Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mockbusted #6: American Warships

Unlike evidently most people, I quite enjoyed the board game movie Battleship. It had its flaws, certainly, but for what its worth, it translated the game well, had some fun characters and interesting visuals, and is by far the best example I've seen of the recent Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich-style sci-fi disaster genre. The mockbuster American Warships had potential, but ultimately fails to live up to or surpass the original in my eyes, as many other mockbusters I've reviewed have in the past.

"We're gonna need a bigger American Warship."

The set up is almost exactly the same, save for the protagonist being the stalwart captain (here played by Mario Van Peebles, taking over for Liam Neeson), rather than a lowly cadet in need of a life lesson. Like the original movie, an encounter with some mysterious attacker in the water on the eve of a WWII ship's decommission leads to the discovery of a secret extraterrestrial threat. As I assume this movie has aired on the SyFy Channel at some point, I appreciated the subtle nod to Battlestar Galactica, that the sole reason their ship isn't knocked out by an alien EMP device is because its so old and primitive, but that's just the first of many elements that could have amounted to something, but never quite makes it there into anything interesting.

This movie is so boring, this was the third screen cap found on Google Images

There are some concepts that even come close to being better ideas than those in the original film, but they never come to anything. The alien ships are mostly invisible throughout the movie, perhaps arguably providing for a more straight forward Battleship translation, and we even get a dramatic line from the captain along the lines of "They won't sink MY battleship!" Also, a significant subplot in this film ignored in the original due to the larger scope is that other countries can't necessarily see whats going on, leading hostile nations to interpret the events at sea as possibly escalating international conflicts, which could have added an extra layer of tension to the proceedings if they had bothered to establish that tone at any point. I actually liked the aliens, bad CGI not withstanding. They're sort of creepily floating plant/reptile monster things, and their motivation of getting us to nuke each other to essentially terraform the planet to suit their irradiated biology is more interesting then the monkeys out for conquest in Battleship, but again, its not executed well enough for any of it to matter.

Behold, the Vaginafacian Invasion Fleet!

Is it just me, or shouldn't I come into this movie with the expectation that Mario Van Peebles, Carl Weathers, and aliens in the same film should invariably result in at least one of these B movie action stars punching an alien in the face? Is that too much to ask? Instead, both men join the rest of the cast in listlessly sleepwalking through very dry and dour performances, with Solo spending most of his time looking through binoculars at CGI submarines, and Apollo Chubbs spending his sitting in a room awaiting orders from the government. The success of these kinds of movies hinges on the people involved in all areas of the production embracing the cheesily awesome potential of no one else giving a shit to turn around and make something great, but here, it feels like most of the cast and crew are just out for a paycheck, buying into the bullshit notion that low budget straight to DVD schlock is inherently worthless, so why even try.

Apollo Stubbs, Action Bureaucrat

The movie quickly devolves into the two sides taking pot shots at each other until one goes down, without any of the ingenuity or spirit that made Battleship inexplicably enjoyable. Given the almost instant negative reaction to the film upon which this is based, there seems to have been so much room to experiment and do something twisted with it. Maybe make the enemy ship supernatural in nature instead of alien, launching fleets of Pterodactyls or firing Cthuloid squid monsters out of cannons onto unsuspecting crewman. Hell, why not go all the way with it and change the setting completely, making it a Steampunk Pirate adventure? Something, anything to change things up from this dull exercise in unnecessarily tedious non-action. American Warships left me as bored as the game upon which it isn't quite based on, and I can't recommend it.

Out of the movie via horrible death, he truly is the luckiest one here.

Like Grimm's Snow White, it is currently available on Netflix Streaming, but especially in light of the next mockbuster I'm going to review, which is also on that service and might just be the best thing on the entire website, I wouldn't bother with this one.

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