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Oliver Warren Headshot

Once More With Feeling: Re-Imagining Battleship (2012)

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Who could resist a movie based on that popular childhood game of... E11? Miss, T26? Miss. Zz? I mean the dialogue just writes itself.

Well, obviously, any right minded film executive would jettison the core of the license and replace it with aliens. Hollywood? Direct hit.

And so with the exception of a brief, but semi-smart scene, the premise of the classic Milton Bradley board game is set adrift amid a generic identikit disaster movie. On reviewing the movie, I actually found a better name for it - The Navy! In an Adventure With Aliens.

Anyway, with a run-time of more than two hours, and very little intellectual engagement in between, I had plenty of time to ask myself - could the license have been put to better use?

My answer: Hell. Yeah. (well, maybe).

Here are my three pitches for Battleship - The Movie

My Kingdom For a Battleship

We follow a drip of sweat playing on the edges of a dark hairline, it slowly moves through the furrowed brow, dipping in and out of stressed frown lines.

Down the drip glides, parting the hairs of a thick monobrow, racing down the blackhead filled ridge of the nose, pausing at it's tip, gathering weight and then in slow motion it splits, falling slowly, gracefully right down towards the oncoming ocean. As the Battleship game board comes into focus, the sweat crashes right down onto the last remaining block of a four-piece battleship.

A buzzer sounds and our hero closes his eyes, dropping his head straight into his hands. His third successive attempt at becoming the World Battleship Champion has once again finished one place shy of the top.

This is the story of Milton Bradley Jnr. (Jonas Hill). Destined to forever fall in the shadow of his legendary toy-making father (Donald Sutherland), young Milton lacks the vision and creativity to step into his father's game-making shoes.

Against the back drop of Milton's desperate bid to become world champion is a family drama where Milton's three older siblings continually fire emotional missiles in between the boy and his father, rocking the paternal love boat.

The emotional finale, taking place at a lakeside conference centre, the setting for the 1980 World Battleship Championship, seeing Milton forfeiting his winning championship game in order to rescue his father from a sinking yacht on the lake.

Think Wes Anderson meets David Fincher with a twist of Napoleon Dynamite.

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Saw VIII: Battleship

A confusing and disturbing opening sequence of grid numbers, pencil scribbles and coded notes fades into a POV shot of eyes opening dreamily.

A well dressed man (Denzel Washington) becomes aware he is strapped to a chair.

"Good morning, Mr President" comes the freakish high pitched unbalanced voice from a tinny loudspeaker. "I do hope you like playing board games."

Insert psychotic laughter.

The president has been kidnapped in a daring mid-air heist, and he finds himself strapped to a chair for the duration of the film as the Jigsaw character forces him into a game of real life Battleship as he is forced to choose grid references to fire tomahawk missiles into a sea filled with island resorts, cruise ships and the US naval fleet, where two of the boats are captained by his estranged twin sons.

Flashbacks reveal the president's relationship with his family and key friends from his past. As the climax approaches it turns out Jigsaw is actually his gay ex-lover from his college years (Stanley Tucci), determined to avenge their aborted and secret love affair.

Think Saw slammed against Air Force One with a healthy dose of Die Hard III.

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Battleship: A Facebook Revolution

Ever ready to prove the dullest concept can work as a witty, procedural drama, Aaron Sorkin pens this tale of two rival developers battling for supremacy to build the ultimate Battleship Facebook App - Hasbro versus the little guy. Based on a dull-as-dishwater novel, no doubt.

Think The Social Network II - a straight to DVD release.

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Can you do better? Comment, please!

For something a little more sensible, I've reviewed Battleship on my movie review blog: thebackseatdirector.com


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