'Battleship': What the Critics Are Saying

4:25 PM PST 05/18/2012 by THR Staff
Universal Pictures

The reviews are in for Universal's sci-fi adaptation of the classic board game directed by Peter Berg.

Critics have offered lukewarm reviews of Battleship, Universal's $200 million sci-fi thriller about the U.S. Navy fighting invading aliens that opens in the U.S. this weekend.  

The cast of Peter Berg's big-screen action film includes Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights), model Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson and singer Rihanna.  

The Universal release has earned $220 million overseas since opening internationally in early April and  is projected to earn $35 million to $40 million in its U.S. debut.  

The Hollywood Reporter's Megan Lehmann likened it to a weaker water-based version of Transformers, calling it "silly and overly ponderous." She adds, "the movie is a long-winded exercise in cartoonish war games" and "in the wake of the Transformers movies’ success, the look is obviously funneled through a Michael Bay-shaped aperture."  

The movie received just a 36 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.    

PHOTOS: 'Battleship' Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals

Read below for a sampling of critics' reviews:

The Los Angeles TimesKenneth Turan said of the movie: "Two-hour infomercial that should do wonders for naval recruiting if not civilian entertainment. The invading aliens start off like gangbusters, but they end up resembling the Washington Generals of yore, fated to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters night after hopeless night."

Turan also points out, "Though they have impressive weapons and the resources to make the journey to Earth, these humanoid aliens are as ungainly as the movie itself, clunking around in awkward, protective suits. Once revealed, their prominent chin whiskers make them look like surly Amish farmers upset at a barn-raising gone wrong."

The New York Times' Neil Genzlinger also criticizes the movie, writing in his review, "Battleship has a plot as unambitious as a macaroni dinner, familiar and easy to eat and not particularly nutritious. Heck, if you’re going to build your story around that rogue cliché, your main guy needs to be pretty roguish."

The Atlantic Wire's Richard Lawson points out a scene at the beginning of the film, calling it "ridiculous": "There's a sequence of scenes at the beginning of Battleship ... that is so ridiculous, so patently absurd that it just might be the strangest thing you'll see at the movies this year — and it has nothing to do with battleships. Instead, it's Alex Hopper (Kitsch) and his brother Stone (Skarsgard) at a seedy Hawaii bar knocking back drinks in celebration of Alex's 26th birthday. "I love you," they say earnestly but casually to one another, perhaps the first indication that there's something a little off about this movie."

Lawson went on and said, "Because there is no way this movie could be an attempt at seriousness. It is just too silly, too giddily excited by the simple sight of things exploding, to be a thing earnestly made by adults. So yes, I'm choosing to believe that the movie is self-aware, that it's in on the joke. And in that spirit, it's a rollicking summertime blast."

Indiewire's Leonard Maltin compares the movie to Transformers, calling Battleship "a movie for people who found the Transformers series too intellectually challenging." He add, "even within the confines of a big, dumb summer action movie" Berg's film "strains the limits of credibility." 

Maltin also points out: "Director Berg has layered a veneer of patriotism and gung-ho Navy pride onto Erich and Jon Hoeber’s cardboard screenplay, in a cheesy attempt to bring gravitas to the project (and guilt to anyone who dares to knock it). Still, there’s no escaping the fact that the characters — though played by beautiful people — are strictly one-dimensional. Even a tough military veteran who’s lost his legs, and his will to live (played by real-life amputee Gregory D. Gadson), becomes a living cliché."

 

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