Before you think I was set from the beginning to hate this movie, I actually thought this concept had more milage than most other people. Many of my friends were set on seeing this movie and believe me, it was not because they were yearning for some Michael Bay hand me down script. Whenever they spoke about the movie it was always about the comic potential this movie had. Everyone envisioned a stern faced Liam Neeson hunched over a computer table trying to use his particular set of skills to sink that tiny boat that only took up two spaces on the board and culminating in him saying in the most serious tone “They sunk my Battleship.“ They knew it was a stupid concept, I knew it was a stupid concept, and the filmmakers should have known it was a stupid concept. This film should have had its tongue firmly planted in cheek but unfortunately Peter Berg took this thing far more seriously than it ever deserves.
There are times when this movie is so dumb it almost falls into that satirical category. The best example is when our protagonist Alex (Taylor Kitch) enlists the help of a bunch of crusty veterans to run the only battleship left to fight the aliens all to a montage of ACDC’s Thunderstruck. It is that overload of sheer ridiculousness that makes you laugh out loud and at the same time makes you regret the route the movie actually took the rest of the run time. The majority of the movie are tedious effects sequences with no sense of tension or fun. For example we get the destruction of Hong Kong and Hawaii which have little to do with anything and feel more like rejected carnage scenes from a Roland Emmerich movie rather than a Bay-ish action scene. The ship combat scenes are boring as we have no investment in the characters and we are seeing nonstop CGI fly at the screen. We finally get to the point where Berg actually does sit everyone down and plays a variation on the board game but instead of being a hilarious send up, it is as boring as seeing people actually play Battleship. It is stupid that it does not fit the action movie set up by Berg, but not stupid enough to be the funny send up we want it to be.
We also get a bait and switch as to the actors we want in this movie and who we actually get. This movie was sold on the star power of Liam Neeson and he is in the movie for about five minutes. I actually really liked the performance by Alexander Skarsgard who made a compelling character out of the same shitty writing every other character had. But guess what? He leaves the movie very early too. What we get is ever wooden Taylor Kitch and a supporting cast of non-actors. So the acting we actually get is downright horrible. Some of the line reads are absolutely embarassing. It really doesn’t help that Kitch’s character is rather unlikable. The writers hammer home the point he is a loser, so much so that his decisions kill many people. The writers try to make Alex likable by going through adversity and changing, but by the time his actions have cost dozens of people their lives, it is a little too late for the audience.
What also kills this movie is the running time. This would probably be a more fun and easy going experience if not for the fact I have to sit through 131 minutes of this crap. I can handle bad, but when you drag out the pain for over two hours that’s when I become bitter. This movie could have easily (EASILY!!!) cut to 90 minutes and you would not miss a thing. That is how much pointless crap there is in this movie.
I think you know where I stand on this. If there is one tiny thing I can give Michael Bay credit for, it is that he knows the ridiculousness of some of his movies and goes along with it. The idea of oil drillers going up into space to nuke an asteroid is freaking moronoic but Bay just wants to have fun with it so you go along for the ride. The idea of making a big budget summer blockbuster based on a board game with no plot is equally as stupid and Berg should have had the same attitude in reveling in the stupidity. Instead we get a movie that comes off without any charm or sense of humor and painfully crawls through its over two hour running time. There are moments where the stupidity is too much and you can’t help but laugh, but there are not enough of those moments for me to endorse this as a ‘so bad its good movie‘.