Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



Oscar Predictions

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Film #371


A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.

Year 2, Film #6

THE REVIEW: I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting a lot from Battleship. Many people, myself included, did nothing but make fun of the film when it was released last year because some executive was stupid enough to green-light a film based on the popular Hasbro game. But after watching I have to say that I quite enjoyed what I saw. It’s by no means a perfect movie, but even by summer blockbuster standards, Battleship lands a direct hit.

To start off with, Battleship does something that I quite admired which is base things off reality. In particular, the premise of the film revolves around communicating with Planet-G which is located in the Goldilocks zone of a distant solar system. Especially coming off the tragedy that was Battle: Los Angeles, it was an extreme relief that there still are people making mindless action films that take enough time and effort to attempt an air of believability. Additionally, Battleship takes place during RIMPAC exercises, which is something I wasn’t aware of before watching this film (see, it’s even educational). The effect of constructing the story around these established facts is it lends credibility. Unlike Battle: Los Angeles (I’m going to be bashing that film for quite a while) which had no relatable aspect whatsoever, Battleship does. It’s not some poorly-crafted mockup and simulation of Earth and what might happen in a given scenario. Instead, Battleship is a (surprisingly) well-crafted depiction of a decidedly extreme occurrence: alien invasion. But because Earth looks and feels real, laws of physics and common sense are obeyed, and most importantly that the characters, while somewhat clichéd at times, are individuals and behave like they each should.

More than that, the pacing and development of the story was also well done. The opening established the key players in the film – Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), Cdr. Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård), and Sam Shane (Brooklyn Decker) – in such a way that you can tell everyone apart and understand the motivations behind what they do1. After everything is established, we know the who (these naval officers and others), the what (impending alien contact), and where (Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii) and the pieces go into position. RIMPAC begins and the aliens come, establish a force field that blocks all but three destroyer-class vessels, and quickly demonstrate their superiority by wiping out two of them leaving just the USS John Paul Jones left to defend Earth. Up until this point, the film is very much an average action blockbuster. Not much happens and it’s more show than substance. After this point (which is a little less than halfway through) is where things really get interesting and where Battleship stands apart from other films. I will tell you that it’s in this part of the film where you get the terrible lines such as, “Target E11” and, ”There’s no way they’re going to sink this battleship.” But I’ll also tell you that despite cheesy references to the board game, there are surprising turns of events and a highly entertaining, and touching, nod to some of our country’s finest.

By no means would I consider Battleship a perfect film. Many of my complaints are because of the acting and some of the aforementioned cheesiness of the dialogue. However, as a whole, Battleship provided a great deal of entertainment, was much better than expectations, but more than that, is better than many other action films which deliver high on looks but low on character and story. There’s still no reason (besides the obvious tie-in) I see for why the film needs to be named after the board game. I think that’s where much of the joking originated from and why I was hesitant to watch it. Having seen the film though I can safely say that it doesn’t deserve that ridicule and you really should give this film a chance. You’ll be glad you did.

THE RATING: 4 out of 5 

  1. I would have thought this would be a given as even poorer films usually provide at least some distinction between characters. But after Battle: Los Angeles I now appreciate how important a role this plays and wanted to specifically state that here.