Battleship

Space Invaders Gameplay

Cross another item off the list of “things I am marginally aware of that have yet to be made into a movie.” Space Invaders, the classic arcade game you’ve probably picked up at some point in your life, is getting the filmic treatment from Warner Bros. The Wrap reports Akiva Goldsman, of Fringe, I Am Legend and, most recently, A Winter’s Tale, is producing the great pixelated epic, along with Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell. This isn’t the first time Warners has tried to get a Space Invaders movie off the ground. In 2010, the studio sent another band of producers to Taito, the Japanese company behind the game, to bend a knee and beg for the rights. It didn’t work out. This time, though, all the parties are aligned. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “What? No. Space Invaders has almost nothing of substance that could translate into a movie. It’s just a basic game layout with a mildly iconic ship design. There isn’t a movie here.” And you’d be right. But you’d also be forgetting Battleship, which took a few similar-sized scraps of source material and managed to glue them together in a way that resembled a feature film. But Battleship was a Michael Bay-inspired mess of moving parts and incoherency, which begs the question: can Space Invaders do any better?

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Burrito Scene in Battleship

Pushing back against “Save the Cat,” The Bitter Script Reader recently looked to the burrito theft scene in Peter Berg’s Battleship as the inverse proposition. A story scenario that, instead of endearing the audience to the hero, leaves them uninspired by him. The quick and dirty version is this: Taylor Kitsch breaks into a convenience store, unprompted, in order to steal a burrito for Brooklyn Decker and win her heart with cold-in-the-middle fast food. It all goes very un-James Bond, the police are called, and he gets hilariously tased. Bitter sees it as a misfire. His money quote: Also – just because I accept a guy’s libido would make him stupid enough to do this, it doesn’t mean I’d respect any woman who was actually wooed by this behavior.  By extension, I question any audience member who looks at this and says, “I’m SO pulling for this guy.” No, this is a scene that makes me shake my head and say, “No, I REFUSE to accept this as our hero.” I can see the argument that starting this low gives the hero an opportunity for a redemptive moment later on. It would be more persuasive if the action didn’t require him to be so unbalanced in the first place. This is also what undercuts the “selfless” act of him offering the burrito to Brooklyn. Stealing food for a starving kid is one thing.  Stealing food as a down payment on some possible groping and sweaty action? That’s less laudible. So the […]

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LEGO

Something I always try to remember when annoyed with product placement is that our whole, real world is itself filled with product placement. It’s just that there’s a level to its presence that we tolerate, and anything beyond that level in a movie is where we get uncomfortable. We don’t talk to each other in sales pitches, for instance, the way Laura Linney does to Jim Carrey, satirically, in The Truman Show. But we see products and are conscious of them as such every single day. We see LEGOs in any child’s playroom or pediatrician’s waiting area or Star Wars fanboy movie critic’s office. They’re as much a staple of life as the Mac computer I’m typing on or the can of Coke Zero I’m drinking or the nameless but recognizable trademark of Polo Ralph Lauren on the sweatshirt I’m wearing. The LEGO Movie is more than mere product placement, though. The whole thing involves a world made out of the product. It’s like that classic Tootsie Roll commercial where everything is made out of Tootsie Rolls. Hershey has done a number over the years featuring worlds of chocolate, too. But those are commercials, and The LEGO Movie is not. It’s something we pay to see rather than something paid for in order for us to see it. Still, the world of the product idea makes it kind of okay. We’re not seeing our world invaded by life-size versions of the product, a la Transformers. We’re seeing a different universe, […]

