Film Review: Battleship (2012)

Surely everyone has played it at some point or another. If you haven’t played it, then surely you’ve seen people play it, or heard it referenced across popular culture. “You sunk my battleship” is a catchcry echoed from the multitudinous mouths of children (and adults) across the world.

Now Hasbro have teamed together with Universal Pictures to bring their board game Battleship to the silver screen. How, one may ask, does a studio go about adapting a board game to the big screen? Several have pondered said question, and the answer is so predictable that you can smell it a mile off. That answer would involve aliens thanks to Red screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber.

Brothers Alex (Taylor Kitsch) and Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) are both part of the naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. Stone is the hero, and Alex is a feeble bad-boy with the pretty blonde girlfriend Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) whose father is the admiral (Liam Neeson). Meanwhile, scientists have recently discovered an analogous planet existing in the solar system and have imaginatively named it Planet G. Syphoning down five intergalactic ships, the alien inhabitants attempt to set up a power source in the Pacific Ocean. Conveniently, the aliens see metal as an antagonist (as opposed to humans who are in the clear) and attack appropriately. Enlisting the help of Japanese naval officers, — and his team, including Raikes (pop star Rihanna in her feature film debut), set up a grid like system that allows them to bomb the vessels in the style of the board game.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in making Battleship look like a typical Hollywood CGI blockbuster. And it is just that, thanks to Peter Berg’s appropriate handling of the material. Sound constantly pierces and special effects continually light up the screen by exploding ships left, right and centre. There’s no doubt that spectacle and sensation is paramount to the film’s alluring aesthetic. Seeing frequent explosions and buildings collapse engages an audience in collective reminiscent memories of similar occurrences, both fictional and factual. Matching real life events to fictional Hollywood action sequences, such as the bomb of Pearl Harbor and terrorist attacks of 9/11, resonate in a much more complicated way and the effect is not lost within Battleship.

Hyper masculinity exists through the hard-bodied, lead character’s heroic actions (and Kitsch’s vocal tone] and the prevailing dominating spirit of American patriotic fervour unsurprisingly gathers the notion: USA! USA! USA! Ultimately, Battleship entertains on spectacle level with the narrative and multi-layered performances taking the back seat.

Battleship will be theatrically released in Australia on 12 April through Universal Pictures.

2.5 blergs

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