Film Review: BATTLESHIP
Peter Berg accomplishes an impossible feat- making a film that's so terrible it's incredible.
Every year at the box office, movie-goers are treated to one film that’s sole job is to entertain the people who paid to watch it by providing two hours of explosions. There’s usually no story, bad acting, and dialogue that looks like it’s been written by someone who’s being held in a cage and desperately wants to go home. Traditionally, these films follow a recipe for success and include one of the following elements: transforming robot-vehicles, aliens, buildings being demolished, superheroes, and the US Forces blowing stuff up. This summer, however, director Peter Berg’s Battleship has come along to change up the formula. That’s right; instead of just including one of the above elements…Battleship utilizes the hell out of every single one.
Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgard, and Liam Neeson as sailors with the US Navy (which is interesting since not one of these people are American) who have to stop an incoming Alien attack all the while being trapped on the Pacific Ocean with no place to run. After that initial setup, the rest of the story doesn’t matter since I’m almost positive that there wasn’t one anyway. All you need to know is that there is a Battleship in this movie, and that said Battleship fights aliens. There are also rockets, fiery alien missile projectiles, and weird flying, spinning orbs of incredibly loud, bass-y terror.
In Battleship, there’s so much to hate. If you were to spool out the film reel and throw a dart anywhere along its over two hour running time, you are guaranteed to find something that is awful. From terrible clichéd lines to arbitrary shots of things that have nothing to do with the movie, Battleship fails as an exercise in filmmaking as well as an exercise in just about everything else. If you don’t sigh and put your face in your palm every five minutes during Battleship, you aren’t watching close enough.
But; and this is a big but. In Battleship, there is just so, so, so much to love. Every aspect of this movie is crafted from the fact that it’s based on a board game. You know what you’re getting into when you sit down. If Peter Berg was trying to make a movie that is essentially an incredibly fun parody of itself, he has succeeded wildly. Battleship is fun, loud, innovative, and features some of the best special effects and action of any movie to date. The nonstop action is relentless and refuses to stop for anything — except for the very out of place AC/DC montage in the middle of tens of thousands of people dying.
And speaking of things that are out of place, judging by audience reaction in the screening that I saw, Battleship is the breakout comedy of the summer. From the opening scene, where a very well directed sci-fi scene immediately and very harshly cuts to a loud rock song and wholly unrelated scene, the audience was almost literally rolling in the aisles with laughter. When the climax came up and the big line of dialogue that was meant to kick off the final action scene was said, it was impossible to hear what came next since the laughter didn’t stop for almost a full minute. And right at the very end, when a very swift and nonsensical resolution wraps up the film and the credits say, “Based on the classic Hasbro naval combat game,” it’s next to impossible to think of a time when you have heard an entire theatre laugh so thoroughly at something that was meant to be fully taken seriously.
It’s not that Battleship is so bad that it’s good, it’s that it’s so good that it’s bad and then that bad makes it good again in a bad/good, badly good way. It’s a weird thing that doesn’t usually happen in Hollywood, and it will probably leave most people sitting in their seats at the end of the film wondering what just happened.
But despite gaping holes in the plot and resolution of the film, Battleship really is worth seeing. It’s worth seeing not only to see how bad it is, but also to see how incredibly good it is at the same time.
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