Let’s face it, if you go into a film based on a board game, featuring an alien invasion, and starring Rihanna, you shouldn’t go expecting Citizen Kane. Frankly, if you are expecting some big thoughtful character piece, you’re even bigger moron than this film was designed for.
So, bearing in mind that when you go see something like this, you’re expecting stupid but fun, this completely met my expectations. In terms of blockbusters, it is easily better than the second Transformers, and probably a little bit worse than the first one (which really is a masterclass in making something loud, stupid but very very enjoyable. Seriously.)
The basic “plot” is that a slacker (Taylor Kitsch of mega-flop “John Carter” fame) is forced to join the navy by his brother (Alexander Skarsgard from True Blood). A few years later, he wants to propose to his girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker, no me neither) but WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT, her dad (Liam Neeson, slumming it yet again) is his boss and he bloody hates him. What are the chances?!
Anyway, just when this guy needs to prove how amazing he is, aliens invade and… well things explode for a bit. And they’re pretty decent explosions. As far as special effects go, this is fairly upmarket stuff, and let’s be honest, the CGI is the most important character in something like this.
The rest of the characters don’t really get a look in. I couldn’t tell you a single name, I just knew them as “Main Guy” “Main Guy’s Brother” “Blonde” “Albino Matt Damon” and “Rihanna”. Taylor Kitsch is actually very charming and charismatic, you can see why he’s tipped to be the next big star. Plus, he is FIT. Alexander Skarsgard (also FIT, as seen here) seems to think he’s in a much more intellectual film, bless him, Liam Neeson’s “American” accent is once again utterly bizarre, and Rihanna isn’t bad. I mean, her comic timing needs some serious work, but she’s a very likeable girl. Although, I can’t have been the only one in the cinema feeling a little uneasy when one of the aliens back-handed her. TOO SOON.
The direction is bizarre. At some points, it’s amazing, particularly in the final sequence when there are a lot of very large turreted guns being swung about, and everything is shot at the most impressive angle. And yet whenever one of the cameras focused on one of the alien ships, the camera would go FUCKING MENTAL, zooming in and out all over the place. I can understand why they chose to do it like that, making the aliens seem that bit more alien, plus never leaving them in a static shot means the audience is never entirely sure what they look like. But frankly, it just came across as a cheap Michael Bay-esque trick that gave me a headache.
As for the aliens… well as expected, they have a crucial weakness, as they ALWAYS do in this sort of thing. And the way that this weakness is deduced is ridick, with one character making leaps of logic so wide even Sherlock Holmes would be all “Dude, really?!”. The weakness itself is insane too, if you hated the explanations in Signs (water) or Independence Day (a virus from Windows 95) then get ready to froth at the mouth. Particularly since these are the stupidest aliens in any film ever. Considering their technology, they have the power to obliterate most of mankind, and yet they do everything they can to give the humans the best possible chance of winning. I know, I know, that’s sort of the point of these things, but even so. If you have to make the bad guys mind-numbingly thick to make it an even fight, maybe don’t give them such good equipment in the first place?
Frankly, I can forgive all this. When I first left the cinema I didn’t think of any of the bad points, because I had actually switched my brain off, as you are supposed to do, I was enjoying the explosions and silliness to much. It’s mindless good fun. The thing that annoyed me most was how it seems to think it’s much cleverer than it actually is. Dumping in quotes from the Art of War, or Homer (surprisingly the Greek, not Simpson) or having characters listening to classical music, just makes the whole thing seem even stupider, becuase you just know, no one has a fucking idea what they’re talking about.
Had it just accepted it’s fate as a stupid film, it was cruising it’s way to a nice, healthy three star rating. But if you start expecting me to treat like an intelligent film, then that’s exactly what I have to do…