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

While many would like to think that snark was something born of the Internet age, the fact that the Razzie Awards for Worst Achievements in Film are now in their thirty-third year pretty demonstrably proves that to be untrue.  There’s an uncomfortable truth at the center of all this, which is, to snark, to pass judgment, to make fun of things that fail publicly and spectacularly—it’s all kind of fun, at least in a sick way. If it wasn’t, something like The Razzies wouldn’t be able to stick around this long. In recent years, however, the film industry’s laser focus on building franchises and sticking to the same formulas has taken a little bit of the fun out of seeing who gets picked on for being the worst of the year. A crop of usual suspects has developed, making the announcement that the latest Twilight movie and the latest Adam Sandler comedy have earned the lion’s share of the nominations something of a tedious formality. So, here we are, having yet again sat through another Twilight movie and another Adam Sandler comedy, and, sure enough, it seems that they’ve once again gotten the bulk of the nominations. If there’s any new narrative going on, it’s that Madea’s Witness Protection seems to have annoyed the people who vote for the Golden Raspberries more than usual. Perhaps that’s due to Jack & Jill making men in drag a more contemptible offense after last year, or perhaps it’s because they’re trying to set […]

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Visiting ILM

“Is it okay if I take a picture of that?” Visiting Industrial Light & Magic isn’t just another assignment. Even a seasoned movie blogger knows that much. This job takes you all kinds of interesting places — sets in the middle of the Bayou, the snow covered mountains of Utah, even the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. But a trip to San Francisco, home of LucasFilm and ILM, that’s something special. It doesn’t matter so much that my first trip to the house that George built (before he went crazy) was in honor of Battleship, a movie-sized adaptation of a classic board game. What matter is that I got to stand next to the original Vigo the Carpathian painting from Ghostbusters 2. Of course, there was also a bit of learning about visual effects from some of the brightest minds in the business, all in celebration of Universal’s big watery explosion known as Battleship.

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Drinking Games

By now, you’ve come to realize that 2012 was the year of Taylor Kitsch. It hasn’t necessarily been a good year for him, but it has indeed been his year in movies. Between a disappointing turn in John Carter and a underwhelming Savages, he ran off to join the Navy and fight aliens in Battleship. This is quite possibly his best performance yet, considering his acting in this flick is Oscar-worthy compared to co-star Rihanna. You can check it out for yourself because Battleship hits DVD and Blu-ray this week. Based on the popular Hasbro board game, Battleship chronicles the story of an alien invasion attacking Naval warships near Pearl Harbor. You remember the aliens from the board game, don’t you? If not, have a few drinks while you watch the film, and it will soon all be clear. (Hint: It won’t be clear at all.)

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Searching for Sonny Elliot reluctantly heads home for his ten-year high school reunion, but instead of the expected disappointments he discovers a missing friend, a murder and a mystery. Writer/director Andrew Disney’s feature debut is an indie rarity in that it’s as funny as any big screen comedy. The laughs come in part due to Disney’s sharp and witty script, but credit should also go to the main cast of Jason Dohring, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney. The trio has a smooth and perfectly timed chemistry together, and they help make the film a joy to watch. The lovely Minka Kelly helps in that department as well. [Extras: Commentary, additional scenes, bloopers, featurettes] Also available on Blu-ray.

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The Do-Deca-Pentathalon

The Duplass Brothers got into making movies by making movies. Some called it Mumblecore, but it should really be called The Nike Method. Their latest, The Do-Deca-Pentathalon features two brothers locked in an epic (yet secretive) sporting event that they take exactly as seriously as it needs to be taken. But as Mark and Jay Duplass explain in this interview, no matter the type of movie they make, they’ll always focus on the small moments and emotions that arise from them. One example? Battleship. If given the blockbuster, here’s how the pair would have delivered the littoral explosion-fest

