Writer and director Thunder Levin's (yes, it's his real name) first directorial film was the classic Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood! I've never seen it, but I understand the dialogue was pretty good. Levin swears he had no idea of the plot of Battleship and has never even seen the trailer. This is amazing because the plot is almost identical.
Starring Mario Van Peebles as Captain Winston and Carl Weathers as General McKraken American Warships starts with the USS Iowa being taken apart and turned into a museum. Suddenly, a mysterious ship attacks the USS Enterprise. Yes, they're not above a little Star Trek humor. They chase after the invisible ship, which turns out to be a bunch of aliens that look, alarmingly, like a floating octopus with a female body part for a face.
All the while, the governments are headed for "World War III" because it's created an international incident. I don't know much about military strategy, but the escalation from a few coastal cities being attacked to launching bombers with nuclear warheads at North Korea seems pretty fast. Within hours they were at DEFCON 2. So much for diplomatic channels.
Most of the action in the film takes place on an actual battleship, the USS North Carolina in NC, while stock footage of ships and cities are blown up with fake explosions. This creates some humorous moments when footage has F-16s taking off and the planes changing into F/A-18s and F-15s in the air before being shot down as F-16s again. The alien weapons render all modern technology useless, so the crew is forced to rely on shortwave radio and old prop planes to attack the evil extra-terrestrials.
The movie has hilariously over-the-top dialogue "I'm not gonna let World War III start on my watch," growls Mario Van Peeples. The make-up effects are laughable and most victims look like they lost a fight with a ketchup bottle. One notable exception was a Navy SEAL who has "burns over 90% of his body." He looked like he had motor oil dumped on him.
Speaking of the Navy, the film seemed to waver between impressive military knowledge ("We don't salute indoors") to insanely inept depictions of Navy life. Highly trained Navy SEALS don't have enough self-control to avoid hooting at civilian women or complain about their mission. The captain and Lt. Caroline Bradley (Johanna Watts) openly smooch in full view of the crew revealing their secret love affair. The higher ranking Admiral is constantly being rebuffed and second-guessed by the Captain. I don't know much about military life, but I know when something feels wrong.
While American Warships certainly isn't the worst film I've ever seen (I'm looking at you Alien vs. Hunter) it's not the best by a wide margin. With weak acting, childish special effects and glaring plot holes, it's not goofy enough to be fun. Not bad enough to make fun of and in the end is just lame.
2 1/2 stars out of 5
Did you see American Warships this weekend? Would you want to? What was the last bad movie you've seen?
[Image Source: The Asylum]