Is there any reason to see a big-budget action movie based on a board game that’s been around for almost fifty years? Normally, I would abruptly say no, but this time there actually is.
When I first heard that Hollywood had optioned the rights and was making Battleship, a film based on a board game of the same name, I shook my head and rolled my eyes at the thought alone. The premise is silly and infuriating enough to make me never want to see the film. I mean, c’mon, it’s a film based on a board game.
Luckily for me, my best friend is in the Navy, and since they’re fully endorsing the film, they were having an early viewing on the base where he is stationed. The director of the film, Peter Berg, was on hand to introduce the audience to his personal history with the military and attachment to the film itself. The film is his artistic homage to the Navy. I learned that there is a lot more to the film that meets the eye (Transformers pun intended).
Let me start with the obvious things that I thought were going to be bad with the film.
Like I mentioned previously, the film is based the concept of a family board game, which just seems like a bad idea, but when it comes down to the actual plot of the film, it’s really not. The movie is a typical end-of-the-world, alien invasion, summer blockbuster style movie, similar to Independence Day or War of the Worlds or Transformers (and produced by the same people). There are only a few small details that can be associated with the actual board game. Those mainly revolve around the fact that the film is based around being on a giant ship and there’s one scene where the console of the ship resembles the board game, but to save you from spoilers, I won’t go into the details surrounding that scene.
The fact that the film is produced by the same people that brought us Transformers seems like one of the biggest selling points of the film, according to the trailers and posters anyway. This was not a selling point for me. I felt the last two Transformers films weren’t up to par. The first in the series was well done, but the sequels seemed a little too juvenile for my tastes. So, this idea being used as a selling point was contradictory for me. There is also some misdirection in the trailers and posters as to what the aliens actually are. For the sake of not spoiling the film, I won’t go into detail about that, except that I will say that those giant mechanical things in the trailer are not the aliens, those are their ships. The latest trailer shows the aliens in it, but it’s so brief that most people might not even notice.
Those two points were my biggest reasons for not caring to see the film, but like I said, I got lucky and caught an early screening and my views have changed. The film is marketed as a Transformers style film, and while it has similar looking mechanical alien depictions, it has little similarities to that film series.
The plot centers around two brothers, one who is in the Navy and one who is a screw up. When the older brother forces his younger sibling to join the Navy, the screw ups continue. The younger brother falls in love with the Admiral’s daughter and wants to prove his mettle to him so he can ask for her hand in marriage. Everything goes awry when all the world’s Navy meet up at RIMPAC, a yearly maritime training exercise, and the aliens show up.
The film goes into some detail about why the aliens show up and it’s rather believable as well. According to the film, in 2006, after finding another planet that has a mass and distance to its sun similar to Earth, we set up a series of satellites that will broadcast a signal into space where another giant satellite will amplify the signal and send it to that planet.
I guess someone heard the signal.
During the training exercise, the alien ships crash into the Pacific Ocean and engage America and Japan’s Navy. At first, both think this is just a training exercise, but quickly realize that there’s no way their own government could have made something like that.
The film has many cliche’s that summer blockbusters bring to the table like giant objects crashing through buildings and major landmarks (a la Armageddon), the unlikely friendship paradigm, the screw-up guy not being good enough for the girl as seen through her father’s eyes, old or more simple technology being used to thwart a more highly advanced enemy, and even a scene where a guy goes toe to toe with an alien, punching it in the face (can we say Independence Day).
Despite the cliche-heavy plot, Rihanna’s not so great acting and the fact that they derived the concept from a board game, the film is highly enjoyable and does what it is supposed to do — entertain the audience.
If you’re looking for a film that will challenge you intellectually, you shouldn’t see this film. This movie is your basic, standard-edition, “let’s fight off the aliens” style film, it just happens to be on the open water. With that being said, it’s also a very enjoyable, fun film that does what it set out to do and entertain us for a little over two hours.
Six months ago I would have never recommended that anyone see this film, just based on the facts. But just as things look good on paper and don’t play out well in real life, this film looks terrible on paper, but was much better than could have been imagined by this writer.
Good action and creative ways of explaining things that usually get overlooked in this type of film.
Lots of cliches, misdirection and Rihanna's acting was only tolerable