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Battleship: Well-Paced Action-Packed Thrill Ride

By Tony LaScala · May 19, 2012

Battleship was a hit, and it sunk my low expectations. I walked into the empty theatre fully expecting a two-hour suck fest full of corny dialogue, poorly acted, and oft interrupted by ill-timed explosions. Instead, I was treated to a surprisingly well-paced action-packed thrill ride that left me desperately wanting to break out my Battleship board game circa 1989 and call up my 2nd grade friend Ryan to ask his mom if he could come over and play.

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The film’s action-packed-popcorn-chomping story followed young reckless Navy Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) taking command of a Navy destroyer after all other officers are killed by hostile marine based aliens seeking to take over a high powered communication satellite on Hawaii. Over the course of two explosive hours, Alex and his hodgepodge band of sailors from various sunken ships from across the globe take command of the decommissioned battleship Missouri and open up a can of whoop ass on the lizard-like invaders.

Screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber have penned what should have been a campy screenplay, usually only watchable by mentally numb adults and fruit-punched mouth children into a gem of a movie tolerable by all ages and interest levels.  The actors, as to be expected, professionally deliver the witty dialogue. But the real surprise is the intelligently crafted and artfully edited dialogue of the military servicemen and women portraying characters in the film. While some movies with the gimmick of real military personal often give the “actors” long winded speeches full of technical jargon, Battleship keeps the military actors performances well polished with quick one-liners and short-winded dialogue exchanges that won’t leave your ears cringing and your bladder pining for a bathroom break.

Some of the more clever parts of the script were the skillful tie-ins to the game itself. The alien invaders set up a series of energy fields that split the ships from helping each other, extremely reminiscent of the “playing area” of the original game. Additionally, Alex Hopper’s isolated ship has to fire blindly at areas on a grid, hoping to hit alien ships. The corresponding aerial shot of this action reveals a modernized game board we’re all familiar with.

The movie was not without its flaws. By the film’s conclusion there were several unresolved holes in the plot, namely why the aliens were only targeting structures and machinery and purposefully avoiding injuring people. Perhaps the small scene after the end credits was meant to establish an arc for a sequel, possibly to solve unresolved issues in the script. That being said, I’m of the firm belief that any story, regardless of preplanned sequels or prequels, should stand alone as a complete story, and not rely on other films to resolve it’s plots and subplots. At the conclusion of The Empire Strikes Back there were a few loose ends, but we all knew that the Empire was regrouping and WHO had Han Solo.

I was left throwing my hands up in the air and silently mouthing “Really?” on several occasions, as the blatant product placement was so inherently obvious and quite simply revolting. Perhaps just as Alex Hopper did when he outmaneuvered incoming alien missiles, the films producers should have shown a little tact and more subtly woven in the Subway and Coke Zero advertisements.

Battleship accomplishes what it set out to do: be fun. The pacing is good and there were many legitimate laughs to break up the action. Liam Neeson’s American accent was even on par with his American counterparts, leading me to suspect when the script came across his desk, he noticed its merits and tried extra hard not to roll his A’s and R’s. B4 you C1 more disappointing summer flick that never lives up to its preview, check out Battleship: It’s not a miss.