Critics Consensus: Battleship Is All Wet

Plus, What to Expect When You're Expecting does the expected, and The Dictator generates vicious laughs.

This week at the movies, we've got nautical combat (Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna), pregnancy tribulations (What to Expect When You're Expecting, starring Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz), and a displaced despot (The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Anna Faris). What do the critics have to say?

Battleship

34%

A big-budget blockbuster based upon a board game, Battleship all but promises empty-headed thrills. On that count, critics say, it succeeds, though they also note that a few mindlessly awesome set pieces can't totally compensate for the film's thuddingly silly script. Years after NASA has sent a message to a nearby planet, a group of alien ships visit earth -- and they do not come in peace. A group of naval officers leads the charge against the invading armada, and explosions ensue. The pundits say Battleship is about as absurd as it sounds, and although some of the battles are pretty cool, the fun to be had here is of the guilty pleasure variety. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we run down memorable examples of cinematic naval triumphs..)

What to Expect When You're Expecting

22%

Since it was first published in 1984, the popular self-help book What to Expect When You're Expecting has helped to guide women through the turbulent months of pregnancy. Unfortunately, the big screen version lacks the unpredictability of real life, stranding its talented cast in a sitcommy plot. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Dennis Quaid, and Chris Rock, What to Expect When You're Expecting is the story of five interconnected couples dealing with a variety of pregnancy and childbirth-related issues, and it features plenty of spirited discussions from both male and female perspectives. The pundits say What to Expect contains occasional laughs fleeting moments of insight, but mostly, this all-star ensemble piece is strictly by-the-book.

The Dictator

57%

With the gonzo documentaries Borat and Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen established himself as one of contemporary cinema's most merciless satirists. Now he's graduated to scripted comedy, and critics say that while The Dictator isn't as outrageous or as teeth-clenchingly funny as Borat, it's just funny and un-P.C. enough to prove that Cohen hasn't gone soft. This loose remake of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator is the tale of an oppressive, buffoonish North African despot who survives a coup attempt that leaves him wandering the streets of New York City until a kindly hippie grocer (Anna Faris) takes a shine to him. The pundits say that not every joke in The Dictator works (and a few fall flat), but overall, the film provides enough gleeful tastelessness and sharp political observations to satisfy Cohen's fans.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Elena, a Russian thriller about an estranged family plotting to take control of a large inheritance, is at 100 percent.
  • Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary about the development process behind independent video games, is at 100 percent.
  • Polisse, a drama about the professional and personal trials of Paris' Child Protection Unit, is at 90 percent.
  • Beyond The Black Rainbow, a sci-fi/horror hybrid about a mute girl with psychic powers, is at 88 percent.
  • American Animal, a dramedy about two roommates whose friendship is tested when one decides to get a job, is at 83 percent.
  • Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog, a drama that follows a Labrador retriever from puppyhood to his days as a blind man's companion, is at 77 percent.
  • Lovely Molly, a horror film about a recently married woman who discovers malevolent forces in her childhood home, is at 57 percent.
  • The Color Wheel, a road trip comedy about a pair of feuding siblings, is at 50 percent.
  • Hysteria, starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a period piece about the invention of the vibrator during the prudish Victorian era, is at 45 percent.
  • The Samaritan, starring Samuel L. Jackson in a thriller about an ex-con who finds the past difficult to shake, is at 35 percent.
  • Mansome, a documentary by Morgan Spurlock about men's grooming habits, is at 20 percent.
  • Virginia, starring Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly in a drama about a single mother and her long-term extramarital affair with the town sheriff, is at zero percent.

Comments

Harrison B.

Harrison Brenner

Nothing seems too exciting. I think I'm gonna see the avengers again!

May 17 - 05:18 PM

Matt Lane

Matt Lane

ouch Battleship only pulled $9mil on friday, the movie is a major flop

May 19 - 04:17 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The sad thing is that "Battleship" might actually make more money than "John Carter".

