‘Battleship’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics were surprised by how much they enjoyed Peter Berg's film, giving credit to its entertainment factor.
By Fallon Prinzivalli

Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna in "Battleship"
Photo: Universal Pictures

Many movie fans have been wary as to whether director Peter Berg could successfully pull of "Battleship." Inspired by a Hasbro board game giving no hint of any type of plot, the sci-fi epic follows the adventures of an international Navy fleet when aliens begin to invade earth. As the two forces go to battle, each must rely on a crafty, cunning strategy in order to conquer their enemy. The all-star, insanely attractive cast includes Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Neeson and Rihanna, in her movie debut.

While some have written off "Battleship" as a lesser version of "Transformers," critics were surprised by how much they enjoyed the film. They praise the movie for not taking itself too seriously and give credit to its entertainment factor.

The Story
"The surprise, for this veteran of board games, is that Battleship is also the rousing, engaging, and emotionally complex action war picture the silly 2001 action war picture 'Pearl Harbor' only wished it could be. It's 'Pearl Harbor' with greater intelligence, less hokum, and more aliens. For every line of howler dialogue that should have been sunk, there's a nice little scene in which humans have to make a difficult decision. For every stretch of generic sci-fi-via-CGI moviemaking, there's a welcome bit of wit. Under the direction of Peter Berg — the talented, ever-maturing filmmaker behind 'Friday Night Lights' and 'The Kingdom' — 'Battleship' is a sound vessel floating in Hollywood's oil-slick sea of 'Transformers' sequels and vampire riffs." — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

The Cast
"The attractive cast does no more than Berg and the script require, which is very little indeed. After 'John Carter,' Kitsch is still waiting for a film vehicle to make good on the easy, authentic charm he exhibits in TV's 'Friday Night Lights,' though he's physically up to the task here. Fans of pop megastar Rihanna, making her film debut, will be disappointed to find that the role of Raikes may as well be renamed Young Female Demographic for all the pertinence it has to the narrative, but she's a sparky enough presence." — Guy Lodge, Variety

"Kitsch, coming off the super-flop 'John Carter,' soft-pedals the charm, exuding just enough charisma to get by. The striking-looking Skarsgård ('True Blood') is ramrod-straight and impossibly grave throughout, while Decker's expression toggles between blank and very blank." — Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter

The Special Effects
"Tech credits are all polished, if not as metallically sleek as they would be with a Michael Bay-style craftsman at the helm. Tobias Schliesser's lensing covers the teal-and-orange palette seemingly mandatory for such adventures these days, while Steve Jablonsky's score thumps and drones away with nary a pause, little betraying the presence of rock super-producer Rick Rubin and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello on the music team. The bulk of the attention in this evidently expensive production has been lavished on Industrial Light & Magic's typically immaculate effects, which are firmly in the "Transformers" mold stylistically, with the added challenge of water simulation. That such state-of-the-art creations have been used to realize a story whose climax hinges on a true-life WWII battleship, USS Missouri, outlasting its newer, shinier rivals is an irony probably lost on all involved." — Lodge

The Final Word
"The creative team behind this ocean-bound thriller decided to fill the narrative black hole with a few ingredients all but absent from today's summer tent poles — namely mystery, nostalgia and a healthy dose of humility. Just as blockbusters have made the hard turn towards fantasy heroes who solemnly go about their business in high-def-but-low-impact 3D cage matches, Battleship is an unapologetically goofy, surprisingly enigmatic, refreshingly self-deprecating deviation from the norm. I hesitate to confess that I had more fun here than I did at 'The Avengers,' because low expectations surely had a lot to do with it, but it's the truth. Heck, I'd pay to see the thing again." — Steven James Snyder, TIME Magazine

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Check out everything we've got on "Battleship."

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