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Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgaard, Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, and NZ's own John Tui
1 / 5
On a side note, I was roped in by a friend to see the latest installment of 'American Pie'.
It can be sensible, in these kind of situations, to hold one's expectations well below knee-level, namely to retain some degree of sanity or dignity.
In this example, things turned out alright for me, and I sauntered out feeling none too molested for paying a $16 fee, and I would advise this very same tactic when approaching the truly touching, heartfelt, subtle, intelligent, dynamic, and award-deserving 'Battleship'.
In fact, below knee-level expectations would be grand, and be prepared to lower them further as we really ought to face big-screen adaptations of other board games like Monopoly, Ludo, Scrabble... perhaps Snake and Ladders? What a joy that would be.
From the very first all-American bar scene (read as: poor-quality beer, microwaveable food, orange women) the depravity has been set. But that's OK, because the expectation is low, remember?
Good. Keep it there.
Taylor Kitsch has long hair and a messy chin, after which Alexander Skarsgard pretends to shout and holler like a true US Navy man (he's Swedish), then rather suddenly, he too is in the Navy with a shaved face and a bemused expression which he holds for the film's duration (a mark for consistency, perhaps?). Turns out the orange woman he got Tasered for is Brooklyn Decker (who has a weirdly hairy face), and her father is Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) - a bigwig in the Navy consistently pissed at Mr. Kitsch's ineptitude.
There's a sweaty volleyball scene a la 'Top Gun' but with far, far less homoeroticism - which is almost disappointing - and a massive black guy with no legs and rampant PTSD which seems to cover for a complete lack of acting skill.
Then the aliens arrive in a fiery ball of destruction looking like re-purposed Transformers, which is handy because the producers guilty for destroying many a mid-20-year-old's childhood in no less than three adaptations are also responsible for the rampant crimes against humanity here.
Cue special effects, which are all very flashy and pretty and explosion-y. Alien ships jump up and down in the water, which is all very dramatic, though one does wonder why, given their ability to travel over thousands of light years with advanced weapons, they can't just fly.
But of course! Then there would be no actual playing of the game Battleship, which is the best part of an otherwise fatuous movie. Under the dark of night, with only tsunami buoys to guide their missiles, the crew of a destroyer (named after the bass player from Led Zeppelin, for God's sake) must destroy two hopping alien ships. Cue suspense and Rihanna shouting co-ordinates and pressing lots of buttons angrily.
It does get worse, though, believe me.
It does take a rather special moment to make an experience-hardened cinema-full of critics laugh loudly and simultaneously at a scene designed to be taken extremely seriously, largely consisting of the already-bumbling elderly with added slow motion.
But it happened all the same, and you'll do it too.
So remember cinema-goers, keep those expectations held firmly at shin-level, and you should do fine.
There's no telling the sheer humiliation you'll face if you don't.
'Battleship' is in NZ cinemas from April 12.