You may be wondering why we're rounding up reviews for Battleship when the game-inspired blockbuster doesn't open until mid May. Well, that's in the U.S.A., whereas many international markets are getting to see the movie a month earlier, starting today. I know, it's ironic considering the thing is supposedly little more than American naval propaganda, but I guess Universal is aware it will make a ton of money overseas, with which it can show off in marketing materials over here.
Anyway, so what are people saying about the adaptation? A lot of negative stuff, but really nothing that you aren't expecting from an action movie product based on a game product starring a bunch of actor products. Basically the consensus is that it's no better than we should be anticipating, there's a lot of military fetishism and we'll apparently be thinking of Michael Bay and the Transformers movies the whole time. However, some critics are pro-Peter Berg and some are pro-Bay in their exercises of compare and contrast.
I'd be surprised if the movie wasn't thin in plot, weak in dialogue and obviously a cash-grab piece of spectacle-heavy product placement. Both positive and negative marks are just keeping my interest for some mindless explosions. Oh, and I hear from Twitter that it's worth it for Rihanna. I mean @rihanna, because the praise seems directly aimed at getting her attention.
What are people saying about Battleship? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:
Urgh. What an abhorrent piece of sh*t. A total abortion of a movie. And that’s coming from someone who loves giant robots. - Adam Truscott, Live for Films
The film appropriates real-life heroism and tragedy for the sake of lending weight to a $200 million explosion-fest based on a board game. Much of this was to be expected. But we think that even the brains-off crowd will struggle to find anything to enjoy here. The film is so overlong (130 minutes) and sluggishly paced that the heartbeat never gets raised, and the effects never look anything other than plasticky [...] it turns out that the jokes about the blockbuster movie based on a board game over the last two or three years were entirely justified. - Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist
Along the way the film takes time out of its busy schedule to insult the life experiences of World War II and Afghanistan veterans and, via a spectacularly tasteless bit of news footage, the victims of the London riots. - Andrew Harrison, Q
Hollywood offers up plenty of easy-to-swallow confectionery, which is absolutely appreciated, provided it’s also entertaining. Berg’s latest doesn’t have much of a sense of discovery when it comes to its alien visitors, and the supposedly high-adrenaline battle sequences feel perfunctory rather than exhilarating. - Simon Miraudo, Quickflix
By the end of it (I think it ended, I think), you can’t help but feel like everything in your life that so far hasn’t blown up has somehow let you down. Battleship isn’t a film, is what I’m saying, it’s a weapon, and the only respite you get from the pure, unadulterated noise onslaught is in the re-loading between rounds. [...] there isn’t so much a script as there are two word vats, one labelled “exposition” and one labelled “one-liners” [...] almost saved by its own willingness to mock itself, its origins and the fact that everything we’re watching is supremely ridiculous. - Natasha Hodgson, Best for Film
Battleship virtually begs you despise it, every frame haplessly offering more grist for your critical mill. But maybe there is a satirical undertow to it all, a self-awareness of its own world-beating stupidity. In fact, there has to be. There’s no way this film was intended to be taken at face value. Surely? - David Jenkins, Little White Lies
Battleship is an event movie so lunkheaded - both in concept and execution - that it’s hard not to suspect director Peter Berg of playing a prank. [...] Evidence, sadly, indicates that both he and his film are in earnest. - Nick de Semlyen, Empire
At times it feels like director Peter Berg is out to satirise the genre, sending up the work of Michael Bay rather than aping it, but the film is played with such po-faced stoicism and flag-waving jingoism that one soon rejects this theory. - Chris Tilly, IGN
The film feels like the naval version of Top Gun. Then it goes all Independence Day, bringing out the hero in everyone – not just wayward naval officer Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) but war-injured amputees and military old-timers as well. It’s like a US Navy recruitment ad. - Dave Golder, SFX
Two hours of gale-force military fetishism, a script set to soundbite (“Boom!” says the underused, but surprisingly un-terrible, Rihanna, firing a cannon), and stratospheric levels of product placement. - Matt Glasby, Total Film
This is Berg doing his best Michael Bay impression - all sun-soaked money shots, blaring Steve Jablonsky score, flag-waving jingoism and cutaways to the Pentagon as government officials ponder armageddon. Thankfully, though, Battleship is free of the kind of excruciating comedy sidekicks and unappealing characters that have become Bayhem staples. - Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy
While he does share some annoying filmmaking traits featured in that other HASBRO blockbuster series Transformers (is it standard procedure that sweeping camera shots and lavish attention on supermodels/actresses be used in all of these films?), Berg doesn’t suffer from the ADD styling’s of a Michael Bay and utilises some control over his action scenes. - Matthew Pejkovic, Matt's Movie Reviews
One would be mad to expect anything but a tyrant of flashing images, high-octane battles and endless shouting, but that is not an excuse for the film to forget about cinematic formatting and structuring. At least Bay forms and produces his films on the idea that his insane scale and scope makes for giddy and brain-dead popcorn fun. Berg obviously missed his step when trying to find the line between trashy and entertaining. - Chris Haydon, Filmoria
Tech credits are all polished, if not as metallically sleek as they would be with a Michael Bay-style craftsman at the helm. - Guy Lodge, Variety
There’s much to admire in the enthusiasm and craft Berg brings to the action, but in the wake of the Transformers movies’ success, the look is obviously funneled through a Michael Bay-shaped aperture. - Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter
Battleship is a big, dumb popcorn movie, pure and simple. As such, it's a lot more fun than, say, the Transformers. Worth seeing. - Matthew Turner, View London
Ultimately, Battleship is a surprising, entertaining and smart piece of cinema that convinces not least with its style and claptrap-free special effects. After seeing too many alien-battle-invasion movies with two-dimensional characters and crackbrained stories, this one might take some getting rid of prejudice. - Jonahh Oestreich, Static Mass Emporium
Battleship was so good, @rihanna is a quality actor - Danny Ashby, @dannya449
@rihanna was great in Battleship. - Shane Black Dickson, @googleeyes1
Thought @rihanna was a really good actor in battleship + looked good with a gun - Alberto Di Dio, @AlbertoDiDio94
Battleship was mint. Loved @rihanna role, she made a sexy badass. - Kimberly Sison, @duhsison
Just watched Battleship, @rihanna is not only sexy and amazing at singing she's now an actress, woah - emmadaisy, @emmaharsant
So disappointed with Battleship, could have been so much better. @rihanna was a beaut though! - Pierce, @Pierceptc13
Well, Battleship was better than expected. @rihanna looks horrendous in it but the blonde girl is top notch. - Andrew Squire, @Andrew_Squire
The one and only surprising thing about Battleship was how un-terrible Rihanna was. She's no Meryl Streep, but she's also no Madonna. - Rory Cashin, @charismagic
I had fun with it for sure, not going to deny it. It definitely has problems but as blockbusters go you could do far worse. - Ross Miller, @rosstmiller
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.