Film Review: Battleship (dir. by Peter Berg)

For nearly a year now, we’ve been seeing teasers and trailer for the film Battleship and we’ve all smirked and laughed.  “Really?  A film based on an old board game?  Alien battleships that look like they’ve escaped from a Transformers film?  Action scenes that look like Battle L.A.?  AND LIAM NEESON!?”

Yes, we’ve all been prepared to hate this film.  In fact, the most popular thing I ever tweeted (RT’d by 22 people within minutes of being posted, I might add) was a joke about how Battleship looked like it was a film specifically made for people who thought Battle L.A. was too complicated.  So, after all this build up, I finally saw Battleship on Friday and you know what?

While I wasn’t one of the many people who applauded at the end of the movie, I actually kind of enjoyed it.

(Does that make me a bad person?)

Battleship is the story of two brothers, a somber-looking admiral, and an alien invasion.  Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) is a Commander in the U.S. Navy.  In a genuinely amusing scene, his irresponsible younger brother Alex (Taylor Kitsch) is arrested while breaking into a closed convenience store so he can get a chicken burrito for Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker, a great name) who is the daughter of Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson).  Stone arranges for Alex to avoid jail by joining the U.S. Navy.

Jump forward seven years and Alex is now a lieutenant, engaged to Samantha, and hated by his future father-in-law.  When five alien ships crash into the ocean, both Stone and Alex Hopper are on the battleships sent out to investigate.  They quickly discover that the aliens are not friendly and soon, the future of humanity rests on the untested shoulders of Alex Hopper.  Well, Alex Hopper and a street-wise sailor played by Rihanna…

I really, really expected that I was going to hate Battleship and I was even kind of looking forward to coming back to the TSL Bunker and writing up my snarkiest post since my review of Avatar.  Therefore, imagine just how shocked I was as I watched the actual film and discovered that it’s actually not that bad of a time waster.  Yes, the film is predictable and the script is full of clichés and dumb dialogue but the difference between Battleship and Battle L.A. is that Battleship is aware of its own stupidity and is even willing to encourage the audience to laugh at the pure silliness of actually basing a movie on a board game.  Even the film’s final act of heroism — which features a lot of inspiring speeches and a return to duty by an iconic battleship of the past — feels less like typical third act posturing and more like a very deliberate parody on the conventions of recent U.S. Military Vs. Alien Invaders films.  Whereas films like Battle L.A. and Acts of Valor often feel like recruiting films for the military, Battleship feels like a recruiting film for movies about the military.  The CGI looks good, the battle scenes are nicely done and director Peter Berg seems to be having fun finding ways to visually remind us of the original Battleship game.  Taylor Kitsch makes for a surprisingly likable hero, Liam Neeson grimaces through his 6-minutes of screen time, and Alexander Skarsgard is to die for in his white naval uniform.  Even Rihanna appears to be having fun uttering silly lines like, “Boom” and “Mahalo, motherfucker.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Battleship is hardly a masterpiece.  It’s about 20 minutes too long and there’s a few times, especially during the middle of the film, when Battleship seems to run out of momentum.  Fortunately, every time this happens, Taylor Kitsch delivers another hardboiled line or Liam Neeson grimaces as he stares out at the alien fleet and the film picks back up again.  Battleship isn’t a great film and it might not even be a good film but it’s hardly the crime against humanity that I was expecting.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Deadly Hope (dir. by Nicolas Monette)

Last night, as I attempted to drift off to sleep, I turned on the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched the Canadian thriller, Deadly Hope.

Why Was I Watching It?

First off, it was on the Lifetime Movie Network and that’s always a good sign.  Secondly, how can you not watch something called Deadly Hope?

What Was It About?

So, Joanne (Alana De La Garza) is an obstetrician whose life is turned upside down when her partner at the fertility clinic is murdered by a mysterious assailant.  Joanne deals with her grief by having a one-night stand with a random stranger and soon, that random stranger is also murdered by a mysterious assailant.  Could the two crimes be connected and will the audience notice that all the locations in the film look rather Canadian?  That’s up to Detective Denise Landers (Sandrine Holt) to figure out.

What Worked?

Oh my God, this movie was scary!  Now, I know what you’re doing.  You’re laughing at me because you’re all like, “C’mon, Lisa — it’s a Canadian Lifetime movie!”  Well, all I can say is that you weren’t there.  Okay, the killer doesn’t just strangle or shoot people — instead, he stabs them with this little hypodermic needle that he carries around with him and it just looks like a really painful way to die.  Add to that, the killer just keeps popping up out of nowhere, much like the murderer in Dario Argento’s underrated giallo Opera.

Though she might not be a household name, Sandrine Holt is one of my favorite actresses, mostly because she always seems to be so unimpressed with everything happening around her.

What Did Not Work?

Actually, most of the film didn’t work and it was largely because Joanne was such an unsympathetic character and it didn’t help that quite a few otherwise likable  characters ended up getting killed just because they made the mistake of knowing her.  As played by Alana De La Garza, Joanne seems to be more annoyed by the inconvenience of having to deal with multiple murders than anything else.

Add to that, even by the standards of a Canadian movie, the film’s final twist kinda came out of nowhere.

“Oh My God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’m tempted to say that there were absolutely no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments in this film but that’s not quite true.  For instance, Joanne gets annoyed when her annoying neighbor just wanders, unannounced, into her living room and I would have the same reaction.

And, of course, every time Joanne has a one-night stand, it ends in a bloody murder.  That’s nothing like me … or is it?  *Cue ominous music*

Lessons Learned

Not everything made in Canada is as good as Degrassi.

Trailer: Skyfall (dir. by Sam Mendes)

We finally get the return of Britain’s deadliest and world-renowend “Double-O” agent with Sam Mendes’ Skyfall.

It’s been quite a long time since Marc Foster’s underwhelming Quantum of Solace with MGM’s subsequent bankruptcy being one of the major causes for the delay of this film being made. With the MGM bit now out of the way James Bond finally returns to the big screen with Daniel Craig once again donning the Walther and the tuxedo to play the debonair and ruthless killer agent that Ian Fleming made famous through his spy novels.

This teaser doesn’t show much other than some bits of action (one of which looks like it might’ve been lifted out of a level of Modern Warfare 3) and Bond being coldly ominous about people coming to get him and “M”. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Bond films and even when they don’t go over so well I still enjoy myself. They also tend to have a different director with each and every film which gives each film a different take on the character of Bond. This time around we have Sam Mendes in the director’s chair and it’ll be interesting to see how well he handles the thriller genre and action.

Skyfall is set for an October 26, 2012 release date.