‘Battleship’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 26th, 2014 at 7:30 pm,

battleship movie review Battleship Review

Battleship is a movie that is enjoyable beyond expectation, but doesn’t offer much more than the fast-food-style fun of a summer movie spectacle.

Let’s just get this out of the way up front: Battleship the movie has little to do with the Hasbro board game that it is based on – other than the fact that it involves Naval battle on the high seas. What we get instead is a slice of popcorn summer fun from director Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom); a movie that unabashedly celebrates the valor of the men and women of the armed forces.

The story revolves around Alex Hopper (John Carter star Taylor Kitsch), a smart, capable, and totally reckless young man who is chaperoned by his older brother and guardian, Navy Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård). One faithful night, while celebrating his birthday in a local bar, Alex meets Sam (Brooklyn Decker), a drop-dead gorgeous girl who wants nothing more than a chicken burrito to fill her stomach. In typical Alex fashion, young Hopper goes to inspired (and reckless) lengths to obtain said burrito; the act of chivalry gets him the girl, but also leaves him facing severe legal consequences. Fed up with caring for an out of control man-child, Stone signs Alex up to join him in the Navy.

Battleship Review starring Taylor Kitsch Brooklyn Decker Rihana Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard Battleship Review

Alex’s intellegence helps him quickly rise to the rank of Lieutenant, but his continued recklessness makes him a boderline liability – and the bane of Admiral Shane’s (Liam Neeson) existence. Compounding the problem is the fact that Admiral Shane is also Sam’s father, and the one thing standing between Alex and Sam getting married. As the Hopper brothers take to the sea on their respective destroyers for the Navy’s annual RIMPAC war game exercises, Alex has two missions: prove himself as an effective commanding officer, and secure Admiral Shane’s blessing for his would-be marriage.

The big twist to the story comes when NASA’s probe of distant planets similiar to Earth turns up an unexpected (an unwelcome) response. Without warning, a fleet of extraterrestrial spaceships come crashing into Earth’s atomsphere, damaging their communications equipment along the way. The ships land in the Pacific with a clear military objective in mind: seize the NASA satellite that first contacted them in order to send an invasion order back to their planet. The aliens raise an energy dome over the area to keep out any opposition, trapping Alex, Stone, Sam, and a handful of other military and/or NASA personnel inside the bubble, the only line of defense for all humanity.

Alien Soldier in Battleship  Battleship Review

Alien Soldier in ‘Battleship’

Battleship follows such a familiar popcorn blockbuster formula – punctuated by flat characters, predictable arcs and big, loud, action – that Peter Berg could rightly be heralded as the second coming of Michael Bay. How much (or how little) you enjoy a Michael Bay-brand action flick, will largely determine how much (or little) you enjoy Battleship - though, to be fair, Berg and Co. add a little more substance to their film.

The story by Erich and Jon Hoeber (RED) offers a standard three-act arc, with the usual smattering of two-dimensional characters to follow and root for. Alex is “the bad boy with a good heart”; Stone is the “uptight responsible guy”; Admiral Shane is the gruff, no-nonsense military leader; Sam is the hot girl with a heart of gold (she’s a physical therapist for crippled vets – such a noble model!); with a couple of one-note characters  - the wimpy scientist, a bitter crippled vet – thrown in for good measure. For all the concern about having pop-star Rihanna taking on her first big feature-film role, the singer does a pretty okay job playing the smarmy (and gorgeous) Petty Officer Raikes, whose primary job is firing off sarcastic remarks and occasionally looking tough (but still pretty) as she lets the bullets fly.

The action sequences in the film were concocted by some of the same minds at Industrial Light and Magic who brought Transformers to the big screen – and this is evident in the designs of the aliens, their technology, and in the composition of the action sequences. However, visual flair is arguably the only thing that the Transformers franchise has gotten right, so Battleship is, at the very least, an impressive VFX showcase. In order to bring the loosest sense of connection to the board game that inspired its name, the film does have some great Easter egg moments which make direct reference to the board game. While these nods are implemented fairly well into the story, they are also obvious contrivances meant to justify Habro’s brand recognition cash-grab.

