This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 15th April 2012
Since the producers of Battleship presumably knocked up the concept for the movie on the back of a Nicotinell packet, let’s take a similar tack.
Story: having run out of childhood fairy tales to mangle and clearly not wanting to stray into “indie” territory by having an original thought, the premise for the film is taken (with liberties) from the strategy game that originated, albeit on paper, in the 1930s. In the movie, the US and Japanese navies are about to engage in some good-natured war games exercise on the high seas around Hawaii, for old times’ sake, when suddenly an alien spacecraft plummets to earth and threatens the lives of every mortal.
Cast: John Carter hadn’t yet been released and received its critical panning, so the cast is helmed by JC hero Taylor Kitsch. It will take Tarantino to resurrect his career after this. For luck, Kitsch’s naval commander brother is the usually wonderful Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood and Melancholia)
Yet, as it turns out, the best things about this film are two supporting actors: New Zealander John Tui, making a terrific foray into Hollywood from a career in television here, and pop singer Rihanna as the feisty, token female naval officer, Raikes.
Their lines may be stock-standard, their characters necessarily one-dimensional, but both do a fantastic job and provide the most watchable moments.
Direction: Peter Berg, who had a respectable acting career in the likes of Chicago Hope for many years before he turned to directing The Kingdom (good) and Hancock (not so much), produced and directed this film, which was a terribly disappointing revelation as the credits rolled.
Even the bombast of McG and Michael Bay would have provided more innovative entertainment. However, instead Berg seems to have eschewed any notion of making this gritty and exciting, and phoned in his direction from the office.
Battleship makes a great navy recruitment video but a lousy two hours in the cinema.