects are excellent. Editing, by Colby Parker Jr., Billy Rich and Paul Rubell, is shoddy.
Battleship Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Battleship is a disappointing fare. It will lose the box-office battle in India.