For "Battleship" it's a Sink or Swim Weekend"
WKYC Contributor Karina Mitchell
Inspired by, of all things, a classic board game, Universal's adaptation of Hasbro's popular "Battleship" game sets sail this weekend and despite reviews that for the most part lampoon the the $200 million film, look for it to swim in a sea of green by the end of its opening weekend state side.
The Peter Berg directed sci-fi action adventure has already grossed more than $170 million in overseas ticket sales and the studio's strategy seems to have been to release the movie overseas first to avoid an insurmountable run-in with the record shattering "Marvel's The Avengers" still driving the box office domestically.
Battleship employs a relatively low key, albeit, attractive cast. Taylor Kitsch ("John Carter," "Friday Night Lights") and Alexander Skarsgard ("True Blood) play brothers Alex and Stone, navy recruits, who couldn't be more different from one another personality wise. Brooklyn Decker comes aboard as Sam Shane, an easy on the eyes physical therapist, who is Alex' fiancée, as well as Admiral Shane's (Liam Neeson) daughter. Shane is also Alex and Stone's superior commander. If it sounds convoluted, not to worry. That's as complicated as the plot gets. There is no storyline to this sci-fi epic, whose premise seems to be to make as much noise as humanly possible. That's okay though. Berg seems to make no apologies for taking this film and jumping off the deep end into an abyss of no-brainer action. He certainly doesn't take any of the plot seriously. Neither does the cast.
Modeled somewhat after "Independence Day," it quickly morphs into an over-the-top spectacle. Berg's film is saturated with an assault of torpedoes wreaking havoc when aliens (finally) invade. The first half hour of the film is devoted to showcasing Kitsch's character as a free-spirited rebel, with no moral substance - the polar opposite of his brother - and the reason he is forced to join the Navy. It's a while later he finds himself about to embark on a crucial international naval exercise, which is when he decides to ask the Admiral for permission to marry his daughter. The action finally starts when aliens destroy an entire city. Hong Kong is decimated and entire naval fleets soon follow suit in a film that is characterized as much by the cacophony it unleashes, as by the visuals of things blowing up. Think "Transformers" on steroids. Never a quiet moment once the aliens are on the attack. Pop songstress Rihanna makes her acting debut, playing a weapons expert and though only given minimal lines, makes more of an impression than Decker. Neeson's sparse screen time, nevertheless, provides respite from the otherwise non-existent character plots that turn this film into a sinking ship.
Still, that's not to say this film doesn't stand a change to navigate its way to a strong showing this weekend. Universal is betting heavily that teenage boys and those seeking some unadulterated escapism will come in droves to buoy ticket sales. The support will be much needed to keep this film from turning into a shipwreck amongst the sea of summer blockbusters it is up against. "Battleship" opens sandwiched between two mega summer releases - the "Avengers" and next week "Men in Black III." Given the tides and the failure of the last big board game movie, 1985's "Clue," it will be interesting to see how long "Battleship" stays afloat.