Alien Spaceship in Battleship  Battleship Review

Peter Berg is one of the better action directors working in the business (see: the final act of The Kingdom), and here he takes his repertoire to another level, offering great set pieces on the open water, within the tight confines of a ship, and on land. Berg arguably excels over Bay when it comes to creating engaging context for the moments of action, so that we, the audience, actually care about what is taking place on screen. For instance: when bitter double-amputee Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadson) finally gets a chance to prove himself on the battlefield again, we’re actually rooting for him, hard, when the situation could otherwise come off as silly.

Similarly, watching Alex go down the (completely predictable) path of growing into a heroic leader could’ve been a ho-hum affair – but a combination of Kitsch’s charisma and some smart sequencing from Berg make the journey more enjoyable than it probably should be. As if those accomplishments weren’t enough, Berg also dives deep into the patriotism well, drawing up a bucket of good ol’ fashioned military pride that is wholly infectious. By the time it is revealed just how the titular battleship comes into play (because today’s Navy has switched to destroyer warships, we are told in heavy-handed exposition), it’ll be impossible not to smile at a montage of multi-generational military valor and might. The film injects just enough international flavor (like Alex’s rival, captain Yugi Nagata, played by Thor actor Tadanobu Asano) to make the celebration a global affair, so that no one need feel left out.

Brooklyn Decker and Gregory D. Gadson in Battleship  Battleship Review

Brooklyn Decker and Gregory D. Gadson in ‘Battleship’

 In the end, Battleship is a movie that is enjoyable beyond expectation, but doesn’t offer much more than the fast-food-style fun of a summer movie spectacle. It surely is a movie best enjoyed in a big theater (alongside other viewers simply out for a bit of fun), but once the end credits roll, you’re not likely to remember it for very long  - especially in this crowded slate of 2012 blockbusters.

Well… except, perhaps, when you once again have to wonder what, exactly, a board game with the little plastic boats, red and white pegs, and a two-grid board has to do with all of this alien invasion madness. Only in Hollywood.

Battleship is currently playing in theaters worldwide. It is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language.

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For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant team check out our Battleship episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

TAGS: Battleship
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  1. This is a great movie, do not pay attention to bad reviews, i saw the movie last night after read some bad reviews still give the movie a shot and i was suprise that the movie is really good, better than prometheus!!!!

    • It’s the best great movie of them all, don’t pay attention to anything. Only to the big surprising screen. Better than all crappy movies!

    • Just skip the first 20 minutes, as it no relevance to anything. If you imagine it starts at 20 mins in, it starts super hard and goes til its over.

  2. It was an awesome movie, especially using an actual Soldier injured fighting in Afghanistan. And then to top it off bringing the use of true veteran Hero’s in bringing the battleship Missouri back to life. This movie is a must see for anyone that has worn the uniform.

  3. Having experienced multiple RIMPACs in the Australian Navy with the US Forces, this movie is an insult, complete rubbish, and my 9 year old would say … awkward!! Poor old CIWS couldn’t handle the pressure?? Maybe.. But if I got 10 times the distance from a firing 5 inch round than our hero was, my face would have been sucked off and I’d be deaf for life. Firing a 5 inch round at something that size? Please. I’ve only gone through about half the movie. The rest of it is deleted. The movie hierarchy actually got the go ahead from brass in the USN that only serves to impress budding USN trainees during movie nights on training bases? This movie is embarrassing for the USN and just plain “wet”. Berg, look up the term “wet” in Navy terms and you’ll get the idea. Chief Petty Office Electronic Technical Weapons RAN (retired)

  4. Umm…..

    Have to agree with Paulg. I’m not a military man, nor am I a Navy groupie, but I would never dream of insulting the armed forces with such an unabashed piece of “soft politics” (marketing/propaganda/sell job). It’s shameless. It’s a very ‘wet’ Independence Day meets Transformers in the water minus the tongue-in-cheek humor, and far less entertaining.