I think it's lame and boo to call "Dictator" a "loose remake" of Chaplin's "Great Dictator". Despite the obvious similar title and, no doubt, Cohen's desperation to put himself in the same class of comedian as the Great Charlie Chaplin, there is no real basis for calling this a remake. Unless by 'loose' you mean how vulnerable and willing the audience is to being lied to. Despite the fact that Hynkle was a separate character from his doppleganger barber, the absence of the Holocaust context makes such a similarity doubley insulting. I'm not even saying that "Dictator" may not be actually funny. Stranger things have happened. But let's cool it on the Chaplin comparisons until SBC manages to make a movie with any kind of political coherence.

"Beyond the Black Rainbow" is a must for me, and I'll be keeping my eye on it. I'll also have to check out "Lovely Molly", for my Blair Witch loyalties. "Mansome" can't possibly be that bad, and I'm still curious in "Virginia", even if Dustin Lance Black may not be the most acute observer of such hetero subject matter. "Color Wheel" is intriguing for the alluring Carlen Altman. I pray to Vishnu that "Polisse" doesn't inspire another horrid reality TV show for a channel that should be showing educational content.

May 17 - 05:21 PM

C Damien Belyeu

C Damien Belyeu

On your call about the Great Dictator, I cannot agree more. That movie was a landmark, and has one of the most memorable speeches in movie history. What does The Dictator have to offer? A joke about a misunderstanding, revolving around the Statue of Liberty.
This writer clearly has never seen the Great Dictator, besides, the plots of the two are apples and oranges. In short, The Dictator should never be considered a remake of The Great Dictator. Ever.

May 17 - 07:59 PM

King  S.

King Simba

You can blame all of that on the marketing. Both Battleship and John Carter had pretty weak first trailers. However, while with John Carter Disney remained completely clueless how to market that thing, with Battleship Universal took note from earlier reactions and changed the marketing, selling as a Roland Emerich-type disaster movie.

They also pretty wisely had it debut early internationally allowing it to collect as much money as possible before Avengers came and crushed it. Granted, all of that still isn't going to be enough to get a franchise out of Battleship, but still you gotta give Universal credit for turning something that everyone was predicting at the begining of the year to be a disaster into something that might actuallly break even. If only they had put as much effort into the film's actual quality.

May 18 - 12:53 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"If only they had put as much effort into the film's actual quality."

It's sad because the "John Carter" filmmakers definitely prioritized the quality over the marketing. I'm still not sold on Taylor Kitsch being the star he's being groomed to be. He's tommorrow's Sam Worthington.

May 18 - 06:43 AM

Spirit Bear

Martin Tam

agreed...he's pretty hum drum. No real personality or emotion

May 18 - 06:50 AM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

With luck this will be the last time he's forced upon us. They grab these WB actors and give them leading roles in big budget films, and the result is less than shocking. Although I will note Johnny Depp got his start on FOX, at least he has charisma.

May 18 - 09:45 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Clooney got his start on "Sisters". There's some mid '90s prime time drama for ya.

May 18 - 11:09 AM

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

He didn't get his start on Sisters. His acting career on TV started long before then.

May 18 - 08:20 PM

Jaxx Raxor

Adam Jones

I think Universal intended Battleship to primarily be an international film to begin with. The United States has both racial diversity and more importantly a lot of money to put into the special effects of big budget films, which many other countries do not have for their own domestic movie industries. So I guess that is a reason why films like Battleship will probably do modestly in the United States and Canada but do well in Asia and Europe.

May 18 - 09:05 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Not that it even compares to the Holocaust tragedy, but what these Dictators that Cohen is making fun of have been doing to their people over their incredible lengthy reigns is nothing to sneer at either.

May 18 - 01:25 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Is that sincerely SBC's point? The lack of 'coherence' I mentioned refers to how he'll brush up against political material in his films, but rarely in context of an actual political conviction. It can be said that Borat says something about American xenophobia, but he also gets away with portraying such a stereotypical foreigner that he seems to be indulging in the same thing he's supposedly incriminating.

"Great Dictator" cannot be divorced from the clear statement Chaplin was making at that time. It's true that he, or virtually anyone outside of Germany, didn't know the full extent of the 'solution', but the contrast between the dictator and the barber is not some fish-out-of-water scenario. It might be more accurate (though harldy less silly) to say that this new "Dictator" is a loose remake of "Coming to America" or even "Prince and the Pauper", but until SBC manages writing as timeless as Chaplin's final scene, that's a crown SBC doesn't deserve to wear.

