Top critical review
Comes on great guns,goes out with a fizzle
on October 22, 2012
Battleship(released April/12)is another enterprise/film similar to Transformers(their property also)in look and feel.We have the great CGI effects and the grandiose musical score.The movie traveled along pretty well until about the 70 minute mark,then it seemed to lose its steam,failed to capture its initial excitement and coasted the rest of the way out.The film stars Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant Alex Hopper,Liam Neeson as Admiral Terrance Shane,among others.
The plot involves Kitsch as a smart but out of control 26 years old,with no solid direction in life and who lives with his brother,a commander in the Navy.After getting arrested his brother has had enough of his antics and enlists him in the Navy also.Fast forward and Kitsch is a lieutenant on board a destroyer.The back story to all this is that a group of scientists have found a planet outside our solar system that is much like earth and are sending signals to it via a sophisticated satellite array.
Admiral Terrance puts his ship fleet on maneuvers along with several other countries,in the Pacific.While his ships are engaged in this,five alien objects enter earth's atmosphere with most flying into the ocean,while one crashes through the city of Hong Kong,creating much damage.
While authorities are examining the wreckage of the Hong Kong crash and determining that it's metal is of unknown origin,things are happening in the waters near the fleet exercises.Kitsch has been put in charge of a destroyer and his crew examine some unusual objects sticking out of the water.While on top of one of the protrusions,Kitsch is zapped by an electrical current and thrown back.Suddenly the piece he was standing on raises out of the water and we see that it was a small part of a larger space craft,and they are not happy campers.
Before you can say John Paul Jones the fight is on.The aliens have two very destructive weapons:first are hamburger shaped and wizzing dynamos which when they land destroy anything inanimate,and the second thing are smaller projectiles which impact a ships surface and almost immediately explode with usually fatal and horrific results(similar in shape to the pegs in the game Battleship).Both of these weapons are used to great success throughout the film,but at this point they almost completely disable and/or sink the fleet of ships in the area.They also throw up a round and enveloping bubble of energy,that is virtually impenetrable.This energy field essentially isolates a few of the fleet's ships while excluding the rest.It is a good way of protecting the alien's main contingent while also testing their battle skills against Earth's.
Back in Hawaii where the space arrays were set up to contact the alien world,the aliens themselves have come to roost there.They need the array itself to send a message back to their home world,as it is believed the one that crashed into Hong Kong was its main communication device.Kitsch's girlfriend manages to contact Kitsch and tell him that the satellite that the dishes line up with,will be in sync in a short time and that he must destroy the arrays before they do.Out in the Pacific,what is left of the fleet is just one ship.Through the use of Tsunami buoys in the ocean(the idea of a Japanese commander),they calculate the positions of the alien ships.They eventually manage to destroy all three of the alien battle space ships but their last remaining battleship is destroyed;and they need to destroy the mother ship creating the large force field.
They return to Pearl Harbour where Kitsch gets an idea to take out the old USS Missouri battleship,decommissioned since /92 and now a floating museum,and the only vessel within the energy bubble.With the help of some old vets,Kitsch gets his wish.They re-enter the fight and take down the remaining alien ship and the force field.Before the USS Missouri can be taken out by the aliens the fleet,previously on the outside looking in,now enters the fray and destroys the final ship along with the arrays.
The film ends as everyone who survived is being awarded medals.
The film is good until about the 70 minute mark.We had been intro'd to the main plot(attack of aliens and our reaction),and the side plot of the transmitting arrays;even the sub plot involving Kitsch and the admirals daughter.Up until that mark the film does a good job at integrating all plots and keeping the pace up.The film's pace slows considerably after the main battle is through and the filmmakers seem to want to concentrate too much on Kitschs's girlfriend and her involvement with the arrays,an amputee serviceman and one of the array techies.Of course it is germane to the story but after the wild battle ride we had just experienced,the rather slow pace and less exciting events on the ground seem a world away from what is happening out in the water;where the action really is.The film tries to get the dynamic up again,as events in the water start to build inexorably,but they never do reach the intensity of what had come initially.And besides this,whatever events do happen on the ground,they all originate from the battle out at sea.
As an aside,I was wondering what Hasbro is doing these days with their properties,such as Transformers and this one,besides trying to make more money from them? Those games and toys were first discovered by kids way back when,and it is kids generally who still play with them.But these movies are not geared for kids,as they're way too intense.More like they're geared for the kids that have grown up and first discovered them when they first came out.Although I can see parents these days either still getting their kids into seeing these films and/or letting them watch the movie either when they rent or buy it on DVD;NOT recommended by me at any time.
Finally this film is a tribute to armed forces veterans everywhere.They are present(real vets)in both official ceremonies in the beginning and at the end of the film.Also appearing is Gregory D. Gadson as Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales.He is seen here as the double amputee and the man Kitsch's girlfriend is assigned to.Gadson is a well known and decorated war hero in real life and it was a really nice touch adding such a person to the acting roster.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include three featurettes.
All in all a movie with a good potential,which they fulfill until about the 70 minute mark,then it all starts to unravel.This is an effects driven picture,in sound and look and should have been better than it was.Hasbro's Transformers got it the first time and fizzled out the second time.Maybe since they fizzled out the first time here,they will get it the second time around.3 1/2 stars.