Showing posts with label Taylor Kitsch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taylor Kitsch. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Battleship is loosely based on the board game Battlships and stars Taylor Kitsch as an unlikely hero in a battle between the US Navy and alien invaders. We see Kitsch at the beginning of the film in a bar being told he has to think about his future. He is 26 and without a job, living on the sofa of his Naval Officer brother’s house. He is reckless and seemingly lacks direction. Then suddenly he is a Lieutenant in the US Navy and in charge of the weapons or something on the USS John Paul Jones (which isn’t named after the Led Zeppelin bassist unfortunately). While out on manoeuvres with an international fleet off the coast of Hawaii, Kitsch (and Rihanna…sigh…) are sent to investigate a crashed UFO somewhere in the Ocean. It transpires that five alien ships have been dispatched to Earth after a transmission to their home planet. After travelling though millions of miles of space, one ship inexplicably hits a satellite in Earth’s orbit, while the other four plunge into the Pacific Ocean. Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) orders a warning shot which starts a battle. A battle with ships.

I was sceptical going in about how a film could be made based on a game I used to play with my dad using two pens and a maths exercise book. For about five minutes, two thirds in, the film succeeds in making a film like the game. This sequence is also exciting and interesting. For the rest of the film, bar the odd overhead shot of ships in formation, it might as well have been any old Naval action movie.

There is so much wrong with this movie that I could go on for pages but I’ll try and keep it brief. Firstly, the dialogue is atrocious. It’s like it was written by a teenager who has seen two action movies. It is so cheesy that it is actually funny. Secondly, the acting is really bad. Good actors such as Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard have no more than fifteen minutes of screen time between them and instead we are left with Rihanna who mainly sits by a computer and says “Yes Sir!” I’m pleased that she didn’t take the Britney Spears Crossroads route into acting but she hardly sets the world alight and her casting is an obvious attempt to draw in people who wouldn’t see the movie without her in it. Brooklyn Decker spends most of the film standing on a mountain with a legless man, looking confused but pretty. This is apart from one scene in which she is somehow channels Colin McRae and becomes a rally driver. She is nothing more than eye candy here. After the critical and commercial failure of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch again fails to impress and lacks the charisma to carry the film. I personally think that Skarsgard would have been a better choice for the role. He completely outclasses Kitsch in their scenes together and has bags of charisma.  The whole film is played far too straight. It is always so serious. Blockbusters used to be fun and this definitely isn’t.

Much of the film is stupid and makes no sense. After an alien craft destroys a 7,000 tonne Cruiser, a mile away, it then fails to blow up a rubber dinghy carrying Kitsch and Rihanna which is ten feet from its hull. Also, after a ship has been destroyed with tremendous loss of life, someone asks Kitsch if everyone is ok to which he replies “Yes!” What he meant to say is “Well I’m fine, Rihanna’s fine and the Japanese guys alright too”. The entire plot is as full of holes as the destroyed Cruiser while the obvious product placement will have you stopping by Subway on your way home to pick up a Coke Zero. One thing that really annoyed me was the constant robotic/electronic noises which permeate the whole film. They are present in most sci-fi action films but just sound ridiculous. The film’s ending is ridiculous too.

The next paragraph contains spoilers.

After aliens have destroyed all of the modern ships, Kitsch et al find the 70 year old museum ship the USS Missouri and along with about five shells and a crew of pensioners manage to defeat the aliens when 21st Century technology has failed! Its admirable that the film makers used real WWII Veterans but their inclusion helps to pile on the cheesiness.  

Spoilers over. 

On the plus side, some of the GCI is good. The design of the alien ships and particularly the aliens themselves were excellent. A lot of though had gone into what they looked like and why and they were very believable. Another aspect I liked was that the aliens are never the aggressors. This also felt realistic and believable. If we went to a new world, we wouldn’t go in all guns blazing Independence Day style but would identify targets and differentiate between friend and foe. At the beginning of the film I thought that maybe this would be a rare Blockbuster in which the USA doesn’t go it alone but apart from a token Japanese guy, the excellent Tadanobu Asano (Zatoichi) this turned out to be the case.

The message the film delivers is commendable but is unfortunately lost in the explosions. The film is trying to tell us that sometimes the old ways are better and that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on technology but the way it tells you is ridiculous and laughable. On the whole the film is a massive disappointment. It is too long, it takes itself far too seriously, is no fun and features terrible acting and dialogue. The relationships feel false and while you’d expect a side of cheese, here it is served as the main course. If you want to watch Transformers on water then this is for you but if you want something more you need look elsewhere.


