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Battleship—movie review

by Leonard Maltin
May 18, 2012 3:21 AM
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Taylor Kitsch in Battleship-485
Photo Credit: ILM/Universal Pictures

Finally, Hollywood has produced a movie for people who found the Transformers series too intellectually challenging. This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, since Battleship is not based on a novel, or a magazine article, but a board game.

Yet even within the confines of a big, dumb summer action movie, Battleship strains the limits of credibility. Director Peter Berg has layered a veneer of patriotism and gung-ho Navy pride onto Erich and Jon Hoeber’s cardboard screenplay, in a cheesy attempt to bring gravitas to the project (and guilt to anyone who dares to knock it). Still, there’s no escaping the fact that the characters—though played by beautiful people—are strictly one-dimensional. Even a tough military veteran who’s lost his legs, and his will to live (played by real-life amputee Gregory D. Gadson), becomes a living cliché.

Taylor Kitsch, who first worked with Berg on Friday Night Lights, stars as a perpetual screw-up whose brother, straight-arrow Naval officer Alexander Skarsgård, grows tired of getting him out of jams and forces him to join the Navy. And poof! In the blink of an eye, he becomes an officer, too—although he can’t shed his hot-headed temper, which gets him in Dutch with his grim-faced Admiral (Liam Neeson), who also happens to be the father of his new girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker).

Kitsch and Neeson in Battlefield
Photo credit: Universal

Kitsch gets to prove his mettle in the midst of a hostile alien invasion which forms the centerpiece of the picture and allows for elaborate visual effects and plenty of fiery explosions. That may be enough to please undiscriminating action fans, but for me it didn’t compensate for all the dumb dialogue and juvenile plotting.

Battleship isn’t boring, but that’s a small compliment. Or as my friend Bill Warren put it, “Saying something wasn't as bad as I feared isn't the same thing as saying it was good, is it?”

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  • mike | July 9, 2012 4:13 PMReply

    I wanted to like it but damn was it stupid!
    Advanced alien civilization that didn't consider guns not pointed at them a tthreat!
    Wow and then not to protect the communications and also not have guided weapons but mortars!
    I was dissapointed

  • capt | June 9, 2012 2:48 AMReply

    same people saying this was "an A plus!" are probably the same ones talking about how "Prometheus is an abortion!"

  • Charles | June 2, 2012 9:55 AMReply

    This is an excellent movie! The movie is tense and full of excitement. Being a Navy Veteran myself, I'm happy to see a great battle movie involving the Navy Fleet. I love how the movie includes the disabled veterans and retired veterans as well. And the movie also unites races, nations, young and old as one. The movie is good for children as well {12 and up in my opinion}, which is good since it is named after the game "Battleship". The PG-13 rating mostly is due to the tension, violence, and explosions which are many but fits right into place with the great plot of the movie. They finally made a movie that doesn't focus on sex, profanity, and gory blood scenes. No blood scenes at all that I can remember. Bravo! --- ( A+) Enjoy! -- "GO NAVY!"

  • Kewalosurfer | April 13, 2013 5:32 AM

    Totally agree, enjoyed the movie.

  • Kewalosurfer | April 13, 2013 5:32 AM

    Totally agree, enjoyed the movie.

  • bob | May 31, 2012 9:25 PMReply

    Haven't seen it yet but being a former Navy man I have to go see this one. Real Naval ships and some real Navy men and women. ?? but where are the Marines? Aircraft carriers and other large Naval ships carry Marines so I expected to see them also.

  • joseph | May 31, 2012 3:52 AMReply

    Battleship is one of the dumbest movies I have ever seen. The board game is actually better than the movie. One of the stupidest lines in the movie is when Rihana says "Mahalo MF" as they are firing at an alien ship. "Mahalo" means "thank you" in Hawaiian. Aloha would have worked, I suppose. The plot was dumb; the dialogue was dumb; the whole premise was dumb.

  • Clifton Townes | June 11, 2012 5:06 PM

    I agree having served on a Battleship (USS New Jersey BB-62) I was really put off by the ability to get a ship that was decommed 20 years earlier underway with all eight boilers online and live 16" ammo onboard is a real croc. Also it takes quite a few sailors to man a gun turret (approx 108) They manned 3 and then moved a 16" HE round from turret three to one or two. (1700 lbs not 1000) by 5 people not gonna happen. Good entertainment but thats it.

  • D. Sharp | May 29, 2012 8:54 PMReply

    I loved the movie!!! I don't know why all of the ratings are so full of crap about this movie, it is a good movie!!! Maybe it didn't have enough of the "F" word in it for you all, or maybe not enough sex is that it?????? I think you all are going over board with the down grading of Battleship. It was a good movie and I would give it an A plus!!!!!

  • Chad | May 26, 2012 10:34 AMReply

    The movie is fun but it is vapid. The characters have little or no depth( two deminsional).
    Brooklyn Decker is very cute and her performance is OK for her role.
    This movie is just like any other sci-fi actioner: it is alot of explosions.
    The title refers to late in the movie where a WW2 battleship that has been mothballed for several years is rendered operational, battle ready in just a few hours- - absurd. So this film is meant for the teenage audience.
    This movie is no less intelligent than TRANSFORMERS which it resembles. The Transformers films were dumb!

  • Katy | May 23, 2012 10:43 AMReply

    It was fun entertainment and the aliens were fresh (was it the LA Times critic that likened them to Amish farmers?). Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard are great eye candy for us gals. I got exactly what I expected when I bought the ticket.

  • Bill | May 21, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    I saw Battleship wth 4 friends. We are in our 40's and loved it. I am a huge fan of the movie Transformers, and I thought Battleship was just as good. Lots of action and entertainment!

  • mike schlesinger | May 21, 2012 4:34 PMReply

    Wow, first JOHN CARTER tanks big-time and now BATTLESHIP follows suit. Taylor Kitsch is surely having one hell of a lousy year!

  • Craig | May 20, 2012 8:02 PMReply

    What is Bill Warren doing these days? I haven't seen much of him since GEnie went belly up. The last thing I saw was a new edition of Keep Watching the Skies a few years ago.

  • h2oclerk | May 19, 2012 4:30 PMReply

    Leonard Maltin... now he's boring... and clueless.

    Great, fun, flick - up there with Independence Day good. And you don't have to endure Jeff Goldblum's one-liners.

  • Kurama | June 2, 2012 2:49 AM

    Anyone older than 6 who enjoyed this "film" is hopelessly stupid. Watch an Andrei Tarkovsky film, and hopefully you may purge your mind.

  • Jeffrey | May 18, 2012 11:54 AMReply

    Liam Neeson deserves to be in a better movie.

  • hugh | May 18, 2012 7:48 AMReply

    Despite all the complaints about how bad movies are getting, the fact is that most people want to see movies that are simple minded. Hollywood is not to blame, they are just pandering to the taste of the average moviegoer.

  • George P. | May 20, 2012 8:02 PM

    I don't buy it. Inception proved that movies don't have to be simple to be successful. People want to see action, but they'll go see complex action if given a chance.

  • Lightfandango | May 18, 2012 4:44 AMReply

    Michael Bay is being immitated! The sad state modern movies are in.

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