Battleship (2012)
By: Matt Moss on August 25, 2012  | 
Universal | Region Free | 2.40:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | 131 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson
Screenplay: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Country: USA
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As a kid, the funniest films for me were those zany spoof-movies like Spaceballs, Repossessed, The Vidiot From U.H.F. and Top Secret. They were 100-gags-per-minute Mad Magazine film-parodies come to ludicrous, low-brow life. Often featuring Leslie Neilson getting hit in the nuts so hard he went cross-eyed. And I still think their particular brand of tomfoolery is hilarious. Especially the dual comedy knockout-punches that are Hot Shots and Hot Shots Part Deux.

This year a new a new joke-riot party-machine has hoisted anchor to re-live the glory days of slapstick spoofery. Battleship is Hot Shots Part Trois in all but name. It's certainly worthy of that title in terms of tone, realism and the general hilarity of each scene. Instead of riffing on the inherent ridiculousness of Top Gun and Rambo however this rapid-fire side-splitter has been updated for modern audiences, with the big-budget action franchises of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay clearly in its sights for merciless lampooning. Their slick commercialism and bone-headed excess has been exaggerated for maximum satirical effect.

For a start, Battleship is based on the goofy notion that Hollywood executives would be so desperate for product that they could conceive a summer blockbuster from a board game kids stopped playing in the 70s.

But the wackiness doesn't end there. Would Michael Bay be satisfied with a mere bunch of ordinary battleships, some naval strategy and realistic-sized explosions? Or would he be tempted to add an Earth-threatening alien invasion with non-stop CGI-drenched mega-carnage to the mix?

Director Peter Berg (nemesis to Horace Pinker) sure knows the answer. In a steel blue-tinted blaze of water, shrapnel and billowing stars-and-stripes he creates the perfect parody of the fan boy-baiting event movie when a deep space communication unwittingly summons a bunch of extraterrestrial invaders who splash into the Pacific ocean during an international naval exercise. Much fighting between Battleships and Aliens ensues.

You may not remember muscle-men ETs with sea-cucumber faces and Iron Man suits crash-landing in modern-day Hawaii being a large part of the original game. You may, however, recall fiddling with little pegs on a stupid grid until you lost patience. Well, Berg makes sure that the alien interlopers constantly shoot giant explosive-charged versions of those pegs at Naval Destroyers. To really sell the joke, he keeps the action pumping, the production value sky-high and the AC/DC cranked loud. It almost begins to feel like a real action film. That is, until someone opens their mouth and the horrendous lines of dialogue drop like depth-charges.

The cast seamlessly fit into the Hot Shots cliché-ridiculing template. John Carter of Mars (Taylor Kitsch) is the Charlie Sheen bad-boy character. He's a wild-child loose-cannon who doesn't play by the rules, but his devil-may-care attitude may soon get him kicked out of the Navy. If only there was some way for him to prove he has the Right Stuff. Well, I guess he could always get stuck in a giant impenetrable alien bubble to fight a Decepticon flying-fortress in a WW2 battleship manned by geriatric ex-servicemen. Unfortunately he doesn't surf on a motorcycle to the tune of "Dream Lover". But he is introduced in a grunge-wig while stealing a chicken burrito for a hot blonde (Brooklyn Decker). Which is almost as good.

Naturally, the hot blonde is the daughter of the hard-as-nails Admiral of the Fleet (Liam Neeson). This is the Lloyd Bridges role which Neeson has updated as a wink-wink/nudge-nudge version of his scowling angry-dad from Taken.

Eric from True Blood (Alexander Skarsgard) appears as the dashing yet uptight Cary Elwes character. His last scene is a new comedy classic. And Rihanna shows up periodically to awkwardly offer inane and unnecessary pseudo-hip dialogue. Her street-wise, tough-girl shtick is knowingly under-written. Every appearance by her is hilarious and becomes an amusing comment on terrible popstar-cameos which only exist to squeeze some bucks from the youth demographic. She's virtually a piece of corporate product-placement like all the obvious Subway signage.

The strangest character, however, is a real-life double-amputee Iraq war veteran. As a constant reminder of the horrible realities of battle, he seems out of place amongst the blatant recruitment propaganda and military hardware fetish-porn. But don't worry, he's not left out of the fun. A sissy-boy scientist screams at his appearance thinking he's a cyborg. Then he gets to punch out an alien.

To their credit the cast and crew keep the joke running for over 2 hours, perhaps even fooling some viewers into believing they're watching a genuine, straight faced summer action movie.
The 2.40:1 HD presentation vividly captures the massive scenes of destruction. You'll almost feel the spray of the water as ships crash and explode amongst the waves.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is loud and impressive. I literally had to keep turning the sound down to stop the neighbours complaining, and even on low settings it will sound like cannon-shells and shrapnel are raining down all over your lounge room.
Extra Features
There's hours of behind-the-scenes material where the cast and crew keep the joke about creating a real summer action movie running. Such wacky guys!

Alternate Ending Previsualization - Peter Berg introduces an animated alternate ending that was abandoned for budgetary reasons.

USS Missouri VIP Tour: Berg is back, this time for a 20 minute history lesson/guided tour of one of American's most famous Battleships.

Preparing for Battle looks at the original Battleship board game and how it influenced the movie.

All Hands on Deck: The Cast: Berg talks about the actors and we also see some of the expert training they went though to become more authentic naval personnel.

Engage in Battle consists of a two short featurettes: "Shooting at Sea" looks at the various challenges a production can encounter when filming miles off-shore, while "All Aboard the Fleet" sees the cast and crew filming above and below decks aboard the USS Missouri.

If you haven't seen enough of Peter Berg already Commander Pete puts the director in the spotlight, with cast and crew giving him a jolly good back slapping for 6 minutes or so.

The Visual Effects of Battleship shows the team conceiving and creating the large scale CGI and practical effects sequences.

A trailer for the Battleship video game ends our selection.
The Verdict
Battleship has aliens, explosions, hysterical scientists, laser-shooting satellites, foul-mouthed war veterans, Rihanna, double-amputees, explosions and even a battleship. Everything you need to make the funniest comedy of the year.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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