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Culture Warrior

“If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.” I don’t typically seek out wisdom from Twitter, but this below-140-character observation (made by @krishnasjenoi and retweeted by @ebertchicago) struck very close to something that’s been occupying my mind as we enter the fifth week of the summer movie season. Though the statement works better as a fun hypothetical critique than a contestable thesis (in other words, there’s no way we’ll ever really know, thank goodness), the sentiment feels relevant. Though the modern Hollywood blockbuster has been a staple of studios’ summer scheduling for almost forty years, the films that become blockbusters don’t look or feel very similar to the films of the 70s and 80s that somehow paradoxically led to today’s cavalcade of sequels, franchises, adaptations and remakes. Criticizing Hollywood’s creative crisis is nothing new. But with the mega-success of The Avengers and the continuing narrative of failure and disappointment that has thus far characterizes every major release since, it seems that this crisis has been put under a microscope. The moment where unprecedented success is the only kind of achievement Hollywood can afford and the well of decade-old franchises and toy companies become desperately mined for material is something we were warned about. But Hollywood’s creativity-crippling reliance on existing properties is not the only, or even the primary, problem faced by mass market filmmaking’s present moment. The bloated numbers sought after each and […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It doesn’t have time to explain it to you, yo. We just gotta get out of here, Mr. White! We begin this evening with the first image from the upcoming fifth and final season of Breaking Bad, courtesy of AMC. And guess what? It’s a shot of Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) standing in a field looking less than pleased with their surroundings. Even though it’s a shot we’ve seen a million times in four seasons, it never ceases to be interesting. 

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a thing that happens nightly, bringing you news from the world of film, television and pop culture. Mostly film. Thus, the name. We begin tonight with a shot of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad? Quick show of hands: who among you is not excited about this movie? Those with their hands in the air can kindly leave the room, while the rest of us do more news.

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Boiling Point

With what is being called a massive failure at the box office, pulling in just $25 million domestic dollars (or 12% of its budget), Peter Berg‘s Battleship is sinking, but not before firing a warning shot across the bow of stupid ideas. And by a “warning shot across the bow” I mean a giant, moronic cruise missile. Battleship wasn’t destined for failure – after all, almost any idea can be made good. If you ignored the title, the idea of a few naval vessels fighting off aliens sounds pretty cool and not altogether stupid. However, you slap the Hasbro logo in-front of the credits and include a sequence where a missile destroyer blindly fires into the ocean while a captain shouts out “J-11″ and the stupidity quotient rises exponentially.

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Can you hear it? Out there in the distance, on a cold crag of rock with the wind whipping at its monstrous back is a marketing department VP howling at the empty night. Battleship – in all of its $209m budget plus probably $200m more in marketing – was hoping for the kind of win at the box office that would signal the go-ahead for two more movies and the trappings that come with franchises. It did not succeed. As proof that sticking feathers up your butt and calling yourself a chicken doesn’t work, the Peter Berg-directed pile of messy noises made a paltry $25m this weekend, coming in at #2. A fitting, metaphorical place. It’s not surprising that The Avengers ended up back in the top spot, this time earning another $55m – bringing its domestic take closer to the half-billion mark and making its grand total right at $1.8b (with a b).

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we’re always a hit…with elderly mimes and people whose favorite band is The Jerky Boys. This is the Internet’s best place to wait around for articles on the sites you like to load – sort of a cyberspace truckstop. And like a truckstop, we celebrate things that most people cast off as “trivial” or “base” or “seriously detrimental to one’s memory and critical thinking skills.” We are too! Wait, what was I saying? Anyway, this week we’ve had the very rare privilege of stumbling across a little gem of a rotten turd that will be playing a limited engagement of roughly ten shows a day in every single theater across the country. The arthouse maestro Peter Berg has taken the board game Battleship, that wonderful tool for teaching children all the necessary tenets of blind, desperate warfare, and extrapolated its meager mechanics into a two-hour cinematic testament to the struggle between Hollywood and your brain. Incomprehensibly bad as Battleship may be (read: totally is), I couldn’t help but wonder if the “plot” on the screen wasn’t merely a smoke screen for something that, like the invading alien ships, lurked just below the surface. So I gathered all the best minds in the Junkfood Cinema war room, which may or may not be my pet name for the corner booth at my local TGI Friday’s, and formulated some theories on just what the hell was going on here. My hope was to come up with a […]

