A film based on a classic board game? It sounds almost the perfect definition of the current lazy attitude in Hollywood to the generation of original material.
The thing is, actor turned director Peter Berg, who has directed the great Very Bad Things, the good Friday Night Lights on which the hit TV series was based, as well as the fun Will Smith vehicle Hancock held his hand up to helm this particular effort. With someone of his considerable talent on board, there's a slight chance that this film couldn't be nearly as bad as the concept suggests, right?
While at a bar, a slightly drunk Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) gets into a bit of trouble over a girl and a burrito. But let's face it, who hasn't? It turns out that said girl is Samantha (Brooklyn Decker); Alex falls for her pretty hard, which wouldn't normally be a problem, but her old man is Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), who's quite a bigwig in the US Navy. This proves to be even more problematic as Alex has a brother, Stone (Alexander Skarsgård), who also just so happens to be in the navy.
This problem seems to be alleviated somewhat when the next time we see Alex he's in the navy, despite vehemently claiming earlier that he would never join his brother on the high seas. Boys.
Although it's difficult to ascertain how long Alex has been in the navy exactly, he's already reached the impressive rank of Tactical Actions Officer. He must clearly be on some high seas fast track system.
When the fleet are out on a standard exercise mission, they're soon confronted with objects hailing down from the sky. On closer inspection, the objects turn out to be aliens, and none too friendly.
With Alex's ship separated by the rest of the fleet by a giant forcefield, it's down to him and his crew to take on the unknown might of an alien race. It seems a tall order, but as anyone with a nautical bone in their body knows, anything can happen at sea.
After watching Battleship, it's difficult to work out which emotion is the strongest: disappointment that someone like Peter Berg is involved, or the incredible level of hate it manages to create within whilst watching it. It's a close call, but hate wins hands down.
This film fails on virtually every single front. One of the biggest offenders is the story, what there is of one. Even in its simplest form – the US navy take on aliens at sea – it manages to frustrate. After a while, with nothing on an emotional level to attach to, the film suffers from an onslaught of combat fatigue. After wave after wave of some admittedly striking special effects, it's all too easy to become numb to it all.
It's clearly a high-concept film, but it has nothing more to add than that. The script feels like it was conceived, using yet another board game Scrabble, by randomly taking tiles out of the bag and sticking them in the script. Its attempt at humour also falls flat on its face; it's as if the writers have taken a perfectly good joke in English, translated it into Latvian via an online translator, and translated the result back into English and hoped for the best. The result is that the poorest of Christmas cracker jokes have been funnier than the entire film.
And then you have the acting. And that's a term that is used very loosely here. Everyone involved should be highly embarrassed by their involvement in this project. None more so than Kitsch; he more than most had a point to prove after his flat performance in the recent John Carter. The only point he managed to make however, is that he really isn't very good at this acting lark.
Neeson has less to worry about. This gig was clearly a quick grab the cash and run job, which he does so with his reputation pretty much intact.
It's not a great debut for pop star Rihanna though. In fact the only thing going for it is that her role as Raikes is completely forgettable. If she really wants to give this acting thing a go, then she most definitely has to start from scratch.
And what of Peter Berg? His contribution to this film must contravene a number of offences against artistic integrity on a global stage. It looks like he's following in the footsteps of fellow actor-turned-director Jon Favreau who also threw away a promising acting career to become a below par director.
Battleship isn't just a bad film. It has to be one of the worst films in recent years. There's' no doubt that even a film version of Jenga, consisting mostly of a group of people playing the game for a couple of hours, would have been a far more entertaining watch than this.
If there's any justice in the world, this will bomb without a splash and quickly sink without a trace.