And that may be the biggest disappointment of all.
As the great Anton Ego notes at the conclusion of Pixar's Ratatouille, the critic—in any field—thrives on, well, criticism. Negative reviews are relatively easy to write, and often great fun to read. I confess that it was with this in mind that I decided to attend a screening of Battleship.
This summer, after all, holds out the promise of astonishingly few sure-fire stinkers. The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman, Rock of Ages, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy—some will no doubt disappoint, but all share at least the possibility of being solid entertainments, if not more. Anyone looking for a film truly worthy of a critical broadside would be a fool to forsake so large a target as Battleship.
The omens could hardly have been bleaker. Start with the initial plan to turn a 45-year-old board game—which had been a pencil-and-paper game for a generation before that—into a $200 million summer tent-pole, despite its complete lack of plot or characters. (What's next? Hangman? Wait, forget I said that.) Then there was the notion to depart from the entire premise of the game—two evenly matched maritime fleets stalking one another—in order to substitute an invasion by an alien armada. (Was George Lucas employed as an uncredited creative consultant?) And finally, there was the decision to open the film abroad five weeks before it opened stateside, which is a bit like premiering a big Broadway play in rural Manitoba.