“H-7. Hit. B-7. Miss. H-8. Hit. You sunk my Battleship!”
If you grew up in the 1970s you remember the television commercial about the two old men playing “Battleship” while attending the opera. I certainly played it enough in my time (though I will admit here that I often cheated, stating “Miss” when in reality my mine sweeper should have been heading to the bottom of the ocean). Now, from Hasbro, the toy company that gave you such films as “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” (as well as their sequels), comes “Battleship.”
2005. A planet almost identical in location from its sun as Earth is discovered in a far away galaxy. Hoping to learn more about it, our government builds a transmission station and the next year sends a radio beacon into space, hoping to reach the planet. The project is called, simply, the Beacon Project. As the beam heads skyward, we are introduced to Alex Hopper (Kitsch), a slacker in every sense of the word. Alex currently lives on the couch in the home owned by his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard), a commander in the U.S. Navy. Another of his apparently frequent run-ins with the law cause Stone to lay the law down, demanding Alex make something of his life by joining him in the Navy. Aye-aye, sir!
Over the top in every way, “Battleship” is two-plus hours of explosions in what is really a mash-up of “Independence Day,” “Transformers,” “Signs” and “Power Rangers.” But, not necessarily in a good way. The film starts off promisingly, with Alex going above and beyond to obtain a snack for the pretty daughter (Decker) of a Navy admiral (Neeson). But then things begin to unravel. In what seems like a day (no transitional scenes) Alex is now a naval officer stationed in Hawaii. He is also part of a soccer team that plays the sailors of the Japanese navy who are visiting Pearl Harbor to take part in a training exercise and attend a dedication to the battleship U.S.S. Missouri. Good point? I’m going to say “no.” Because I know that if I were a naval veteran at Pearl Harbor the last thing I want to see is the Japanese navy! Anyway, during the game Alex gets in an altercation with a Japanese player. Apparently that’s a bad thing because, as Alex heads out to sea on his training exercise he’s informed that “JAG” is probably going to kick him out of the Navy. Really? Without a trial? Is Alex in the RUSSIAN navy?
On the slight “plus” side of the film, the special effects are first rate though, like “Transformers 2,” they are eventually almost a blur because of the films’ dependence on them. The cast does its best with what it was given. Kitsch is a likable actor who’s two biggest roles (here and this past spring entry “John Carter”) have pitted him against special effects. He needs to find a role that lets him achieve the performances he reached on “Friday Night Lights.” And hopefully avoid his agent’s phone call when the ultimate Hasbro movie, “Lincoln Logs vs Tinkertoys,” is being cast!
Extras: trailer for the video game.