Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: Battleship

Rating: 12a
Duration: 131 mins

Much like Michael Bay, Peter Berg bastardises the Hasbro name for both filmic and monetary purposes, albeit to a lesser extent with his latest big budgeted film, Battleship. It may be early on in the year for said blockbuster types, but at around $200m someone must have been extremely confident that this would appeal to the masses, or simply didn't care once it had been green-lit.

So far, Battleship appears to have done its job; having strolled to the top of the UK box office with ease. However, the way one approaches this film can bare relevance, especially surrounding the 'willingness' factor.

What Berg dishes up is a cheesy, action packed and utterly brainless maritime romp, with the likes of Liam Neeson,  RiRi and John Carter (that's provocative pop princess Rihanna and Taylor Kitsch to you and I) to take us on an epically silly journey.

Whereas the likes of Robocop and Starship Troopers were presented with a whiff of satirical mockery, you'd be seriously tested whether Battleship in fact does the same. Indeed, if this is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek take on the sci-fi genre, then this oceanic farce really hits the spot: the goofy lines and character actions are, at times, hilarious as viewing it as self parody will generate a lot of laughter throughout.

However, the other (and probable) perception is that this is a genuine attempt to make a serious film, which is a somewhat disturbing notion indeed. Surely an entire cast and crew can't make such a laughably daft movie and not see right through its paper-thin nothingness, or can they?

There's a very basic plot in that a fleet of ships, headed by Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), are out conducting naval training exercises when a series of objects fall from space and crash into the ocean. Navy wild man Alex (Kitsch), is heavily involved alongside Raikes (Rihanna) in taking down whatever hostilities come their way. Suffice to say that shit hits the fan once they boisterously begin to poke around.

RiRi screams constantly when holding a massive weapon
Using the term 'heavily involved' for these two characters is no understatement, either. Alex and Raikes are not only overtly placed as the film's heroes, but astonishingly they can do pretty much anything that needs to be done: from operating everything aboard the entire ship, to their impeccable hand-to-hand combat, to precise weapons training, to superior intelligence (debatable); the pair put past all-action champions like Arnie and Van Damme to utter shame. Again, this makes for some entertaining viewing as we see there's literally nothing these characters cannot do (besides act).

Another fantastic addition is the use of product placement. These completely random shots that separate some action sequences are priceless. Take for example a scene of destruction: we cut to a shot of a young girl holding a drink from Subway towards the camera, before we simply cut back to the action. Brilliant stuff.

Mr. Kitsch showing off the ship's additional gun
Regardless how you read Battleship, one thing is for sure: it's a bad film. But look beyond this and will yourself to believe it is meant to be like that, and you'll take something completely different from it. Surprisingly the 131 minute running time doesn't drag, which is a credit to the movie.

VERDICT: To summarise: Battleship is loud, dumb and utterly brainless. If you approach it thinking that it is intentionally mocking itself in the most subtle of pastiches, then you're likely to happily embrace and enjoy the experience.

N.B. If you're insistent on a serious, straight-up critique, then minus a star. However, look at it in the vein of Paul Verhoeven and you'll laugh your way through this comical farce with great pleasure; in which case, add one on.