    Kofi, did you miss the part where they’re using buoys to identify the alien ships so that they can fire at them? you know, when nobody can see each other and are blind-firing on a coordinate grid? That’s the battleship part (nobody knows why the aliens are suddenly blind, when they can fit a horse for shoes).

    I suspect that our reviewer, Kofi, has either not really seen the entire movie, or never played Battleship.

    If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief (I had to shoot mine with a 5 inch round), or give yourself a lobotomy with a kitchen implement, or are an 11 year old boy, then I suspect that this little piece of formulaic blow-everything-up drivel will thoroughly entertain you .

    Some of my favorite parts: Phaser beam communication dishes, Rihana keeping her hat on when swimming for the life boat, the Missouri tourist attraction being kept fully fueled and armed, the nonagenarian crew creeping out of the woodwork like roaches (did they put them back under the fridge after the ceremony?) and many other gems, too numerous to mention.

    Have to say that I did like the aliens though; for once they weren’t insectoid robot slime monsters, and were patterned on actual marines.

    Rob, I used to do some volunteer work for the Intrepid Museum Society (they manage the Intrepid CVS-11 carrier in NYC), and can assure you that a ship that serves as a tourist attraction is not kept armed and fueled in dock (even if it can operate when fueled).

    If you’re older than 11 and male (or a lesbian), Rihanna is probably the best part of the movie; even her acting was surprisingly good. I’d give it 1.5 stars thanks to her.

    • i agree fully with Nathaniel ..

      its an interesting movie .. but gets many things wrong – the most stupidest part of the movie is attacking the aliens without provocation .. even Star Trek had the decency to find out why someone was attacking them and try to resolve matters before going on an all out attack on someone due to some misunderstanding ….

      the humans started firing first .. secondly .. these vessels look like mining vessels .. plus its obviously clear they are not attacking humans .. but instead what they detect as threats .. the guns etc ..

      i read another review that takes this into account –

      They came here on a mission of peace (or had to flee from their last mining outpost due to some invasion / problems) after hearing our radio signals, lost their communications ship while landing, were confronted by an aggressive fleet who did not bother to resolve issues amicably but opened fire on them (it is the humans who activate the force-field (even if it is accidental), they (the Aliens) panicked and fired back. Then, hatched a plan to take our communications to hail home for a rescue mission.

      They made it so obvious it’s ridiculous nobody picked up on the subtle subtext in this film. Plus the images that the Alien transmits to Hopper while on their vessel when he holds his face should have been taken into account into the plot.

      But well I guess it’s hard to follow films with bunch of idiots jumping around in their seats shout MURICAW F*** YEEEAW!!!

      • @spark

        Um, yah, that reviewer sounds like he would have found a way to “blame America first” no matter what was shown in the movie. Yes the movie did leave many unanswered questions, but not, it’s not so “obvious” as he explained it. Please explain the purpose of destroying the island’s infrastructure. Explain the attack on the military airfield that was unprovoked. Explain why they killed the cops on the island unprovoked. I do agree that the movie needed to explain the situation better, and I actually think it was originally planned to be explained but for some reason was cut from the final film. The reason I say this is because prior to the movie in some of the trailers, there were lines of dialog that didn’t make the final cut that seemed to ask these questions. To me, the way they only attacked those who seemed like immediate threats seem more like a way to conserve resources. They are only 4 ships in a foreign planet after-all. Just the same as if you’re a scouting party in a foreign land you will not just start opening fire on every enemy you see but you will still use force to defend yourself when need-be.

        But it’s ok if you CHOOSE to believe a version that suits your personal political view on the military the best. And your Star Trek analogy made me laugh, since especially in TNG, in a lot of episodes, it was their lack of aggressiveness that gets them into the situation that takes the rest of the episode to resolve… I said A LOT of episodes, not all, so save me the “oh, but remember season xx episode xx when that wasn’t the case” arguments. I know they weren’t all like that, but a lot of them were.

