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Released 11 April 2012
Director Peter Berg

Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Jesse Plemons, John Bell
Writer(s) Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber

Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Duncan Henderson, Bennett Schneir, Scott Stuber
Origin United States
Running Time 131 minutes
Genre Action, sci-fi, thriller
Rating 12A

Bored game.

The very existence of the film Battleship – the new blockbuster based on the classic board game – seems to suggest that Hollywood has run out of ideas. However director Peter Berg has basically admitted that the connection serves as little more than brand recognition, allowing him to make the big budget “Transformers at sea” movie he always dreamed of.

References to the board game are few and far between, and any time they crop up seem forced and out of place prompting dialogue so ridiculous it could be taken as spoof or satire if everyone wasn’t trying to play it so straight. Nobody actually says, "You sunk my battleship", but if they had it would be an improvement.

While Battleship certainly looks impressive – the strong mix of actual footage of US navy warships and state of the art special effects are visually dazzling – but there is no underlying substance to back this up. The film is too fast paced to build any tension, and jumps haphazardly from one action set-piece to the next without the slightest hint of character development.

The reason for the total lack of character development is that the heroes take a back seat to the special effects, resulting in an unlikeable group of people who are difficult to relate to or root for. Even Liam Neeson gives little more than a phone in performance (although when Neeson phones it in it still has all the intensity of that phone call from Taken). For most of the film his gruff admiral sits on the side lines of the action, and the few short cameo appearances he does get are not enough to save the film from mediocrity.

Much has been made of the fact that global superstar Rihanna is making her feature film debut, but her tiny part does little to showcase any particular acting skills. She does make the most of some awful dialogue, but her character seems only to exist to look attractive and act tough as she hovers in the background carrying out orders. She doesn’t exactly shine, but only because she is never given the chance to.

There is practically nothing in this film that hasn’t been done elsewhere before, most notably in the Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, as well as other Michael Bay blockbusters like Armageddon and Pearl Harbour, with an unhealthy does of J.J. Abrams style lens flare thrown in for no discernible reason. All of these films have something more to offer than Battleship, which is either a shameless cash in by Hasbro, or a shameless rip-off of other directors’ style by Berg.

To say Michael Bay could have directed a better film isn’t exactly the greatest compliment a filmmaker can receive, but it’s about the best thing I can say about Battleship.

- Bernard O’Rourke