Sunday, April 22, 2012

Battleship ★ ★

Its a hit and miss film 

Release Dates
April, 2012 UK 11th April, 2012 USA 18th May, 2012
Other Countries Release Dates

Hollywood is casting its net everywhere for film ideas these days.  Decades ago film studios only had books and imagination to draw upon when creating science fiction invasions of our planet. The 1951 film ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, on our low tech black and white TV, without computer-animation technology, created a frightening vision of an alien invasion with only a lone alien and his robot.
           When the peaceful intergalactic emissary, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), is shot, his robot Gort vaporizes the surrounding weaponry.  The image of the robot’s glowing eye slot scanning a New York park was truly creepy.
Nowadays, moviemakers can pull ideas from not just books but TV shows, video games and, of course lately, board games and toys and execute them with breathtaking realism.  With the 'Transformers' franchise proving such a big hit, it makes perfect sense for Hasbro to pull out from the cupboard all its games and check their viability as a film.
The idea of creating a film from the unimaginative game of Battleship is intriguing.  How they insert the square coding calls into the film is actually clever.  And whilst clearly not aiming for a storyline they certainly hit a few marks with the action. 
Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is always in trouble, much to the consternation of his big brother and naval officer, Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård).  When Alex meets physiotherapist Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) he again ends up in strife by breaking into a min-mart in attempt to get her a snack .  Well young love does cause you to do stupid things.  The only answer according to his brother is to enlist in the Navy.
By the time he has moved up the navy ranks, he and Samantha want to marry but first he must ask the permission of her Father, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson).  This permission asking is going to occur whilst on naval exercises off Hawaii.  Go figure on the timing.  But two things go wrong, Alex is in trouble again and Aliens pick that moment to invade the Earth.

The rest of the film is a version of ‘Transformer’s defending the Earth, except this time it is the U.S. and Japanese Navy, and Samantha and double amputee, Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales (Gregory Gadson), attempting to stop the aliens from signaling back to their home planet with directions to Earth for the rest of the invasion team.  Why they didn’t travel together is never explained.
We get a good look at the aliens, clad in Iron Man type spacesuits, as they chase Alex’s personnel—which includes superstar Rhianna in her first film role—around their ship.  The spaceships and aliens then play a battleship game of hit and miss in quite spectacular and watery action scenes. 
Director, Peter Berg, who is better known for his acting roles in ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Prime Suspect’ and ‘Chicago Hope’, is clearly a big fan of the Michael Bay whirly destructive robots theme.  He has tremendous fun with these scenes and, I must say, watching a Destroyer destroyed by a big metal whirring wheel thing was quite a treat. As harsh-critic-aged-nine pointed out, the ship went down the same as the Titanic.  So, for future reference, when steering a ship avoid icebergs and metal wheels with lots of sharp gears and orange flames.
If you want a thoughtful film with wonderful acting and a plausible plot, do not target this movie. It misses practically every time the actors open their mouths.  But if you want action, aliens and fun CGI destruction sequences, with no thinking in between, then ‘Battleship’ scores a direct hit.  I rate it a D2.  'D' for dumb script but dazzling effects and 2 for the actual star rating and quantity of credible scenes.  

P.S.  The Day the Earth Stood Still

Alien invasions films would be nothing today without all the whizz bang computer stuff but no matter what they throw at the screen, it can't compare to the dread I felt in the pit of my stomach when I saw that glowing eye slot of Robot Gort.  Keep in mind, I was probably seven at the time. Just for fun, here is the trailer for 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'.