Battleship: How to Get a Sinking Feeling at the Cinema

If Ed Wood had a budget of a $100 million to throw around, even he might not have been able to direct a film as godawful as Battleship -- or as in poor taste. This cheesy exploitation of our men in uniform, including those who lost their limbs overseas in the belief they were fighting to preserve democracy, makes you almost cringe at the hubris of the Hollywood types who pulled this fiasco together.

There is basically no plot. The direction is nil. The acting is uneven. (Brooklyn Decker is clearly up for a Razzie this year.) The screenplay is truly one of the worst of the year so far, and that’s saying a lot. If you can sit through the film’s first half hour without wondering if anything is ever going to happen, you are either brain dead or an eleven-year-old boy.

Brian Goldner, the president and CEO of Hasbro, and one of the producers of this crapola, clearly has a cash register where his heart ought to be. Let’s hope his intestines at least function, because if he’s suffering from fecal retention, he’s a goner.

But before I go on rhapsodizing about Battleship's merits, please note that the folks at Universal Pictures have politely instructed that "during the course of your reporting or reviewing, we request that you not reveal plot points toward the film’s climax and conclusion so those surprises are retained for the audience."

What plot points?  What surprises?

Well, in the beginning some scientists convey messages to a newly discovered planet that seems to profit from the same environment as Planet Earth's.  Maybe there are friendly life forms over there who will send back some Chanukah cheer. Oh, no, instead of dreidels, we get mean-spirited spaceships and whiskered aliens who desire to put the kibosh on the human race. Who can save us? Lieutenant Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), that's who! This ex-alcoholic, self-centered, overgrown tot -- who thinks nothing of breaking into a store through its ceiling to get a burrito for a pretty blonde he just met in a bar -- will be our knight in shining armor.

Instantly, Kitch as Hopper does again what he did for <i>John Carter</i>. He makes us want to stay home and watch the second season of <i>Sherlock</i>on PBS.

Uninvolving, charmless, unimaginative, yet loud with loads of metal-upon- metal destruction, <i>Battleship</i>turns out to be as pleasant as being stuck in 1974 Volvo with squeaky windshield wipers on a rainy day.

But there is a plus side; Rihanna is not bad as Petty Officer Cora "Weps" Raikes, and Pres. Obama doesn't embarrass himself in a cameo. Yet  everything else in this totally improbable adaptation of a board game feels torpedoed. However, just chalk this one up as a learning lesson. The next two projects Universal and Hasbro are working on sound quite promising: 3-D versions of Q-Tips and Anusol. - Brandon Judell

brandon.jpgMr. Judell is currently teaching "Queer Theater" and "Theater of the Sixties" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire.com, The New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton).

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