Battleship you’ve put me in a bit of a predicament. The noise surrounding this 2012 release, directed by Peter Berg and starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson, was such that I went into this film already armed with some highly scathing opinions. Calls of ‘Transformers on Water’ and ‘film making of the most cynical order’ are certainly not unfounded but, it has to be said, I kind of, sort of liked it.
Now lets be clear this film has a lot wrong with it. The dialogue and sheer volume of clichés in Battleship were borderline abhorrent and all the characters had little to no emotional substance; Liam Neeson was completely redundant, but thankfully his screen time amounts to very little. He’s wheeled on to bark out a few clichés and then disappeared into the abyss as soon as he appeared. The deaths of numerous main characters are brushed over with little to no emotional response and moments that could have been poignant were lost behind sickly, swelling music and cheesy rhetoric. However these moments are somewhat forgiveable as the films ultimate goal is not to deliver memorable prose.
What Battleship does do is deliver on effects, drama and extremely competently produced set pieces. If we are going to compare, then what Transformers failed to do was to ever truly engage the viewer in the action. The noise, speed and sheer chaos of the action was bewildering and resulted in a frustrating watch. Here Battleship excels. The action sequences are faultlessly executed with extensive set pieces sewn together in easily followable and exciting scenes. I don’t know about you but seeing convincing battleships in full combat mode really pushed my buttons. The drama draws you in and creates a circus of stylish explosions and mind-blowing CGI spaceships. It is just such a shame the cinematic thread that wove all this stylistic fabric together was pure tripe.
Battleship may be a case of having the bar of expectation set so low anything above remotely average was pleasing, but ultimately the set pieces were slickly executed, genuinely thrilling and the CGI was insanely good. Yes there are better sci-fi films available, and yes the dialogue was borderline disgraceful, but as a spectacle and a piece of pure unadulterated, turn-off-your-brain entertainment, I liked it. And I don’t care who knows it. Transformers wishes that its own action was this coherent and entertaining.