Thursday, May 24, 2012

Man on Film: Battleship

To hear people talk about Battleship, one would assume it is as bad as Transformers. It seems like the bulk of the reviewing masses want to shoe-horn that film into their reviews. As someone who was never able to make it past the 30-minute mark of Transformers, I can safely say Battleship is nowhere near that bad. For starters, the action sequences aren't chopped up so much as to render the events unintelligible. Is it a great film? No, but I'd hardly say that was the intent.

The very picture of the masculine ideal
Without delving into the larger issue as to whether Hollywood has, in fact, run out of ideas when Hasbro has launched a film division, Battleship as a stand-alone film is perfectly suitable. It is an event film; as such, it seems as though one is predestined to sit through a film with a handful of non-actors. In this case, the audience is subjected to Rihanna's first foray into the world of "acting" and the continued attempt to sell Brooklyn Decker to the masses as this generation's Kathy Ireland. These are regrettable casting choices, but neither are total hindrances to being able to enjoy the film at face value. There is also an unusual number of supporting cast members that are actually veterans. On an obvious level, this is an admirable decision on director Peter Berg's part, but--especially in the leaden and interminable physical therapy scenes with Brooklyn Decker--this can make for some rough scenes.

Luckily, the film has the charisma bomb Taylor Kitsch in it. Maybe I'm so much in his camp that I'm beyond impartiality, but this is two huge Kitsch vehicles this year that have, ummmm, not done especially well. While Oliver Stone's Savages still gives one hope for a future of three Taylor Kitsch flicks a year, it hasn't been the best of years for the prospects of a Taylor Kitsch-owned Hollywood. Kitsch delivers here again. The sometimes clunking behemoth of Battleship keeps chugging along thanks in large part to Kitsch. Sure, Berg hits the not-so-subtle notes that would make Roland Emmerich proud and pulls the right strings at the right beats, but it is that combination of impish charm and rugged masculinity in the package that is Taylor Kitsch that makes the film palatable. I say this all as a straight male--a claim that becomes harder and harder to believe each time I review a Taylor Kitsch film.

Really, what it all comes down to is that Battleship isn't so dumb as to have deserved the heaping helpings of scorn it's received. It's far from a great film. There are absolutely better ways for the innocuous entity we'll call "Hollywood" to have spent its money. Those ways likely do not include making films inspired by board games--I'm looking at you, Candyland. Sometimes turning your brain off and enjoying a ride isn't the worst thing in the world.

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