Review – E17! Miss! B22! Miss! F45! Hit! (“Battleship”, etc.)

Hey! You sunk my battleship! Sound familiar? It should! Hasbro’s “Battleship” has been a board game staple since 1967. Now director Peter Berg (“Hancock”) and Universal Studios have brought it to the screen with massive CGI effects, a witty but plot-hole riddled script, and some impressive production values.

In 2005, the U.S. sent a signal from a remote Hawaiian array to a distant planet. Fast-forward to today, “they” decided to respond… and not nicely. Meanwhile, lovable Naval officer and slacker Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch–better here than his “John Carter” gig) loves Samantha (super-hot Brooklyn Decker) whose daddy is Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson–too little seen on screen). Let’s just say daddy isn’t crazy about Alex.

Anyway, during some friendly naval exercises with the Japanese, the aliens make their presence known and form a force-field, sealing a few Navy ships inside with them as they launch an attack on the mainland using some gi-nourmous buzzsaw-speedballs. Alex’s brother is killed and he is made captain of the last ship inside the forcefield dome.

With his crackerjack crew, GM2 Cora (pop singer Rhianna–very good), Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), and cut-up Ordy (Jesse Plemons–excellent), they wage a futile effort to battle the huge alien water crafts with ONLY guns and bombs. Nobody in this film has lasers!! Imagine that, a clearly advanced alien civilization that doesn’t have that technology! Weird.

Anywho, while the nasty water craft take care of the Navy ships, the aliens have an agenda: alter the array on the hill to send a signal back home, presumably to tell the others to attack! Stopping them is Samantha, geeky scientist Cal (Hamish Linklater), and bitter ex-military man Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadsen, a real-life Army vet & double amputee).

Battles are fought, ships and lives are lost, and the U.S.S. Missouri is brought out of mothballs in Pearl Harbor and back into full action… with some of the original crew! Impressive. Sure, it’s full of hokey dialogue, plot holes, and it’s an obvious propaganda Navy recruitment film, but it’s got more heart and feeling than its predecessor’s “Skyline” and “Battlefield: Los Angeles” put together. Watch for the clever and tricky homages to the board game ladled into the movie, too.


“Battleship” isn’t the first “Earth vs Aliens” movie plot to come down the pipe and it won’t be the last, believe me. So, in trying to do my comparison with “Battleship” with another movie of similar type, I found myself in a bit of a quandary – there were TOO many! So, I thought I’d give a run down of some of my favorite’s instead:

“Independence Day” – Will Smith at his best in this blockbuster of blockbusters. Forget the fact that millions and millions of people are killed, this movie is dragged out on TV every July 4th and for good reason. Hugely entertaining and Jeff Goldblum as a MIT graduate working as a cable TV manager. Cool.

“E.T. The Extra-terrestrial” – Steven Spielberg captured everyones heart(light) with this phenomenal masterpiece that is his purest, richest, most beautiful story that never fails to tug at the heartstrings. Who doesn’t tear up when Elliot talks to “dead” E.T.? A small note: Steve, didja have to change the guns to walkie-talkies? Really?

“War of the Worlds” – The 1953 version, NOT the remake with Tom Cruise. Rich in technicolor and acting, this H.G. Wells story of the invasion from Mars is impressive with the war ships looking genuinely scary, even though they were large puppets. Damn good direction and fine set design. Thank you George Pal for producing this film!

“The Day The Earth Stood Still” – Again, NOT the remake with Keanu Reeves. 1951 gave us this great film that introduced to the world the weirdest musical instrument known to mankind, the ‘theremin.’ It also gave us “klaatu barada nikto”, the words that told Gort, the enigmatic robot to save its owner, Michael Rennie. A classic amongst classics.

“Twilight Zone: Season 3: Episode 89. “To Serve Man” “Mr. Chambers, don’t get on that ship! The rest of the book…”To Serve Man”…it’s…it’s a cookbook!” Those are the words that give this TZ episode it’s final coup de grace in a script written by Rod Serling himself. One of the very best episodes on one of the very best TV shows in history.

“Starman” – I had SUCH a huge crush on Karen Allen when I first saw this movie in 1984. Jeff Bridges is the alien who takes over the identity of her dead husband and then kidnaps Karen to New Mexico. On the way he falls in love with her while being pursued by the evil government. Those wicked cool space marbles he carries? Nice!!

“John Carpenter’s The Thing” – Now you’ve done it! You’ve awoken a frozen alien in the Arctic that can assimilate humans! Who will survive? Kurt Russell (at his finest) leads a stellar cast with non-stop amazing NON-CGI alien creature effects by Rob Bottin, student of effects master Rick Baker. Who is “the thing” at the end? Who knows?

Check them all out on Netflix or a video store near you…

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