War on the Sea Grid


18 May 2012| 2 Comments on Battleship     by Sean Chavel


Even to my surprise, I am willing to give this an endorsement. Battleship is stupid-fun in the tradition, of say, “Starship Troopers.” The alien invaders are given more strategic creativity and advanced arsenal than we see in most blow ’em up sci-fi / action pics. The aliens, who are unmasked eventually, have missiles that work like sticky bombs, and huge buzz-saws that operate on cylinders. Heroic Naval figures across the board make gee-whiz pronouncements “Please tell me this is just a training exercise” or gung-ho “We shot ’em down, Captain” celebration quips. In terms of popcorn entertainment, this is an effective let’s teach the ugly enemy a lesson blast.

It’s got far more human-relatable humor than the “Transformers” series, and it’s not just all noise. Michael Bay, director of “Transformers,” could actually learn something from “Battleship’s” Peter Berg who demonstrates you don’t need a bunch of fast edits to wow an audience. There is strategy, compass of direction, and hovering above the arrangement at play. Berg previously made the high school football saga “Friday Night Lights” (2004).

It actually starts out with, uh, lots of comedy. We meet the hapless, indolent Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, “John Carter”) celebrating his lonesome birthday at a bar. He’s the kind of guy with 64 dollars to his name but all the willing to go plow down cash to buy the pretty girl Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) a burrito because she’s hungry. His bungling attempt to fetch a burrito for her are disastrous, and it’s a preposterous revelation that five years later this reckless nobody has a high ranking position in the Navy. Of course, he had the help of two inside contacts to get him that job.

Alex’s highly esteemed brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgaard), a high-ranking officer, is the key catalyst that helped him get the job. And as it turns out, Samantha is the daughter of the Navy Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), who stands very unimpressed by his daughter’s suitor. This is all the set-up of the obligatory junky melodrama, shamelessly amusing it is. It is at this point when the the aliens hail across the galaxy, via special effects that compare more to the accomplished Robert Zemeckis film “Contact” (1997) than to any hyperkinetic Michael Bay “Transformers” movie. They land off the Hawaiian Pacific, and wait until provoked to fire their mustard of munitions at us.

I’m not going to be the hasty one that says that “Battleship” is rich in character development. That’s overstating it, but I will say that it has the decently nominal amount of character dimension needed for a movie like this. Neeson is stoic as he always is, more terse than usual (perhaps he’s off between takes learning his lines for the upcoming “Taken 2.”) Skarsgaard is one of the best young actors today, as seen in “Straw Dogs” and “Melancholia,” but simply isn’t given much to do other than project command stateliness. Kitsch rises above the pressure for what the hero role calls for. Then there is Rihanna (the singer makes her acting debut, let’s give her a silver ribbon), with her short-cropped hair, is dependably energetic and tough, and she rallies the boys when the boys aren’t acting man enough.

The excitement is fast and silly, without it being abrasively non-stop. The writing comes up with whatever phooey it needs to explain why the Air Force doesn’t just go nuke the sea-harboring aliens (they’ve created a force field). You may find yourself laughing at the movie, while cheering minutes later rowdily to let’s kick some alien butt.

130 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “The Abyss” (1989); “Independence Day” (1996); “Starship Troopers” (1997); “Armageddon” (1998).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are 2 Comments about this post

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    mrwonderful says,


    A typical FX laden movie that has been engineered to be easily digestible for the masses. Its a one size fits all pop corn movie aimed to please. If the acting and action is good enough… then it floats my boat…or uh, battleship.


    on May 21, 2012


    soulreaver99 says,


    Wow you actually gave this movie 3 stars? That’s quite generous considering that this feels like it’s been slapped together with a bunch of special effects from transformers and cliches of a brainless action film trying to be too epic. Sure it has some good ideas but it’s too half backed of a movie to be a summer blockbuster. Oh wait, Avengers already achieved that.


    on May 21, 2012


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