When Hollywood takes an old board game and turns it into a blockbuster, you know they are running out of ideas. But credit to them, they do have ideas on how to make a blockbuster. Battleship is loud, dumb, and as charitable a phrase to describe a blockbuster that is loud and dumb - it is 'a visual spectacle'.
And indeed it is. Director Peter Berg, who has always wanted to make a naval action picture, gets his wish as he helms this expensive project aimed at the crowd who adored the 'Transformers' trilogy. In other words, this will make more money than John Carter (2012).
A familiar face from John Carter appears in Battleship. He is Taylor Kitsch, who plays the lead in both movies. In Berg's film, he is joined by popular singer Rihanna, who makes a decent feature film debut, Alexander Skarsgard as his onscreen brother, Brooklyn Decker as his lover (and who also plays the requisite 'Megan Fox' role, albeit one with more brains)... And of course Liam Neeson, who in recent years seems like he is in every other movie punching the living daylights out of an assortment of people and animals in various weather conditions.
Berg's direction is considerably sound. He knows how to film action. And when I say he knows how to film action, I mean that we are able to comprehend the mayhem that unfolds on the big screen.
Wide shots and constant editing back and forth among characters at different locations (or ships) help to establish who's at where at a given time. Though I must say that Berg does indulge in lots of explosions, in a 'Battleberg v. Battlebay' contest to see who can blow up more things in an action movie.
No one goes to see a movie titled Battleship to be enlightened by the nuances of its screenplay, which tells a predictable aliens versus humans struggle. The humans have their Destroyers and Battleships on their side, and their motivation is to protect the seas of Earth.
The aliens however seem hell bent in trying to phone home. But what for? Are they lost? Are they calling for reinforcements? Maybe the most head scratching question would be: Why did they come here in the first place? All these are not answered, and it's not supposed to be a thought-provoking film.
To be honest, although Battleship is dumb, it is smarter than you think. True to the tradition of the board game, there are certain action sequences that make use of slightly modified hide-and-seek strategies that are employed in the board game. And the climatic sequence is all about strategy.
Battleship will appease moviegoers looking for 'a visual spectacle', though it is a prelude to better things to come in the next few months. It is also a prelude to other board game movies coming up. Last I heard and I'm ain't kidding, there might be a 'Monopoly' movie. There might also be 'Lego: The Movie'. Well, it's technically not a board game, but cinematically I think you get what I mean.