        • Answers to Questions:

          - They destroyed the bridges because they wanted to shut down all paths to the Communication Station as pointed out in the film.
          - Killed Armed Cops to secure area. Most likely happy trigger cops.
          - They didn’t need to conserve resources. They could have destroyed all fleets using the spiny YoYo thing.

          POV of Aliens through out the film should have given it away that the Alien’s were only attacking what they perceived immediate threats.

          And it was the America’s fault but mainly that fool Alex “Happy trigger” Hopper.

          The film is only less brain-dead than the Alex Hopper and Co. I didn’t think I would be watching another Alien Sci-Fi so soon that could beat “The Thing (2011)” in utter stupidity, but it seems I can and have.

          • @Milkman

            Again, I think you guys are seeing what you want to see. Just because the cops are armed, doesn’t meet their criteria for a threat, even under what you’re saying. As seen when a ship turns their guns away. They are still armed, under your theory they would have blown them out of the waters anyway. And you can’t say for sure that they were not trying to conserve resources. Just because you don’t believe that they needed to, doesn’t mean that wasn’t on their mind in their situation. We are watching the movie from a point of view where we know the entire circumstance. The aliens in the movie do not have this luxury. In their mind, there could be an entire fleet on the other side of the island they have not yet seen.

            But the number one reason I do not believe it’s as simple as you guys like it to be, is the fact that Peter Berg is actually a very pro-US Navy/military individual. He made sure to cast a real wounded military veteran in a starring, and heroic, role. And also made sure to cast real veterans from the USS Missouri. And I do not believe he will intentionally make a movie that portrays the US Navy as the villains in the movie. There were lines of dialog present in the previews such as “Why don’t they just kill all of us?” that didn’t make it into the movie that seems to me like they initially wanted to answer these questions but they ended up on the cutting room floor… So we will probably never know because I don’t think the DVD or blu ray has any deleted scenes…

            But I know you guys have your minds made up and nothing I say will even make you doubt anything about it, so please continue to believe what you want to believe. :-)

  5. Great graphics terrible dialogue the worse movie I’ve seen when it comes to script if the graphics and detail weren’t so good the movie would have went know where. But hey it’s sci fi movie that what where here for.

  6. I enjoyed it because there wasn’t continuous cuss words & sex scenes. You could watch it with your child & later talk to them about history. I thought it was a great movie!

  7. Maybe I missed something – but where were the submarines? Where I ask you – where? Couldn’t an attack from below been useful?

  8. Great film! Who cares if it wasn’t realistic in terms of the naval battles or explosives etc…it was about a ALIEN INVASION. Realism doesn’t really come in to it.

    Regardless of the Avengers and TDKR whcih eclipsed just about every film ever, £300m plus worldwide hardly makes this a flop.

    Make another one!!

  9. When the alien was aboard the hero’s ship and was facing Hopper, why did it take him so long to attack Hopper? Why was the alien so hesistant to attack to the point that Rhianna had time to blast him? Hopper was a threat to him.

    The aliens followed a strict set of rules and didn’t attack anything that didn’t pose an obvious threat to them (they didn’t attack the horses, or the child and or even the scientist holding his communication attache case)-so the aliens were not ruthless and followed a set of rules-yet they launched their explosive missiles into rush hour traffic killing kids. What did the green and red mean? They didn’t kill unless provoked yet they killed some people who didn’t provoke them. The aliens were confusing and with all their weaponry they were not skilled fighters. They weren’t scary just weird. It wasn’t scary when the scientist was confronted by the alien because all he had to do was stand still and he was able to waltz out of there.

  10. Many have already reviewed this nonsense movie. It is bad, but not bad it is good just bad.

    I do wonder with these films. Why the aliens are always portrayed as morons. They travel all the way to earth, obviously with superior technology, intelligence and when they get here. They act confused, ready to be blown to bits by the nearest nationalists.

    • Just stick with movies starring a bunch of stoner hippies and be happy…

  11. “Just stick with movies starring a bunch of stoner hippies and be happy…”

    Hmm, is this a film review site. Or for little kids like Ken J to talk about irrelevant stoner hippies?