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Review 07 May 12

Here’s One Battleship That Deserves to Sink

New all-American top blockbuster glorifies warfare against alien enemy to the point of nonsense - and not even the super-expensive special effects can redeem it.

Andrej Klemencic
BIRN
Belgrade

Battleship lacks of a decent scenario, acting achievements or directional quality. | Photo courtesy of Taramount

It is not unfamiliar for moviegoers to walk out of a blockbuster feeling disappointed about the lack of a decent scenario, acting achievements or directional quality. Battleship lacks them all.

In absence of new military conflicts in the world, Hollywood seems to have decided to spice up US presidential election year with patriotic films.

As creativity and hard-core Hollywood seldom walk hand-in-hand, they borrowed this story from a video game. This is becoming increasingly frequent, but not all films based on video games turn out wrong, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time being the most recent proof.

With the Transformers films breaking records among very young audiences, Universal Studio took on a story about machines fighting brave, young military officers, and threw in some aliens.

The good guys this time are young Marines on a military exercise off the coast of Hawaii. Among them is a particularly problematic soldier, Alex Hopper, who falls for the admiral's daughter. But, owing to his rebellious attitude, he is facing the end of his military career after the exercise finishes.

However, aliens appear and the exercise becomes a fight to save the planet.

This time, the representatives of foreign species come invited, as the plot informs us that scientists have built a powerful satellite to contact a planet that they believe contains life similar to that on Earth.

We are soon shown that the members of this species are not a peaceful lot, however, as they blow up several American warships and make preparations to conquer our planet.

In their way stands Alex who learns that muscles and hasty decisions serve little purposes when you need to save the world.

One could easily dispute the use of disabled and retired American military men to add a patriotic boost to the Battleship. | Photo courtesy of Taramount

Films based exclusively on someone or something blowing up landmarks while heroes try to stop their evil intentions can work - if steered by an experienced director.

Though Independence Day or the Day After Tomorrow are not works of cinematic art, their director, Roland Emmerich, knows that large amounts of special effects must be matched by an entertaining if not believable storyline.

In Battleship, we just don't buy pop-star Rihanna blowing alien heads off with a gun from a destroyer, or Hong Kong buildings collapsing in a 9/11 fashion, nor can we ignore factual inconsistencies so flagrant that one wonders if there was a scenario at all or they just used the text from a video game CD cover.

One could also easily dispute the use of disabled and retired American military men to add a patriotic boost to the film.

The special effects here comprise a few alien ships and probably the largest number of onscreen explosions ever recorded on film.

As the viewer is taken on a tour of American military steal on water, we also get some nice shots of ships in the open seas.

Sound effects are enhanced to the level of taking away any doubt that you are actually on the ship. While seats shake, you may want to start covering your ears every time you see a gun ready to fire.

Patriotic films containing many toys may have a sound financial logic. You get the boy toy audience as well as the patriotic one.

Battleship gives solid evidence that this is so. In just a few weeks it returned most of its 200 million dollar budget, taking over Titanic 3D in cinemas worldwide.

There is something that audiences clearly like about films in which the human race is saved from almost certain extinction by a group of heroes. Battleship speaks in favour of the fact that these films need only be expensive, not good.

 

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