Now, let me be very clear. I wanted to hate this movie. I thought it looked ridiculous, the fact that they’ve incorporated aliens felt like a stupid move, and I probably posted a dozen Facebook statuses about how it would be the worst movie in the history of ever.
I was pleasantly surprised however.
The basic premise is that Alex Hopper (played by John Carter‘s Taylor Kitsch) is a guy who can’t do anything right and has basically hit rock bottom when he’s recruited into the Navy by his brother Stone (played by True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard). Well, soon after this, all Hell breaks loose as aliens invade Earth. They create a forcefield around their main ships and conviently our heroes as well, so the Hopper brothers are the only hope Earth has.
Liam Neeson stars as the tough commander who just happens to have a beautiful daughter that Alex Hopper (Kitsch) wants to marry but her father won’t give permission because he’s such a screwup.
The plot is predictable from the get-go but that doesn’t mean the ride isn’t enjoyable.
Kitsch is strong as the lead, though he doesn’t have to try too hard, as this is the same basic character he played in John Carter (review here). Skarsgard is also believable (for the most part) as the older Hopper brother, though there’s a few scenes where he tries to be the stereotypical commanding officer figure and it comes off as funny, which I doubt was intentional.
A surprising highlight for me was newcomer Gregory Gadson. Gadson is a real-life current servicemember and bilateral above-the-knee amputee. He plays a character very similar to himself, who struggles with keeping hope alive after such a traumatic injury. He’s not an actor but his role was one of the most believable. And there was an incredible moment in the film’s climax that he actually gets into the fray and it’s pretty amazing.
Like I said in the intro, I wanted to dislike this movie. But it was the epitome of a summer blockbuster and it entertained me for sure. There were moments I couldn’t help from smiling. And I laughed a lot, too, as the movie was much funnier (in a clever way) than I was expecting. And the visual effects, however ridiculous the scenarios were, were pretty impressive.
One of my main complaints before seeing the movie is that I couldn’t see any sort of connection to the board game. Well, in all reality, it does make sense. For some reason the alien ships don’t show up on radar but you can see them through the periscope. So, they have to guess where the ships are/will be when they fire. It actually works out and those particular battles are some of the most impressive moments in the film.
In general, the action scenes are pretty incredible and this definitely satisfies if you’re looking for aTransformers-esque summer movie.
What doesn’t work?
While Kitsch is strong, his romantic interest is as flat as a piece of paper in terms of emotion. Brooklyn Decker, who’s only recently moved to acting from modeling, is completely uncharismatic. I don’t see what Kitsch’s Alex Hopper sees in her. Luckily, she is with the above-mentioned Gregory Gadson for most of the film, and he carries the emotional throughline.
The movie is ridiculously predictable, but so are plenty of films in this genre. Bad guy wants the marry the girl but Dad doesn’t like him. Aliens invade. You can probably guess what happens next. The movie also features lots of cool action setpieces and explosions, but none of them are things we haven’t really seen before. But it still does them well. Just don’t expect anything new and you’ll likely enjoy the film.
If you’ve already seen The Avengers and you’re looking for something action-packed, Battleship will likely do the trick. Don’t expect greatness, don’t even expect anything awesome. But you’ll be surprised how much you might learn to like these characters (even Rihanna isn’t entirely horrible) and how much you enjoy the adventure. I won’t judge you if you’re hesitant and decide to wait for it to come out on DVD, but I’d definitely remember this one when you’re looking for something to waste a Friday night on.