It seems like we always start the summer with one movie that makes me shrug my shoulders and advise everyone (including myself) to shut up and eat your popcorn. Battleship is that movie. Had we been fortunate enough to see this back in April like the rest of the world, it might have been slightly more fun, but playing Coulda Woulda Shoulda is pointless and takes away from time I spend online shopping for a new bikini. As it is, we live in a post-Avengers world so this film is just okay--there's no inspiring dialogue or wildly unique effects, but it gets the job done.
The oppressive length of the film (2 hours and 10 minutes) makes it feel like an endurance test akin to…uh, Navy soldiers fighting relentless aliens, actually. It doesn't help that in order to even get to the good stuff, you must first be subjected to a series of emotionally manipulative exposition scenes. In order for you to know how much of a reckless rebel Alex (Taylor Kitsch) is, you have to watch him breaking and entering, getting tasered by the cops, taking a penalty shot in a soccer game with a head injury, and punching out a Japanese soldier. This is all while his older brother (Alexander Skarsgard) looks on disapprovingly. It's obvious what they're setting up, but can we get to it, filmmakers? I have bikinis to buy.
The only reason people are going to go see this movie is to figure out how Transformer-like baddies operate on water. And that shot where glass explodes in slow motion right into Skarsgard's face where his lips go all wonky is helpful, too. So when all that nonsense starts up, the movie gets way better. There's lots of shooting and explosions and Liam Neeson looking perplexed. We have to put up with some meandering subplot about Brooklyn Decker hiking with an injured Army veteran, but other than that, the movie stays tightly focused on people yelling and sinking ships. Rihanna has big guns and Taylor Kitsch is really sweaty. All of these things are perfect.
Aside from cool effects that I was already expecting, Battleship never made me yelp loud enough with awe to be heard over the intense music and sound design. It seemed to have trouble gelling. Until, out of nowhere, when I had just given up hope of this movie being tons of summer fun, it got completely awesome. In the final 20 minutes, when the put-upon heroes have hit rock bottom and throw a huge Hail Mary, AC/DC comes in and does exactly what it did for Iron Man. I even felt a twang of patriotism. Since it ended on such a high note, it made me feel less exasperated with the rest of it. So if you have endless patience, this film will deliver. In fact, everyone who sat through it deserves a silver star.