Peter Berg‘s latest big-budget Hollywood action film Battleship is based on the Hasbro board game and also Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy. Where Bay went big and explosive, Berg goes loud and boring. Battleship is the result of too many Hollywood big shots trying to drain the creative well dry, basing a two hour movie on a strategic board game that most played in their childhood.
The performances aren’t anchored in reality and the action is sometimes creative and expansive, but mostly drowns in its own obnoxious self as Berg tries plugging hot women, patriotism and the basic understanding of doing battle at sea with large ships. There are far worse things than Battleship, but that doesn’t hold it back from being a bonafide sinker.
Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is that brother that just never could get a handle on his future. He wastes his potential away on pretty women and dangerous stunts, just so that he can feel better about himself at the end of the day. The time for acting like a child is up though and his brother Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) pretty much enlists Alex in the Navy. From that point the two cross paths as one brother becomes a successful and honorable man at sea (Stone), while the other continues to get sidetracked by an attractive lady friend and the lack of basic respect towards his peers and higher ups.
There’s not much hope for Alex anymore, because Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) plans on dumping his sorry ass when they dock after a naval exercise with friendly countries.
The exercise starts without much surprise, but then an alien craft comes crashing into the water, blocking several ships from outside contact. This is the beginning of an alien invasion and luckily for America we have our best and brightest at sea to defend us. Alex leads the pack, with Cora Raikes (Rihanna) and a few other sorry sacks stepping in for what we like to call brave soldiers.
It’s a cruel thing knowing that your country (or should I say planet) is being left in the hands of an airhead and his idiot crew members, but we’ve dealt with much worse before… or not?
Anyways, Battleship sounds like a horrible idea for a film and that’s because it is a horrible film, cast with all the wrong stars and given to a director who is known for copying more than creating original content. It may sound kind of harsh and unfair to judge a film like this with such standards, but I’ve seen much more competent filmmakers blow shit up for a living. Those said directors at least had the decency to make their films entertaining and sometimes even breath-taking because of the groundbreaking visual effects.
Battleship has a few rad sequences that might temporarily numb your brain, but those come quick and are almost always immediately followed with flat comedy and atrocious acting. Musician Rihanna steps in for a few minutes to try and act, but she quickly passes the buck to box office bomb Taylor Kitsch. He may have been misjudged in John Carter, but Battleship just isn’t his type of film. His performance is painfully uninteresting and not once does he even look like he understands the material. I’m not sure if this is because Kitsch has finally given up or if Peter Berg didn’t care about the film’s performances as much as his so-called actors.
Alexander Skarsgard and Liam Neeson do their undersized roles justice, but only because they understand just how much of a joke the film really is.
I can’t fully comment on Brooklyn Decker’s performance, because that would require someone that actually attempts to act. Decker simply dresses the part and plants the appropriate kisses when necessary. She still has yet to prove her career title, which is apparently that of an actress?
Battleship harbors interesting alien designs and some great destruction during the beginning half, but almost all of that is cancelled out by Peter Berg’s big and dumb action pieces and the cast’s irritating performances. There’s also an ending bit that is meant to pay tribute to our past soldiers, but ends up feeling more like a full-fledged Navy commercial that barely has anything to do with the film at that particular point. I almost felt bad watching such brave veterans show their face on screen in such an embarrassing film.
Say what you want about the actual film, but Universal’s Battleship Blu-Ray is jaw-dropping. The 1080p transfer is bright and warm and the perfect example of the utmost clarity. There’s not a single second of the film that isn’t soaked with detailed texture like water-drenched alien crafts or sweaty and grimy characters. The CGI stands out too and almost looks as life-like as the real stuff. The alien battleships are flawlessly detailed. Battleship is an eye-popping experience on Blu-Ray.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track continues to shock with a mix that will shake, rattle and rumble the house as you turn it up. Dialogue is extremely crisp and audible on the front channels, while gunfire and missiles come blasting away from the back end. This disc firmly plants you in the middle of a war and doesn’t let go until the closing credits.
Battleship comes with the following bonus material:
- All Access with Director Peter Berg (HD)
- Second Screen Experience
- Alternate Ending Previsualization (HD)
- USS Missouri VIP Tour (HD)
- Preparing for Battle (HD)
- All Hands on Deck: The Crew (HD)
- Engage in Battle (HD)
- Commander Pete (HD)
- The Visual Effects (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Battleship came and went without a bang in theaters and that’s because the film is a very weak entry in the already weak genre of making films based on board games, cartoons and other childhood memories. Peter Berg and co. failed to make it work as a basic popcorn flick because there’s just too much focus on bogus characters and subpar action. The CGI is well-rendered and sometimes creative, but the film’s actual action sequences play out like deleted scenes from Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy, which isn’t a compliment.
Bay at least knows how to put on a show. It may be an empty show with lots of lights and explosions to help keep you distracted from the lack of quality writing, but he knows that. Peter Berg for some reason thinks he’s working on a more sophisticated level, with stale humor constantly trying to make an impression and character relationships that make no sense at all. Berg wastes too much time in areas that don’t really matter for this kind of flick and it makes Battleship a true sinker.
Where Berg’s film lacks in quality, Universal’s Blu-Ray disc makes up for it and then some. Battleship‘s stunning 1080p transfer is a true sight of beauty and the 5.1 lossless audio track is a masterful balance of high-octane action and finely-combed detail. Topping off the one-two punch is a hefty batch of HD-presented bonus features that take you behind the scenes and up close into the production of the film.
I wouldn’t buy Battleship based on the film’s own qualities, but I would strongly suggest a rental. It’s is an obvious disappointment, despite the already low set expectations, but the Blu-Ray’s technical specs makes up for most of the film’s downfalls. That still doesn’t excuse Peter Berg and the entire cast for robbing us of two hours of our time and millions of wasted studio dollars though.
Peter Berg's Battleship is a sinking disaster that rarely stays afloat, but Universal's Blu-Ray disc is a finely tuned presentation that will put your HDTV and surround sound to the test.