Battleship Review - RihannaA few years ago we were looking at the very real possibility of a big screen adaptation of every popular board game on the face of the Earth. Ridley Scott was to bring us Monopoly, Ouija is now being turned out as a found footage chiller and we can expect everything from Cluedo to Snakes and Ladders to heave into our local multiplex before long. Battleship is, if nothing else, first. It’s Transformers-on-Sea they cry and sadly they are right.

Liam Neeson is a grumpy admiral overseeing a bout of Naval war games in Hawaii when aliens take an exploratory radio signal beamed to their planet (in the form of a huge fricking space-spanning laser beam) as an invitation to pop by and invade. Some strange plot convolution causes three ships to be cut off from the rest of the fleet along with three alien ships (imagine angry mechanised turtles and you’re halfway there) and the battle begins. That’s it. For two hours.

There is a perfunctory personal aspect to the relationships with Grumpy Admiral Neeson’s supermodel daughter played by Brooklyn Decker caught up in a tryst with crap seaman Taylor Kitsch who has to convince his superior and potential father-in-law that he has what it takes to be a Naval officer and father of grumpy little grandchildren – no surprises as to how this ends up. As each of the relationships are set up – rival Japanese captain, successful older brother officer type, plucky petty officer with determination and gusto etc – you know exactly how things will play out. Only once does even a modicum of self awareness glimmer through the INCREDIBLY LOUD THINGS happening on screen when a character asks, after a particularly absurd exchange of ‘movie’ dialogue, ”Who talks like that?’ before the moment is lost and we’re beating our chests and marvelling at this long and tediously inane fireworks display once more.

Universal’s marketing made no apology for the fact that the extravagantly expensive film of theirs had its beginnings as a board game, and whether we’ll ever see Monopoly, Candyland or Mouse Trap spin through the Hollywood machine the fact remains that any property is fair game. If there’s an inbuilt audience or, as it is soul-destroyingly called, ‘brand awareness’ then it’s a fair hook to hang a movie on. Set out your stall, gather well known actors to bring in the crowds and then stand back and hope those hours spent hunched over the plastic battlefield have seeped into the general consciousness thus satisfying a nostalgic desire as well as dazzling people with the pretty explosions. This time however it won’t.

Peter Berg’s Battleship wavers between disoriented action movie and outright acceptance of Michael Bay as Lord and Saviour. Taylor Kitsch gives everything to try and win our hearts despite the paper thin character and cut and paste dialogue he and every other character inherits from the last two decades of chest thumping, patriotic cinema. The true crime here is that nothing new is tried and there is no ambition; slow motion photography does not equal drama, the guitar twang of an American rock classic does not endear me to you, switching between the cold dark blue of midnight, the bright burn of dawn and back to a charming subset to suit your want for pretty backgrounds regardless of the actual sequence of events sends signals to me that you don’t trust me to even notice when the day doesn’t run in the correct order.

The audience I saw the film with reacted with disbelieving laughter at the serious moments and with outright incredulity at one particular moment towards the end when the final plan is revealed. The tone is so  uneven that you have no idea if the filmmakers are serious at any time but tongue remains firmly out of cheek and we’re deprived of even a good laugh at the silliness of it all.

Trawling the cinematic oceans with a vast and unfussy net enables you to drag up the clichés you need for those tickboxes, but without a firm hand to filter out the unnecessary bilge you’re doomed to serve up a bloated, witless and hollow mess and that’s what is on offer at your local cinema from tomorrow.

Some of the design is pretty sound, a few moments during the bombastic onslaught of the CG avalanche which constitute the set pieces were quite fun but for all the skill involved, and there is certainly is some behind and before the camera, nothing can save this from being an overlong exercise in contempt for the audience.

As I was walking out I heard two people saying it was good if you switch off your brain. I advise to keep your brain switched on and use it to go and see something good and stem the flow of these reductive nonsense from our cinemas.



  • Pat

    Your review is crap. It was a fun movie.

  • Michael Inman

    Some people like to switch of their brains and chill out with an action flick there is no harm in that far better to do that than sit thru some drivel shoveling political crap down your throat or some period drama that people who watch think they belong to the same social circle.
    Just wish reviewers would take the stick from up their butt and enjoy things for what they are or even better just don’t write a review for the film rather than give it a bad one just because you don’t like it!

  • PEter

    Couldn’t slag agree more. It’s sad what Michael ‘more explosions’ Bay has done to films.

  • jonlyus

     Glad you enjoyed it Pat. The film, not the review obviously.

  • jonlyus

     Glad you enjoyed it Pat. The film, not the review obviously.

  • jonlyus

    Michael,  I’d never not write a review because I didn’t like the film and I would have enjoyed Battleship for what it was if it wasn’t a badly made film. I have no problem with a big, fun movie if it’s well made with a respect for the audience who are paying money to see it. And switching off your brain is not a pre-requisite for enjoying an action film, it’s what people say to excuse bad films. If people switch off their brains then we’ll end up with bad films as no-one will try anymore. Sincerely I hope you like the film and I want people to make up their own minds, brains switched on at all times.

  • Eddie

    treat it like a computer game then the special effects with bond type explosions where bond escapes without a scratch is good but storyline , dialogue and acting are ludicrously unreal . Rihanna should stick to singing

  • Guest

     Nice review, sir. Getting a lot of bad feedback here for slating a poor quality film.
    In my opinion there are 2 types of action films: Those who get the tone and fun factor right, and those who dont.
    A movie doesnt have to have a huge budget and great actors to be a good action film – Machette, for example, played a ‘ridiculous’ tone and reaped the rewards in my eyes.
    Battleship claims to be a serious blockbuster but is performed, directed, and all together displayed, poorly.
    A terrible film should be portrayed as such.
    Keep up the reviews, even the negative ones!

  • Limbo

    Cluedo has already been made. “Clue” starring Tim Curry is brilliant.


  • jonlyus

     I hope you do review it – I’d be very interested to see a positive response to it as I’ve not seen one yet. And on your Hasbro point – just because a film is based on a Hasbro property doesn’t mean it can forgiven for being bad. You ask me what I expected? A decent film. This is not that.

  • Das_Shhep

    Personally if I were you I wouldn’t reply to someone who can’t figure out where the caps lock key is. There’s a very definite risk he believes the film was a WWII documentary or some such.

  • Dave Will

    Why is the reviewer taking abuse and not the studios for churning out another empty, pointless 2 hours of blowing stuff up?

    You guys who have a problem with Jon’s well written overview need to take a step back and see that movies like this sum up everything that is wrong with modern day cinema. Studios need to invest their huge budgets in well written/scripted/acted stories that provide the viewer with an enjoyable escape from reality rather than spending ridiculous amounts of money on securing brand licenses and signing up pop stars.

  • dixy

    Couldn’t agree more. Pretty dumb movie. so happy that i didn’t pay to see this