I honestly sniggered. When I heard the news a couple of years ago that they were going to make a movie based on a Hasbro board game, I couldn't help but let out a wry chuckle. Really? It wasn't April 1st, was it?
Well, it may have been, but nonetheless, this was no joke. Nor was it very funny.
Directed by Peter Berg (he of Hancock, the upcoming Hancock 2 and Very Bad Things, amongst a host of acting credits) takes the helm of this hugely (and I use the word literally) anticipated blockbuster in the making, no doubt with his fingers crossed behind his back. "The Movie Most Likely To Fall From Grace' could easily have been the tagline, such was the critical frenzy to pummel this idea into the tarmac of the nearest aircraft carrier's runway before so much as a shot had been cast to storyboard.
Every memorable blockbuster needs a ringing bell, a stamp by which it is recognised. Spiderman had the great responsibility that came with great power and here; Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself. Doesn't quite have the same ring, now does it. This attempt to set a high bar goes to show where Berg is coming from early on, and more obviously, just how far he still has to stretch, even on his tippy-toes, to get where he wants to be. Really, who highlights the fact that their country of origin named an actual battleship after Ronald Reagan? Who really thought a fly-by of same battleship would benefit from an accompanying soundtrack from AC/DC? By the time you're twenty minutes in, you have already picked all of the holes in the imaginary chain of command of the US Navy and then shortly after, you should be asking that, even at the speed light, just how the message got to its target so quickly and just how they got to earth so fast, to let us know they'd heard it.
We've already seen Armageddon and Independence Day. Shit, some of us even bothered to watch Act Of Valour recently. Do we really need another chest-beating group of Americans (and faux Americans) to save the world, despite lacking a socially acceptable level of articulation? Early on, Berg can't decide whether to be funny or not. He tries, but it doesn't fit the tone of what is coming. Taylor Kitsch is Ben Affleck, but he's missing a Bruce Willis here. Additionally, he's just not as good an actor. Brooklyn Decker takes the Liv Tyler role, again missing a Bruce Willis, but at least gaining a Liam Neeson into the bargain. She is beautiful, to be sure, but that doesn't mean that is all she is, which is a shame because that is all Berg can see.
So, military authenticity and scientific believability thrust expensively to one side, what then do we assume Berg is trying to achieve? Well, does it really matter? It looks great, there are shiny things and you even get the occasional laugh. That must be worth the price of admission alone, right?
And this is the point. Berg has made another fantastical film for those people that don't frankly care whether the science works or whether Decker gets to flesh out her role into one more taxing than bikini filling. They don't care that it doesn't make any sense. They care that Kitcsh is handsome and looks 'buff' in a uniform. They would rather Decker said as little as possible and just looked impossibly gorgeous, just like the special effects. This is a blockbuster, after all. This is big budget for big box-office takings. Everything else is secondary. When you appreciate this, the film becomes a good deal more enjoyable. Even the performance from Rhianna no longer matters. Never mind the message, just look at stars!
Not one for the purist really and a movie that will completely divide audiences. Either you will go and see this because of what it is and immensley enjoy yourself or you will avoid it like the plague for exactly the same reasons. You choose, I'm past caring....