Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Peter Berg: Battleship

Battleship, Universal Pictures, 2012.

In adapting the retro board game into a loud, mind-numbing Summer popcorn shitstorm, director Peter Berg betrays the very intentions of studio heads with dollar signs in their eyes. The actor turned under appreciated director has a heart and an eye; a mordant wit to boot. His previous excursions behind the camera displayed a talented director who knows how to handle popular entertainment. His past pictures, Very Bad Things, Friday Night Lights, and The Rundown, all had the touch of a burgeoning auteur, buried in the recesses of second banana roles in mediocre genre films; as a blockbuster director, he blows anyone else in the middle out of the water; Michael Bay has visual wizardry, but wishes he had Berg's savvy.

As for his newest picture, its easily his most flawed - a lot of it is even crappy. The script, by Erich and Jon Hoeber, is utter garbage, riddled with plot holes and guffaw-inducing dialogue. Once we accept that fact (if we do) than we are free to dissolve in the wonder of Hollywood action-sci fi at its basest level; a cineplex orgy of chaos and destruction. Berg knows how to connect spacial dissonance and his mise en scene is rigorously artful. Dp Tobias Schliessler captures the gruff surfaces of water and gleaming steel and metal with a cautious eye bordering on beauty. Steve Jablonsky's score is epically riveting, recalling his work with Bay, which only magnifies how talented Berg truly is.

The cast is besides the point; Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Sarsgard bro out as the testy Naval protags, Rihanna is thrown in for good measure as their cronie, sporting an assault rifle. My camp senors on high, I reveled in the gut-wrenching glory of Berg's greatest tour-de-force sequence in the film; the fleet confronts the alien ship which has landed on our coast. The visual effects are dazzling, even mind-boggling, and look far better than those in The Avengers.

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