Weekend Forecast for May 18-20, 2012

By Reagen Sulewski

May 18, 2012

I think I just sunk the technology studio that created John Carter.

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Hollywood abandons the typical May strategy of “one film per week” for a triple-header this weekend, though we're likely to see the reign of The Avengers continue for at least one more week. A couple of adaptations from unusual sources aren't likely to dethrone it, nor a shock comedy from a controversial comic.

This week's entry in the “are they kidding us?” file is Battleship. Yes, based on the game. Following Transformers and GI Joe, this is the third Hasbro property to get the big screen treatment, and the first board game adaptation I can think of since Clue. Of course, Clue has the benefit of having something of a plot, while the grid and peg guessing game that is Battleship is about the furthest thing from that. Everyone involved seems to have realized that pretty early on, so aside from the fact that it takes place mostly on ships and that there appears to be some sort of peg-based weapony (how have we not thought of this sooner!), there's basically nothing to connect it to the game. The antagonists? Aliens, apparently. Crass capitalism on a brand name in Hollywood? Why, I never!

Taylor Kitsch, likely still licking his wounds from this spring's John Carter, takes the lead role, playing Ben Affleck in Armageddon, while Liam Neeson makes an appearance as a character who might as well be named “How Much? Okay, I'll Do It”. With all the money that's getting thrown around for actors, a little falls Alexander Skarsgard's way, as well as towards Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker. And where you might expect to find an anonymous hack in the director's chair, we have... Peter Berg? Isn't he talented?


Apparently what he really wanted to be is Michael Bay, which might explain why this looks like mini-Transformers, or if we're being generous, the Navy version of Top Gun, if they'd fought robotic-looking aliens instead of Russians. Battleship is aiming at being the first noisy, uncomplicated action movie of the summer season, which often pays off (see: Twister, The Mummy) regardless of the quality of the movie. In Battleship's case, that quality is evidently not very high, but it also is unapologetic about that fact, essentially hinging its advertising on “come watch stuff blow up! At sea!”.

While Universal is obviously hoping for something like a Transformers performance to justify a franchise, I think this might be a premise too far for most self-respecting movie-goers. It's simply too much to ask of people to get them to a movie based on guessing letters and numbers. If nothing else, we need Battleship to do poorly so that Eli Roth doesn't get handed Operation. The silliness probably puts a cap on its ultimate take, but it should manage around $42 million this weekend.

Three years after alienating basically all of his defenders with Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a lead role, in The Dictator, which opened Wednesday. Deviating from his ambush documentary style (being far too well known at this point to surprise anyone), Cohen goes more straightforward with the film, playing Admiral General Aladeen of the fictional country Wadiya, who he lovingly oppresses, until he's secretly overthrown and stranded in America, where he tries to live incognito.

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