Thursday, July 31, 2014


Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions accouint.

I remember seeing these mock coming attractions for a movie based on Where’s Waldo.  It was pretty clever.  They had Waldo as someone trying to evade several groups like the mob, if I recall.  The police may have been after him, too.  There was even another mock trailer for a movie from someone else based on Minesweeper.  It struck me as odd that you could essentially make a movie from any source material.  (I think the Minesweeper trailer may have been implying that Hollywood was doing just that.)

Then, one day, I saw a trailer for Battleship.  Except this one wasn’t a mock trailer.  It was an actual trailer for an actual movie called Battleship.  I asked myself if it was the same Battleship that I used to play as a kid.  Turns out, it was.  I had to see this just to see what they had done with the premise.  Instead of seeing it in the theaters, I waited for it to come out on DVD.

The most obvious reference to the board game was the name.  Since there were no characters or real plot in the game, most of the rest of the movie is new.  It starts with the announcement of an Earth-like planet being found far, far away.  A signal being sent to the planet in hopes of making friendly contact.  Meanwhile, Alex and Stone Hopper in a bar celebrating Alex’s birthday.  Alex has an interest in the beautiful Samantha.  Alex nearly gets arrested trying to impress her.  Stone gives him the option of joining him in the Navy instead of going to jail, which Alex accepts.  You see, Samantha’s father is an admiral.  This should impress her to no end.

We cut to the present day.  Alex is still a screw-up, but now he’s a lieutenant.  He’s serving aboard the USS John Paul Jones.  Stone is the commanding officer of the USS Sampson.  The two brothers and their respective ships are set to do training exercises with a Japanese ship.  Samantha’s father is there.  He’s the admiral running the training exercises.  While underway, five alien ships show up.  One crashes into a satellite and destroys a good chunk of Hong Kong in the process.  The remaining four end up in the Pacific Ocean not far from the training exercises.

The aliens set up a force field encompassing Hawaii and the surrounding ocean, cutting the Sampson, John Paul Jones and a Japanese ship off from the rest of the world.  Alex is sent over to have a look at one of the alien ships.  When Alex touches the ship, the aliens very quickly destroy the Sampson and the Japanese ship, leaving some survivors.   When Alex makes it back to the John Paul Jones, he finds out that the commanding and executive officers are both dead, leaving him in command.  It’s up to Alex to defend the Earth.

There weren’t many references to the board game that I caught initially.  In fact, Alex points out that actual battleships have been retired.  (The modern-day portion begins on the USS Missouri, a battleship that‘s now a museum.  The three active-duty ships are all destroyers.)  There is one line where someone says something to the effect of, “They’re not going to sink this battleship.”  The aliens also fire something similar to the pegs used in the game.  Other than that, it wasn’t until I started looking at IMDb and other sites that I realized the other references.

I came into the movie not really expecting much.  I knew that the connection to the board game would be thin.  I just had to see what they did with it.  That being said, it was a pretty decent action movie.  What do you think you’ll get from a movie called Battleship?  It’s mostly fighting with the story being about a kid who goes from wasting his talent to leading a crew to victory.

Yes, there were plot holes.   For starters, how did Alex go from getting in trouble at every chance to not only being a lieutenant, but the commanding officer of a ship?  I’ve heard of people being given the choice of military service as an alternative to jail hoping that the service will straighten them out.  Usually, it does.  However, right before the main action, Alex starts a fight with the captain of the Japanese ship, which does not impress Samantha’s father.  In fact, Stone informs Alex that he’ll likely face court-martial upon their return.

It actually surprised me that they used a board game.  It could have gone horribly wrong.  At least with something like a comic book, you have a well-structured universe in place.  This isn’t to say that the movie was spectacular.  The movie seemed to be more a vehicle for the CGI and some in-jokes related to the game.  The movie was at least enjoyable.  There are worse ways to spend 131 minutes.  I’m just not holding my breath for Scrabble:  The Movie.

 Battleship Movie - trailer HD

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