‘Battleship’ Sinks Not as Much as You’d Think

Angel Silva, El Vaquero Staff Writer

Movies based on games have flopped miserably, often scoring low box office scores and enraging gamers and filmgoers alike. From video game movies such as “Tekken” (2010), “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” (2009), and board game films such as “Clue” (1985) films based off games have been criticized for deviating from the original game’s vision and not creating a world that parallels that of the game.

Despite being corny at times, “Battleship” doesn’t fall under this category.

Based off the board game with the same name, “Battleship” stars Taylor Kitsch (“John Carter,” 2012) as Alex Hopper, a jobless slouch living with his brother, Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård, “Melancholia,” 2011). With his help, Alex joins the Navy and becomes a lieutenant, working under Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, “Taken,” 2008) in a Hawaiian branch.

Meanwhile, a satellite research base in Hawaii receives a response from a signal sent from Earth five years prior to the start of the movie. Apparently, something from the far reaches of space got their message — and replied by arriving to take over the planet in morphing warships.

The space battleships (which look like the result a torrid affair between a Pokemon and a Transformer) land in the Pacific Ocean, near the area where Admiral Shane’s fleet and others are practicing naval maneuvers. The Navy is soon overwhelmed by the extraterrestrial forces, and Alex finds himself responsible for the remaining naval forces, and for the rest of the world.

The main thing that sets “Battleship” apart from other film adaptations of games is that the game itself is simple — sink your opponent’s ships without the help of radar. This simplicity allows the film to take any direction in terms of story, and the results help “Battleship” avoid the “bad game film” stigma.

There’s a lot of eye candy to go around — from the alien ships to Alex’s love interest and Admiral Shane’s daughter, Samantha (Brooklyn Decker, “Just Go With It,” 2011). The sea battle scenes are creative and flashy, although on occasion too flashy. A note to director Peter Berg: there is such a thing as too much camera glare.

The acting is hollow at times, with scenes where the dialogue feels as if it’s being read off a script. The humor sometimes feels forced, and although there are genuinely funny moments in the film, half of them feel contrived, and some fall flat.

“Battleship” is loud. Really loud. Aside from the explosions, the film features music from AC/DC, ZZ Top and more. Combined with actual ships used by the Navy, the soundtrack gives off a patriotic air that doesn’t feel too forced or overimposed.

One neat quirk about “Battleship” is the large amount of easter eggs. Footage from actual TV and online video is used throughout the movie (there’s even a scene with President Barack Obama). A cool little detail involves the shape of the alien’s artillery — they’re shaped like the pieces used in the actual game. Also, Rihanna is in the film, and in one of the scenes she hums one of her songs.

All in all, “Battleship” is a decent attempt at a board game film adaptation that takes a premise with no previous story to it and presents it as a somewhat-original story with stunning visuals.

“Battleship” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language and runs for 131 minutes.