A great start to the Summer Of Film, or has the ship sailed on popcorn blockbusters?
"You sunk my battleship." Ever since Hasbro announced that they would be bringing their board game which had seen those words uttered countless times in jest to the big screen, strategy fans everywhere have been anxious to see just how well Battleship would make the hasty transition. Having sat through the movie in its entirety, I can confirm with a great sigh of relief that this is quite possibly a lot better than you might have initially expected. The storyline is your typical blockbuster guff, detailing the events of a random alien invasion led for seemingly no reason other than to cause the meaningless extinction of the human race, with just one squadron of navy forces standing (or rather floating) against this league of extraterresterial immigrants trying to gain access without a passport. John Carter's Taylor Kitsch heads the cast as cocky lieutenant Alex Hopper with a refreshing bravado and confidence that seemed the only thing to propel his Disney fantasy effort last month, but this time he is backed up by Rihanna and Liam Neeson in strong supporting roles, as well as your standard line-up of American action flick stereotypes (the clingy girlfriends, the nerds with technology capable of fighting the aliens, the war veterans, they're all here and as cheesy as you feared thanks to the lofty script) tagging along to fill out the ranks. This would all mean nought if the CGI navy vs. alien battles everyone is essentially waiting for failed to impress, yet thanks to a budget of Michael Bay proportions we get some staggeringly beautiful setpieces thrown our way regularly to keep the action interesting and innovative throughout. Rarely does one single segment of the blown-out conflict ever seem too exaggerated, nor the effects a blatant rip-off of the Transformers franchise despite its clear legacy in certain elements such as the alien weaponary. Best of all, though, the final battle really does not let up, its denounement certainly as visually breathtaking and thus memorable as we might ever have hoped for and far more besides. Yep, if you head into Battleship wishing for little more than a no holds barred war movie with plenty of action and thrills, then you really will not fail to be able to walk out of the cinema totally satisfied with the cash shelled out for your ticket. However, as you may well have guessed from the score, there are a few major problems laden with the film that viewers looking for a little more depth will find hard to overlook. For a start, there are huge, gaping plot holes everywhere, not least with the invaders' actual motivation for their attack on our planet after a communications relay alerts them to our presence, their use for the Milky Way seemingly lost in translation on the way to attempting to match the Bayster. At first things like this don't seem much of a problem, and they certainly won't hamper the feeling of (restrained) exhiliration you'll get from the experience, yet once you've departed the screen the niggling sense that there really wasn't much substance between the guns and the explosions will pervade your thoughts. But hey, at least the actual mechanics of the board game actually get factored into the final battle quite successfully...yes, really, and you'll be surprised at just how well it works!
THE VERDICT: Battleship is certainly a strong start to the Summer Of Film in terms of scale and sheer thrills, but it's ultimately a shallow watch boasting little to tempt us back for a second viewing.