DIR: Peter Berg • WRI: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber • PRO: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Duncan Henderson, Bennett Schneir, Scott Stuber • DOP: Tobias A. Schliessler • ED: Colby Parker Jr., Billy Rich, Paul Rubell • DES: Neil Spisak • Cast: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams
Peter Berg’s directorial career has been… erratic. From the little-seen gems Very Bad Things and Friday Night Lights (the movie the very popular TV show is based on), to the underappreciated The Rundown and The Kingdom, Berg hit the blockbuster big-time with Hancock, then disappeared for four years, and returned with this Michael Bay-esque mash-up of Pearl Harbour and Transformers. Anticipation was already set pretty low since this was based on a Hasbro board-game (who also double as the producers of the movie), but now with added aliens, and it features the big-screen debut of Rihanna.
The ‘plot’ consists of two brothers, one who is a total mess (Taylor Kitsch, now 0 for 2 this year after John Carter) and one who is not a total mess (Alexander Skarsgard). They are both in the navy, both under the command of Admiral Liam Neeson, the daughter of whom Kitsch wants to marry. During some routine naval games, some spaceships land nearby, set up an impenetrable energy fence, and everyone starts shooting at each other. That’s about it.
If you like explosions, there’s a good chance you will like this movie. The weaponry on display is fetishized to pornographic levels, and boy howdy, do they sure blow up stuff good. The action sequences are well handled, the SFX are great, and there is some fun to be had in the mindless destruction as the massive metal ships get very loudly torn to shreds.
The acting isn’t awful, ranging from the fine-but-forgettable Kitsch, to the cash-chequeing-in Neeson, to the not-as-bad-as-it-could-have-been Rihanna, but unfortunately they are done in by one of the single worst screenplays ever committed to screen. For a $200 million production, you would think they’d have forked out a couple to a decent writer to at least make the dialogue palatable. But no, every line is clunky and laboured, every plot development is devoured by HUGE plot holes, and the idea of minorities (Nerds! The differently abled! Old people! Women!) coming together to save the day ends up being accidentally hilarious.
Oh, and for one last kick to the critical groin, at no point does anyone say, ‘You’ve sunk my Battleship.’ For shame, Peter Berg. For shame…