Thinking of seeing Battleship this weekend? Do yourself a favor and go see The Avengers, again if you have to; Battleship gets literally everything wrong and fails to serve up even guilty pleasure entertainment. Between the perpetuation of the “movie adaptations of toy lines” trend, the continued sinking of Taylor Kitsch’s status as a leading man, and wholly disingenuous military worship, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Battleship goes wrong, but maybe the only takeaway that matters is that the film goes off the rails really early and never hops back on. Get my full thoughts over at Go, See, Talk!.
Good review over at GST. Sometimes I think big empty-headed special effects extravaganzas work better with as little plot as possible. Think of how the goofy romantic triangle got in the way of watching the Japanese bomb the ships in “Pearl Harbor,” or how the utterly unimportant story of Shia LeBeouf moaning about wanting a car was in “Transformers.” Just get to the action or make the movie about something else with the action as a backdrop (like “Titanic”). If a movie is about robots punching each other or aliens blowing things up, then give us that and make it fun without trying to shoehorn in some lame character plot that no one cares about.
By the way, Michael Bay didn’t have anything to do with the “G.I. Joe” movies. The first was directed by Stephen Sommers, who is a Michael Bay wannabe, the one responsible for the first two “Mummy” movies. Ugh.
I know Sommers is responsible for G.I. Joe, but Bay bears indirect responsibility for making that film a reality thanks to Transformers. When Stretch Armstrong ends up in theaters, we’ll all know who to blame even if he has nothing to do with the project himself.
And I agree, Jamie– movies like this should be streamlined. But they also need to have something present that makes us care about the mayhem we’re witnessing. Big FX bonanzas with more heart than brains don’t need to be character studies or displays of masterful plotting, but they need to get us invested so that we can empathize with the people involved in the spectacle. Otherwise it’s just noise for the sake of noise. Battleship ends up as exactly that. It’s horrendous.
Yeah, I agree. It’s the lame attempts at characterization that annoy me. Either tell a compelling story, or give us the spectacle. “Transformers” would have been so much better without the humans! One of the great things about “The Avengers” is that the characters are specific and enjoyable, and there’s just enough back story to give them motivation. In “Jurassic Park,” we knew that Alan Grant was focused on digging up bones and had no use for kids, so it was endearing when he had to protect the children from the dinos. If they had gone into depth with why he spent his life doing what he does and why he has such a dislike for young people, it would have been annoying. The alternative is (gasp) actually constructing a story about real human beings who the audience can relate to with problems that drive the story, working naturally into the conflict that provides a natural reason for the big effects.
By the way, I blame Michael Bay on all the problems of the world.
Don’t we all.
You’re totally spot on, by the way, about the tenets of characterization. There is such a thing as too much, especially when the goal of your movie is to dazzle with big spectacle. I think in the case of Battleship the very premise of Alex Hopper is completely overwrought; I don’t care that he stole a chicken burrito to win his lady love’s affections. I care more about what a useless punk he is than anything else, and I still feel the same way about him by the end of the movie.
Reading your review has solidified my stance on Battleship. I love Liam Neeson as an actor but man, I just can’t bring myself to possibly enjoy this horrible mockery of one of my favorite childhood board games. It just makes no sense. Why not call this movie anything else, why Battleship? The purpose of Battleship was as a strategy and memory recall game. There were no aliens or sinister plot that I was aware of. It was just me besting my fellow man(or older brother) in high seas action.
Why couldn’t they have just made a simple WWII-esque movie with two naval fleets that duke it out. Add some intrigue by sabotaging one fleet or something and have the lone surviving battleship on a revenge quest hunt down the other fleet one by one or something. I don’t know, anything but aliens though! But really, this movie just angers me every time I see something related to it.
Honestly, I don’t get the introduction of the aliens, either, unless Berg is trying to make some kind of commentary on war– specifically the conflict in Iraq, I’ll concede that that’s entirely possible, but underlying commentary doesn’t make a stupid movie any smarter. Such is the case with Battleship.
And I’m with you– just put two naval fleets in opposition to one another and let them duke it out. That would have been a better starting point. Ultimately the setting and the scenario leads the film to take itself far too literally, and so we get those absolutely idiotic callbacks to the game, which don’t work on screen in the slightest.
I think we could have made that same damn joke over and over again on the podcast and it still would have been a totally awesome time.