And so it arrives, spurred on by the brain dead bombast of director Peter Berg’s Battleship: a grim vision of the future of entertainment more disturbing than Justin Bieber augmented reality sunglasses.

It’s all about brands.

Hollywood’s remake/sequel/prequel/adaptation infatuation won’t stop at video games, board games, books, comics, TV shows or figurines. When tinsel town’s well of nostalgia has dried to the point of offering virtually nothing other than remakes of remakes of remakes, and adaptations of adaptations of (remade) adaptations, studio suits will have their arms twisted by the big corporations and low and behold:

  • Remember the Dollarmites? Here they come in a big screen adventure floated by the top brass at Commonwealth Bank.
  • What about M&Ms: The Movie, starring your favourite chocolate ball-shaped snacks? Expect a matching combo at the candy bar so you can eat your favourite characters while you watch them.

Yeah, it might not happen. Scary thing is, nobody would be surprised if it did.

Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for repackaging anything with a brand name, any cultural product that carries with it a whiff of familiarity, is on gratuitous display in Berg’s knucklehead spectacle widely credited to be based — well, inspired by, given there is virtually nothing cinematic about the “source material” — on Hasbro’s popular board game. In fact, Battleship originated as a pencil and paper pastime that predated WWI.

Taylor “John Carter” Kitsch stars as Alex Hopper, who sets off on a battleship for a naval exercise between 13 nations.

A round of Battleship (the game, not the movie) needs to have two opponents. Instead of opting for the potentially controversial route and picking two countries to go head-to-head (and thus running the risk of the movie being not so marketable in at least one of them) writers Erich and Jon Hoeber decide it’s once again time for an ET invasion.

Tragedy strikes — not just by the hand of less than enthralling screenwriters — and Hopper suddenly finds himself captain of a ship, which proves a surefire way to impress his girlfriend’s surly father (played by Liam Neeson). A tale of war on the seas is intercut with the story of a solider with two artificial legs who climbs a hill. Seriously.

To be fair, Battleship is quicker to its feet than Michael Bay’s Transformers movies and it’s nowhere near as migrane inducing. Yes, that’s starting from a low base.

The special effects are suitably spectacular and there are a couple of enjoyably loony Space Cowboys-esque scenes to cushion the grinding monotony of the final act, but Berg never comes close to justifying a 130 minute running time.

It doesn’t take long for the ship to sink.

Battleship’s Australian theatrical release date: April 12, 2012. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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