MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Taylor Kitsch as ALEX HOPPER
Alexander Skarsgård as STONE HOPPER
Rihanna as CORA RAIKES
Brooklyn Decker as SAM
Liam Neeson as ADMIRAL SHANE
Directed by: Peter Berg
BY KEVIN CARR
One of the best things I can say about Peter Berg’s unbelievably ridiculous board-game adaptation “Battleship” is that it’s worth another look on home video. Honestly, once you know what you’re getting into, it’s not as bad as you might think (or remember).
“Battleship” was a victim of hubris, both of the concept, the studio, the director and Hollywood in general. It is a quintessential example of over-development. When the trailers first hit, it was a bit of a joke. After all, many of us remember playing the Hasbro game Battleship on rainy Saturday afternoons as kids. However, only those who were taking heavy drugs or altered the game with their Star Wars action figures remember any involvement of aliens.
Then the movie was released overseas, and it was doing mighty well. Some were wondering if it would have a trajectory similar to that of “The Avengers,” which took the movie world by storm. The problem was it had a trajectory more similar to “John Carter,” only in reverse. In that case, the industry knew “John Carter” was a flop before it made some solid cash overseas. “Battleship” was a bomb in a hit’s clothing. It wasn’t until it sank in America and eventually slowed overseas that its true colors were revealed.
Compounded with “John Carter,” it appeared that “Battleship” was suffering from the curse of Taylor Kitsch, whose only moderate hit this year (and that’s being generous) was Oliver Stone’s nonsensical “Savages.” And the only reason “Savages” wasn’t a mega-bomb is that it’s budget wasn’t hundreds of millions of dollars like “John Carter” and “Battleship.”
To this end, Kitsch was part of the problem with “Battleship.” He’s just not a worthy big screen hero. Get him to play a villain, and I’m sure he’d knock it out of the park. Keep him on television in a show like “Friday Night Lights,” and he’ll have his fans. But he just doesn’t have the chops – acting-wise or likeability-wise – to endear an audience to him. He’s no Will Smith, who can star in a shit-storm like “Men in Black III” and still get people all over the world to swoon.
Other major problems with “Battleship” include other cast members. Rihanna, fresh off being beaten by Chris Brown and refusing to quit him, was excruciating in the film. Get her in skimpy clothes and glam her up for a music video, and you can’t take your eyes off her. Expect her to deliver dialogue in military garb, and she’s embarrassing. Plus, with her ghetto delivery of lines, she does nothing to help her image as an ignorant idiot who just loves to be in an abusive relationship. She has no class, and this film reveals it.
The only decent actor in the whole of “Battleship” is Liam Neeson, who phones in what little lines he has, is only in a handful of scenes. This leaves Brooklyn Decker, and she’s passable. But take away those enormous breasts, and she’s boring. But at least she’s not abrasive like Kitsch or pathetically stupid like Rihanna.
When I saw “Battleship” in the theaters, I was severely underwhelmed. Sure, there were some cool action moments, but there was so much nonsense to wade through in the film that it was a chore to sit through. Watching it again at home yielded better results. The film looks fantastic on Blu-ray, and it’s only worth watching for its action set pieces.
All the goofy dialogue and the exhausting first 40 minutes of non-plot that takes place before the aliens show up can be dismissed with a simple press of a button. Watch the movie for its spectacle and nothing else. That lets it be slightly enjoyable and at least worth a rental.
The Blu-ray comes with a nice selection of bonus features including the Blu-ray exclusives of an alternate ending previsualization and the featurettes “The Visual Effects of Battleship,” “USS Missouri VIP Tour” and “Commander Pete.” The best Blu-ray feature is the “All Access with Director Peter Berg” feature-length embedded material.
Additional bonus features also available on the enclosed DVD include the featurettes “Preparing for Battle,” “All Hands on Deck: The Cast” and “Engage in Battle: Shooting at Sea All Aboard the Fleet.” The Blu-ray also includes Digital Copy and UltraViolet capabilities.