Monday, 12 March 2012

John Carter

"Good God... I'm on Mars!"

Civil War veteran John Carter (Taylor Kitch) is on the run from the law and takes shelter inside a cave in which he discovers gold. Before he can mine it however a man appears as if from nowhere and attacks him. Carter kills the man and repeats his dying words. Suddenly he is transported to a strange world where he has the ability to jump great distances. He is met by a four armed green man and taken back to his city. To cut a very, very long story short, John Carter has been transported to Mars and gets embroiled in another civil war.

The first thing I have to say about the film is that Disney should never have changed the title to John Carter from John Carter of Mars. This was done for the ridiculous reason that Disney executives believed that the Mars part of the title would put people off as not everyone wants to watch Science Fiction. They were obviously unaware that Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time and that 16 of the top 20 top grossing films of all time contain at least some science fiction or fantasy elements, whether it be Orcs, Wizards or Robots beating each other. The decision makes no sense. All one has to do is see the poster or trailer and it is pretty obvious that it is a sci-fi film. The first word spoken is ‘Mars’ for heavens sake!

As for the film itself, it starts with a funny and exciting chase across the Arizona desert when the action is suddenly transported to Mars which looks realistic (although I’ve never been). Carter meets a Thark which are well designed creatures with a well thought out an interesting culture and story. From then on, I kind of lost interest in the story. Carter meets a beautiful princess (Lynn Collins) who is on one side of the war and he decides to help her. The problem is that you learn very little about the two cultures involved in the Civil War. You have no real reason for backing one over the other except one has a beautiful princess while the other has Dominic West in Xena the Warrior Princess’ hand me downs and a blue laser weapon.

The large battle scenes lack the heat, intensity and passion of say Helms Deep in The Lord of the Rings and are over in a matter of seconds. And because you know so little about the protagonists, they just feel like faceless pixels. The entire quest theme of the film is flat and dull. Carter spends much of the film trying to get back to Earth but the character isn’t interesting enough for you to care if he does or not. The costumes the human like character wear feel very Conan the Barbarian and as a result feel a bit dated and cheap. The film isn’t camp enough to pull the look of the costume off. On the plus side, the design of the film as a whole is excellent. The CGI is also excellent. As I mentioned, the non humanoid aliens look terrific, as does their pet, a dog like creature that happens to be the highlight of the film. The cities look detailed and sumptuous and the ships feel mechanical and real. Unfortunately the film reminded me too much of other, better films such as Star Wars and Gladiator and that just made me think “why am I not watching those instead?”

While the film is really just a simple love story intertwined with the search for ones identity, it is complicated quite a bit by the number of names, species and words which the script creates. Some people have complained about this and while it is a bit confusing and off-putting at times people forgave Star Wars its Jedi, Sith and Midiclorians and Harry Potter’s Dementors, Muggles and Horcruxes so perhaps John Carter deserves a break in this respect. Perhaps the reason it has got so much flack for its Tharks, Xavarians and Sab Thans is because the story isn’t compelling enough for the audience to want to take notice of what all of those things are and understand what they mean. The script itself is ok but hardly in Sorkin territory. There is quite a bit of cheesy dialogue. Usually I’d overlook that in an action sci-fi film but when the writer has also been responsible for penning Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall:E its inexcusable. Andrew Stanton is better than that. His scripts are usually funny, flowing and flawless but that is not the case here.

Taylor Kitch is well cast as John Carter. He pulls of the Civil War veteran part of the role well and his confusion on Mars is funny while he is great in the action sequences. Lynn Collins, although beautiful is wooden as Princess Dejah and Dominic West seems to be playing the bad guy with Flash Gordon levels of camp which unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t have. Perhaps it would have benefited from not taking itself so seriously. Willem Defoe is great as Tars the Thark and Samantha Morton equally excels as his daughter Sola. Mark Strong is scary and intimidating as bad guy Matai Shang. Andrew Stanton’s direction is better than his writing. He makes the leap from animation to live action well and has created a believable world populated at least in part with interesting creatures and characters.

In the end, the film didn’t keep my attention for long enough and the characters lacked the depth to make me worry about their fate. It ends very strongly though and I would go back to the world for a sequel.    

  •  Additional - I have no opinion about the 3D in the film as I've given up with 3D on the whole and saw it in 2D. I'm fed up of paying more for an inferior product.