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Movie Review: Battleship

A lot of good and bad things have been said about this movie. What did I think? I think it all started with a chicken burrito. *Warning: Potential Spoilers.

As a viewer: I went into this movie with very low expectations based on reviews. I wanted to see the movie because it looked like fun, not because it looked like I might learn something. I knew it was going to be a generic alien invasion story and little else. It didn’t have all the build up that the Avengers had as it was based on a board game I used to play as a kid. The only part I was disappointed in was that the tag line from the old commercials wasn’t included. You remember the line. “You sank my battleship!”

The movie starts us out with our main character getting into trouble trying to get a chicken burrito for a girl he’s trying to impress. Hijinx occurs and the bad brother is in trouble once again. His brother forces him to join the Navy or move out of the apartment they share. You can guess what happens.

We also get to see some satellite dishes pointed to the stars and sending out a “Hello” to the nearest neighbors on a habitable planet. Ok. I’m fine with that. Obviously, because of the previews, they come down to say hello. There are a lot of fun scenes where the alien fires weapons that look like the battleship pegs and the stick into the ships and then ‘push’ down and explode. I got a good laugh out of them including that. I also got a good laugh out of them using the tsunami buoys to track where the aliens were. They didn’t show up on radar so this grid of buoys allowed them to ‘see’ where they were at. So they called out letter and number coordinates to track where they would fire. I also liked this clever inclusion that tied back to the game.

No surprises in this movie. Just a fun, alien invasion movie like in the good old days. I enjoyed the nod to the retired Navy personnel as well as their being used to help fire up the old battleship and head out to fight the aliens. If you’ve never been on a battleship, they’re HUGE! Big old gun. Heavy plating. Everything is analog on those suckers. They’re fun ships.

As a writer: Let’s get this out of the way first. Bad boy turns his life around to save the world. Very tired trope. Been done a million times. I’m just glad they didn’t go on and on about his past and what he needed to do to redeem himself. It wasn’t needed, but added a little humor to the film. If it weren’t for that, none of the characters in the movie would have any dimension at all. They’re all pretty much interchangeable with any of a thousand other characters. Many are there for cannon fodder and when you’re talking about an alien invasion movie, that’s to be expected.

The plot, what there was of it, was pretty tight. No real loose ends. The character development isn’t so much that our main hero needs to change as much as he doesn’t really have a choice. He’s forced into a situation, saves the world, and is right back to being himself. At least as best as we can tell at the end of the movie.

Nothing special to see here. It’ a movie to entertain. Little else.

Recommendation: This isn’t a movie that will change your life. It’s going to give you a couple of laughs, some good eye candy with great special effects, and a half-way decent story. Unlike many movies I’ve seen that have no real plot at all, this one does a pretty good job. If’ you’ve got $10 burning a hole in your pocket and are tired of seeing the Avengers for the 37th time this week, take a break and check out Battleship. Go in with the expectation that it’s not going to blow your socks off, and you’ll enjoy it.

Movie Review: The Avengers

The Avengers


As a kid I read comic books. I preferred Marvel over DC comics mainly because the Marvel comics usually had something funny in them. It didn’t matter which title you picked up you could usually find a little joke, witty line, or funny incident. I liked that about Marvel.

Over the past week building up to the Avengers movie I re-watched all the movies building up to the Avengers movie. I love living in an age when the comics I read as a kid can come to the big screen as movies I love to see and actually get excited to go and see. Marvel Studios had done an incredible with the movies they’ve been putting out lately. Why?

If you’ve been paying attention to the movies, they’ve all been tied together with little snippets after the credits. This has normally been done to signify a sequel, or even to show bloopers. But with the Marvel movies, they’ve done this to build up to the Avengers movie. All those little snippets have given us a very small glimpse of something bigger. I’ve been paying attention and eagerly awaited this movie.

As a viewer: Having recently seen all the build up movies I was primed and ready to watch this movie. Or so I thought.

The movie started out a little slow but built quickly. We are re-introduced to each of the characters so it’s not critical that you’ve seen each of the previous movies, but it will help for full enjoyment of the film to get a lot of inside jokes, cross pollination of characters, and to realized who many of the minor characters are and how they fit into the bigger picture. Once the action gets going there is so much going on that it’s easy to see why many people are seeing this movie more than once. I know I need to see if again as I keep reading other reviews and have many “Oh yeah!” moments as I recall what that put as their favorite moments.

If you’re a fan of the comics or a fan of the movies (or like me and a fan of both) you will love this movie. This is what comic movies have been missing for years. These heroes all live in the same universe and for them not to interact has been an issue with me. Granted I don’t want to see too much going on as with what happened with the Batman franchise where they had too many characters to form a coherent storyline, but the way Marvel has given each hero their own full movie to introduce the character’s story so they can be used in a bigger picture was nothing short of brilliant.

The movie made me think, made me laugh, almost made me cry. Overall I found myself in awe with what they created over the years to build to this one(?) movie. I have the ? There because of the 1st of two after credits that reveal that we’ll likely be getting a sequel.

As a writer: This movie did so many things right. I will have a minor spoiler in here, so skip if you have not see the movie.

