Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
Thor
8.25 out of 10

Monday, May 14, 2012

Battleship

More than a Boardgame

Rated: PG-13  Intense sequences of violence, action and destruction and for language
Release Date: May 18, 2012
Runtime:  2 hrs 11 mins

Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Liam Neeson, Peter MacNicol, John Tui, Hamish Linklater


SYNOPSIS: During an international naval exercise off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, the sudden appearance of alien warcraft cut-off three naval vessels inside an impenetrable dome of energy.

REVIEW: Writer, actor and director Peter Berg, picks one of the disciplines by sitting squarely in the director's chair to bring to life the Hasbro board to life. Known for the films Hancock, The Kingdom and Friday Night Lights, Berg is no stranger to dramas or action. Based on the source material of a simple Hasbro board game with plastic ships, red pegs, and a gridded map over blue, Erich and Jon Hoeber (Red, Whiteout) write up a classic summer disaster flick filled with firepower and fun.
Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, John Carter of Mars) lives an underwhelming and free-wheeling life on the islands of Hawaii. With every rules he breaks or girl he dates, Alex puts his brother Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård, Straw Dogs) in tight situations by having to support him and give him a place to live. Finally fed up with his brother's antic, Stone enlists him into the Navy. As Alex's natural abilities speed him up the rank of Lieutenant, he still lives in the shadow of his commander brother. Meanwhile, scientists have discovered a planet similar to earth that could sustain humanoid life. The technicians use communications arrays and a deep orbit satellite to pulse a message to this found planet every 24 hours. When the United States Navy conducts their annual military exercises with other international military agencies, some of their vessels are confronted by alien warships responding to the message sent. Quickly, Stone and Alex ships and a Japanese destroyer are overtaken within an impenetrable domed barrier and left to defend and attack the alien aggressors with inferior hardware and weapons. As the situation becomes more dire on the sea for the Navies, the aliens create a beach head on the island in an attempt to try to establish communications back to their home planet.

Taking a simple board concept and creating a grandiose spectacle is no easy task. But as the might of the Pacific Fleet is set to sail for their military manuevers and four meteorite columns crash into the ocean and transform into a domed barrier generator and three water-skimming warships, the action ramps up to summer popcorn levels. The alien ships bristle with weaponry, hopping across the water like stones on a pond. Intelligent destructive mines, devices that are crosses between viscous porcipines and yo-yos and akin to Sonic the Hedgehog, carry out their razor sharp missions of destruction against structures, buildings and vessels with equal ease. Reminescent of the board game, Berg makes sure that the alien ships' offensive weapons are cylinders that spin up to speed, launch into the air and back down to their targets, embedding into the naval destroyer-class ships, and pressing deeper into the steel hulls before they explode massive holes in the sides of the hulls. With every aspect of CGI integrated so seamlessly, I didn't realize the connection between game pins and film shells until later. I tip my imaginary hat off to Berg for the quality of the visuals! I just wish the creative design team had spent a little more time on the creation of the actual alien beneath all of the superior technology.

Taylor Kitsch buzzes off his almost-signature locks to enlist in the United States Navy. He plays both the careless punk and the reluctant hero with equal ease. And he plays Alex as an unsure leader struggling in the shadow of more confident leaders like Alex's brother Stone (Skarsgard) and the gruff intimidating father figure Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, The Grey). Alex, with all of his intelligence and natural leadership abilities, would rather put himself in harm's way than anyone under his command. Under his command are capable mates who would follow him into battle, including Petty Officer Cora "Weps" Raikes (Rihanna), Chief Petty Officer Walther 'The Beast' Lynch (John Tui, Power Rangers S.P.D.), and Boatswain Mate Seaman Jimmy 'Ordy' Ord (Jesse Plemons, Observe and Report). Rihanna proves that she is not just a singer, diving deep into a role to play with the big boys, Tui provides the brawn and Plemons adds the humors. These three do not have much meaningful dramatic dialogue, but they fulfill the disaster flick standard. Brooklyn Decker (Just Go With It) plays the Admiral's daughter and Alex's girlfriend and provides a little eye candy and a companion for the real-life double amputee Army Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadson) who starts off wanting to give up the fight and end up taking on one of the aliens man-to-man, I mean, man-to-alien. Rounding out the main cast are Hamish Linklater (The New Adventures of Old Christine) as timid, but capable radar array technician Cal Zapata, and Tadanobu Asano (Thor) as Japanese Captain Yugi Nagata.

Peter Berg goes completely patriotic for this summer's disaster flick. Yes, The Avengers is a superhero flick of epic proportions, with gods and monsters staving off an alien armada. That movie has superheroes, Battleship has heroes. Berg makes sure to highlight the real heroes of the present and the heroes of the past. When Sam first goes to her physical therapy post, we see many fallen warriors with missing limbs and steely eyes looking far down range in an effort to again become the whole warriors they remain in their hearts, souls and minds. Gadson's Mick Canales epitomizes the challenges that these men face every day and the sacrifices they have made for their country and countrymen. For past heroes, we get a glimpse of the World War II sailors working the boilers and the turrets of the de-comissioned 'Mighty Mo' USS Missouri to get back into the fight against the alien enemy. Throw in AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' during the battleship's ramp-up montage and you can't help but feel enormous pride in our soldiers and sailors.

Battleship is the perfect summer popcorn flick. Filled with humor, action, and aliens, this sea-faring film can be the movie to go see when you get to the box office and are told that The Avengers is still sold out. Don't let the precedence of board games-turned-to-film fool you, Battleship is not Clue, and will not be sunk!

WORTH:  Matinee and BluRay

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