When I first heard about Battleship, it sounded like a joke. (And since then I’ve heard the joke about Hungry Hungry Hippos being made into a movie from three different sources.) Then, when I saw the first Battleship trailer… it still looked like a joke. Aliens in the ocean, creating a barrier around Hawaii? Huh?
But I like some of Peter Berg’s other work. (Hancock was pretty good. The Rundown was, too. The Kingdom was great.) So I thought, maybe this’ll be something special. And some of the reviews I read before I went said that I might be right.
Okay, maybe not so much. Battleship is trying to be four things simultaneously. It’s trying to be Independence Day, except it’s not nearly as funny. It’s trying to be Transformers, except the alien ships aren’t nearly as cool as either the Decepticons or the Autobots. It’s trying to be Pearl Harbor, and, okay, it’s way better than that train wreck, but it doesn’t even have one action sequence as awesome as the attack on Pearl in that movie. And it’s trying to be an homage to the board game you loved as a kid. Okay, on that one, they scored. I liked the sequence with the grid, calling out shots to the gunner. It fit into the film and worked dramatically.
But nothing else was that interesting to me. The screw up kid who’s thrust into a position of leadership? I wonder if he’ll come through in the clutch? A legless vet who’s lost the will to fight? I wonder if he’ll show his mettle? (It’s a pun! Get it?!) The hero’s girlfriend’s gruff admiral dad? I wonder if he’ll come to respect our screw-up-turned-leader hero?
There are some funny bits with a scared scientist, and a gag involving The Art of War that made me laugh. But there were too many unexplained things about the aliens. Why did they come to an ocean planet with ships that can only sort of bounce on the water? Why do they look almost exactly human? Why do they rain enormous, indiscriminate destruction from a distance, but when confronted with a single, scared human, they back off? (I guess the filmmakers were trying to be Predator, too. Another failed homage.)
Maybe this was the best movie possible based on this particular game. If so, they probably shouldn’t have bothered.