The movie had a wonderful blend of humor and action. Much of the humor was in the form of one-liners that if you’ve seen the previous movies were hilarious, and if you hadn’t seen the previous movies were still funny. Non of them came off as corny or forced humor and worked well with the characters that said them. The dialog, for the most port, didn’t feel forced. There was one scene, and I’ll get to that, but with a movie this long, it didn’t deter from my enjoyment.

The one scene was in the middle. The group, all big egos and a number of hot-heads all have an argument. They kept trying to excuse Bruce Banner so he didn’t turn into the Hulk. He kept saying “No, I’ve got this under control. I have a secret.” He said something to this effect a couple of times. There was even a discussion about helping him control the beast. After the argument the S.H.I.E.L.D. Ship is attacked and Bruce and Natasha (The Black Widow) are tossed into a lower deck. Bruce turns into the Hulk even though he seems to be fighting the transformation.

Later in the movie, Bruce is dropped off and told to “suit up” and they all look at him. He explains his secret and immediately transforms into the Hulk demonstrating that he has full control of his ability to change. I kept thinking back to the scene where he changed in the middle of the movie and couldn’t figure out why, if he had this level of control, it was an issue at that time. He became the unthinking, out of control beast where in the end of the movie he seemed to be mostly in control (and had the best physical comedy bit in the entire movie when he punched Thor).

Color me confused, but this was the only scene in the movie that bothered me. Perhaps when I watch the movie again (and I will watch it again) I’ll be able to figure it out.

Recommendation: Watch all the other movies that build up to this movie. I’m sure there’s a list out there of all the Marvel movies. This will help to increase your enjoyment of the movie as you see the characters that were introduced in one film show up again in the Avengers. I’m not talking about Thor, the Hulk, etc. I’m talking about a lot of the minor characters. There are also a lot of inside jokes that are made funnier. Even if you don’t see the lead up movies, do see the Avengers. It set the standard for what a comic book movie can be. It set the standard for a summer block buster. It set the standard for what a good movie with a lot of CGI can be. It’s got plot, characterization, it’s got dialog, it’s got humor. It’s just a fun movie. Do see it. You will enjoy it.

Review of two movies

Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe my tastes have changed over the years. Who knows, but I watched a couple of movies recently and both got me to thinking. One got thinking “this is the most unoriginal movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s got some good effects”. The other got me to thinking “Whoa!” I mean, just “Whoa!” I felt the best way to review these two movies is to compare and contrast them.

Let me start by saying that I love movies. I’ve seen a large number of movies over the years. I recently looked at a list of the top 100 Sci Fi movies to see before you die. I’d seen over 90 of the movies on that list. I feel I’m a pretty good judge of what’s good, what’s bad, and what just plain sucks.

The first movie I watched was I Am Number Four. This movie is based on a novel from the James Frye book mill. I expected it to be somewhat predictable and follow along with some of the common tropes of a Sci Fi/Fantasy movie. I didn’t expect it to follow all the common tropes of a Sci Fi/Fantasy movie.

Like your normal Sci Fi/Fantasy, it had three acts. Act 1: Introduce the orphan farm boy (he doesn’t start as a farm boy, but becomes one soon enough) and his guardian and watch him get into trouble and also introduce the bad guy and a ‘secret weapon’. Act 2: Farm boy can’t stay out of trouble and falls in love with a local girl despite his guardian’s insistence and there is a run in with the locals and the bad guys. Act 3: Kill the guardian, reveal the secret weapon, orphan boy comes into his own and defeats the bad guy and wins the girl.

There’s only slight variation, but it hit every note on queue and left very little to the imagination and was filled with lots of special effects. It started out interesting for me, but I quickly lost interest about half way through as I mentally checked off all the key points as they were hit right on queue. In the end I was disappointed.

The second movie I saw I had heard nothing about. I had no idea what to expect and when you watch the movie it’s easy to overlook the fact that it truly is a Sci Fi movie. Never Let Me Go grabbed me with the opening scene where we get just a little bit of back story from Kathy H. in her adult life. From there we’re taken back to the beginning of her story and begin to realize what she’s had to go through to get to where she is now and why she must be there. It’s not a hopeless movie, but the powerlessness of the characters makes you empathize with their situation.

The characters are essentially copies of other people (this is similar to The Island which is another disappointing movie, but for different reasons). They live out their lives to become donors for ‘real’ people. They donate until they ‘complete’. It’s a truly hopeless existence as you or I might see it, but when that’s all you know, you must wonder how do they deal with their situation?

As I said, this movie really made me think and it’s not often a movie will do that to me. I think that’s why I appreciated it so much and even though there was no action in the movie whatsoever, it still kept me intently watching. I still think not only about the situation of the characters, but the callousness of their handlers who treat them as nothing more than pieces of meat needing to mature.

These two movies couldn’t possible be more different. I’ve always been one to enjoy a movie with a plot, with characters I can care about, and that will have me guessing. I’ve grown tired of movies that follow the formula. You can predict nearly every move, every joke, and every character flaw. When the only thing a movie has to offer is fancy special effects and shallow characters, I’ll pass. I don’t need to see them solving the puzzle in the nick of time every time.

What movies have you see recently that really made you think? Twisted your perspective of movie watching or just made you open your eyes and realize there’s more than just flash bang movies out there?

Note: I also just discovered Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Another good thinker of a movie.