By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
REVIEW (GRADE: C-)
An empty-calorie hodgepodge of Top Gun, Transformers, Pearl Harbor, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Peter Berg’s Battleship represents the next frontier for Hollywood’s making money off of established brands. With movies already based off of theme park rides, video games, and toys, audiences now have a summer blockbuster based off of a board game. There is dumb fun to be had with this “Navy-vs-aliens” thriller, but one has to wade through numerous cliches, hammy dialogue, and tired, predictable character archs to reach it.
During its first act, Battleship plays like any other mindless, special-effects-driven summer movie: it’s painfully written, with one-note, uninspired characters. Taylor Kitsch delivers more of the hotheaded bravado he brought to John Carter, without that character’s intelligence and charisma (he gets slightly better as the film progresses). Liam Neeson is underused. Strangely, pop star Rihanna acquits herself well in her first movie role, bringing some tough-girl spunk to an underwritten character. In the middle portion the film starts to gain some traction as the action is dialed up to a 9. In the third act it decides to stop aping other movies (and to not to take itself so seriously) and at about the time the film starts literally living up to its title (you’ll know it when you see it), it delivers some grin-inducing fun, unleashing heavy rounds of humor and crowd-pleasing thrills. For fans of bombastic drivel, Battleship hits home. All others can set sail for better waters.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Battleship is rated PG-13. It contains a fair amount of moderate profanity and two implied f-words (it’s clear what is about to be said, but it’s interrupted). There is some hand-to-hand combat and firefighting between soldiers and aliens (an alien gets its teeth knocked out), as well as copious amounts of explosive destruction. A woman in a bikini top and short shorts straddles her boyfriend on the beach while they discuss getting married.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: It is in the most trying times that we prove ourselves and experience the most growth.
For a superior ocean adventure, I highly recommend Moby Dick, with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.