Every summer, there's at least one huge-budget film that squanders $200 million or so on boring action, unfunny jokes, weird racial stereotypes and bloated special effects sequences. And apparently this summer, it's officially Battleship. The "wet Transformers" movie has come out a whole month early in the U.K., which means that a rash of British reviews are already out. Here's a brief summary of some of the salient points... including aliens who are quite possibly Chinese. (George Lucas, call your attorney.)
The Playlist says it's a boring film with dull performances. Money quote:
But we think that even the brains-off crowd will struggle to find anything to enjoy here. The film is so overlong (130 minutes) and sluggishly paced that the heartbeat never gets raised, and the effects never look anything other than plasticky; a scene that nods to "Titanic" is less convincing than James Cameron's fourteen-year-old film, and the aliens look like a "Halo" cut scene with their helmets on, and like McG, of all people, with them off.
The Times of India feels like the aliens are too silly. Money quote:
The Aliens which are always the most interesting part of any science fiction film too let the film down. They do not intrigue or scare you; they add further comic relief, given their distorted Chinese features and straw like beard. Of the many sub-plots, nothing makes an impact on you. You feel indifferent towards the characters...living, dead, aliens. Alex's rapport with his protective brother, blonde girlfriend, her uptight idealist father and finally the aliens, all looks silly and theatrical.
SFX says it's a bit lukewarm, although the final set piece is genuinely cool and clever. Money quote:
Impressive effects sequences, ingeniously entertaining nods to the game and solid performances (not that singer Rihanna is actually required to act at any point) fight against a plot that descends into setpieces and cliché. The script unconvincingly tries to justify some brain-curdling dialogue ("Let's buy this planet another day") with postmodern winks ("Do people really say that?"). The aliens are also rather bland, though there is a spirited attempt to portray them as individuals.
Hey U Guys is perhaps the most damning, saying it's literally Transformers on the sea. Money quote:
Peter Berg's Battleship wavers between disoriented action movie and outright acceptance of Michael Bay as Lord and Saviour. Taylor Kitsch gives everything to try and win our hearts despite the paper thin character and cut and paste dialogue he and every other character inherits from the last two decades of chest thumping, patriotic cinema. The true crime here is that nothing new is tried and there is no ambition; slow motion photography does not equal drama, the guitar twang of an American rock classic does not endear me to you, switching between the cold dark blue of midnight, the bright burn of dawn and back to a charming subset to suit your want for pretty backgrounds regardless of the actual sequence of events sends signals to me that you don't trust me to even notice when the day doesn't run in the correct order.
The Telegraph says Battleship is "rotten but kind of knows it," and at least it's not as reprehensible as Hasbro's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And stuff does blow up real good. But at the same time:
While Berg may have had his sights set on trumping Michael Bay with all the fist-pumping heroics and deafening bursts of flame, his movie's so cloddishly organised it can't really deliver the goods.
What Culture says it fails basic action movie grammar. Money quotes:
Few will expect tight dialogue from a film like this, but it isn't unreasonable to demand taut, visceral action. Instead, Berg has no idea of balance or sustained threat; in the film's first half, the invaders are positively indefatigable, yet without much of a change of tactics in the second half, they are quite inexplicably weakened, oddly not blowing up Hopper's destroyer with the same efficiency they did the two ships during the opening attack. It is a classic action film tactic, but normally one veiled at least slightly better than it is here... With the punishingly dull, endlessly monotonous Battleship, Peter Berg has given the term "a poor man's Michael Bay" credibility, and that's a scary thing.
It's not all negative reviews, however. A few people were able to appreciate the film for what it was, and there are a smattering of "it doesn't take itself seriously, and it revels in its own silliness" reviews.
For example, Bleeding Cool thinks it's a better movie than you'd expect. Money quote:
Considering how openly silly Battleship is, it's a very smart movie. You're going to see a lot of negative reviews of Battleship, but you won't see one from me. This is a film that sets its sights low, and blows the hell out of them.
Den of Geek similarly felt the movie delivers what you expect from this sort of film:
Battleship revels in its absurdity. Its heroes fight aliens with sniper rifles and a 75-year-old ship with a crew of wizened veterans at the helm. And by the time its characters settle down to play what is effectively a scaled up version of the Battleship board game - a scene that, as ridiculous as it sounds, is quite exciting - it's hard not to be swept up in the film's batty pace.