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When a “loose” adaptation of Hasbro’s iconic board game Battleship was announced, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what type of film was in the making: big, loud, manic summer fun. The man to deliver on that promise was none other than Peter Berg, a director whose filmography ranges from Friday Night Lights to Hancock. After over three years of working on the film, Berg didn’t make a film that passes itself off as anything it’s not; he’s made Battleship. Battleship features the expected markings of all commercial tentpole films, something Berg did not want to shy away from. As the anti-film school director put it, he wanted to make a global event film, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When your film’s based on a popular board game, how could you? Berg, along with his potential blockbuster, could not be more self-aware. Here is what Battleship director Peter Berg had to say about letting life inform storytelling, his organic and actor-friendly approach to filmmaking, and how to keep your sanity while crafting a $200m event film:

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On December 7, 1941, the naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Japanese planes. It was a day that lives in infamy, but now director Peter Berg has reconciled the Americans and Japanese (finally!) in the dumbest, broadest, most pointlessly explosive way possible with Battleship. This obnoxious chore of a movie suffers from two cardinal sins. One, it’s probably the smallest-feeling big movie of the past three decades. Two, it steals so much from other, better movies that there’s no doubt Universal‘s legal team spent time considering possible action. Everything from the script to the CGI are low quality, making this $200m tentpole feel like it was made for fifteen bucks and a pack of gum.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Tonight, it’s hanging on by a thread, as we enter Day Four of Dear Leader Neil Miller’s Mental Health Break Staycation. While he’s off eating the finest BBQ that FSR’s hometown of Austin, Texas has to offer and Instagraming all the way, the rest of us are slaving over our keyboards and monitors to bring you the best content we possibly can. Of course, for tonight’s round of MNAD, that includes kitty GIFs, Battleship love letters, and something about the world’s most green soda missing the boat on a marketing opportunity and saddling up with the wrong superhero (to super-sad effect). It’s Movie News After Dark! And, man, is it tired. I won’t bury the lede here, folks, some people love Peter Berg‘s Battleship. Our Cole Abaius is not one of them. But guess who is! Huffington Post’s Mike Ryan! The scribbler has penned a love letter to the film, and while I can’t quite agree with the sentiment, he brings up some interesting and articulate points. And, as Ryan is both a friend and a colleague, I can assure you – he’s not joking and he’s not trolling.

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Another adaptation of Dune has been kicking around for a little while now. The last we heard of it was Pierre Morel (Taken) quickly joining and then leaving the project, a project which Paramount soon after dropped. Four years ago a genuinely enticing filmmaker got attached to finally make it happen: Peter Berg. Berg, for those of you who don’t know, has his gigantic board game adaptation Battleship opening in theaters tomorrow. The Kingdom and Friday Night Lights director isn’t the first person to spring to mind when you think Dune, but Berg was certainly the most interesting director whose name was mentioned. The director can certainly do epic and big, but could he do fantasy? Either way, his plans fit nicely into his signature style: gritty and rough. When asked about what his plans for the film were, Berg told us, “My feeling was, I wanted to make a grittier, rougher film than the [David] Lynch movie. My experience with Dune was just a really great adventure story, and it was muscular, violent, and intense. Obviously there was a very cerebral, mystical, almost-supernatural component to it, and mind communication, and the Bene Gesserits were kind of a bunch of badass witches. At its core, I wanted to make something that felt more like Star Wars, where it just had more grit to it.”

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Today’s big story: Sure, The Avengers has made truck loads of money at the box office, but will The Dark Knight Rises make more? At least that’s what I’ve gathered from checking in on Twitter while disposing of Woodchuck Cider bottles in between episodes of my usual Sunday Afternoon Top Gear Marathon. Upon further inspection, we’ll come to note that Joss Whedon’s high-flying superhero team-up movie netted a staggering $103.4 million in its second week of release, dwarfing the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration Dark Shadows, which nostalgia-crawled its way to a $28 million dollar opening. As it turns out, the folks at Warner Bros. were hoping for something a little bit more.

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The Reject Report - Large

And so it comes, the end of The Reject Report, but we’re not going quietly into the night without fanfare. We’re leaving you with a breakdown for the Summer to come. It’s already been one of record-breakers and plenty of shawarma to go around, and we’ve only just begun. So right here is the way we see it rolling along, this Summer of 2012, and it’s sure to be one we’ll keep in our hearts. Tear.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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