May 18 - 06:38 AM

Epic Barney Funk

Barney Funk

Battleship still looks better than the other releases this weekend. However, Avengers will still make the most for yet another number one spot at the top of the box office.

May 17 - 05:49 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

Nothing new this week! Next week, I'll see Men in Black 3.

May 17 - 06:29 PM

Merc With a Mouth

Sawyer Jackson

Battleship's rating comes as a surprise to nobody.

Oh well. Off to see The Avengers again.

May 17 - 06:40 PM

Jaxx Raxor

Adam Jones

Everyone expects that Avengers won't fall until next weekend when MIB3 is released into theaters, but I think there is a good chance that Battleship can defeat Avengers this weekend. It all depends on whatever USA/Canadian audiences are willing to see a new but empty action film over an excellent but "old" action film. If Avengers drops 50% again and makes 50 million then Battleship could definitely come out barely ahead. Battleship should make more than Dark Shadow's 28 million as the former is not a niche movie like the latter (and the other two wide releases this week) and that could be enough to topple Avengers.

May 17 - 07:20 PM

King  S.

King Simba

A 50% drop is way too high for Avengers. Film's very rarely drop as much in their third weekend as they do in their second, especially with films like Avengers, where the second weekend was hurt by the fanboy hype. Hunger Games for example fell 61% in it's second weekend, yet only 42% in its third weekend.

The best comparison to Avengers would be Iron Man. Both fell around 50% in their second weekend. Iron Man would go on to drop only 38% in its third weekend. If Avengers continues following Iron Man's pace you're looking at 65 mil in its third weekend, more than enough to beat Battleship.

Also, I have a feeling Battleship will dissapoint. The film has done well internationally....provided it opened before Avengers. In markets where it's had to open after Avengers it really struggled (like South America for example). It simply looks too similair to Avengers except vastly inferior. And given what Avengers did to films that weren't even the same genre (Dark Shadows last week, while even Dictator struggled this wensday), I can't imagine what it's going to do to Battleship.

May 18 - 01:03 AM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

Personally, i don't think "Battleship" stands a chance of knocking off "Avengers", i just don't see enough of a drop from "Avengers" to do that. "Avengers" will most likely drop 40-45%, which would leave it between 57-62 million, an amount i don't see "Battleship" approaching. I'll say "Avengers" 60 million and "Battleship" 40-45 million this weekend.

May 18 - 03:38 AM

Jimmy G.

Jimmy Gee

I don't see any way that Battleship comes out good. I SERIOUSLY doubt that it will beat Avengers this week, or MIB next week. Actually, it will probably even be 3rd next week, who knows? It is headed for complete and utter disaster. The reviews say its crap, and if you're in in it for sheer spectacle, there is still the Avengers and later MIB to satisfy that craving. Then, just a couple weeks from now, is the gargantuan SciFi release Prometheus. Whoever is responsible for the release of this movie is going to get fired--they should have moved it to late summer, released it earlier this year, or pushed it back to anotehr holiday date (Thanksgiving or Christmas). This is going to be another John Carter fail, and won't make as much as that flick did (at least here in the US)

May 18 - 06:55 AM

Jaxx Raxor

Adam Jones

I'm confused, your saying MIB 3 won't beat Avengers? MIB 3 is the next really big movie and that film should get around 80-120 million at the box office which should definitely beat Avengers.

In terms of this weekend, if Avengers holds better than 50% then it should beat Battleship.

May 18 - 09:00 AM

Jimmy G.

Jimmy Gee

I wasn't saying that. Sorry about the confusion--I might not have written clearly enough. I DO think MIB will beat Avengers, and probably pretty soundly. I'm saying that I can definitely see Battleship as 3rd place NEXT week.

May 18 - 09:33 AM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

Yeah, "MIB 3" will definantly unseat "The Avengers" next week, however i don't quite see 120 million over the 4 day weekend for "MIB 3", i don't think it will have quite that strong of a opening. I'll say more like 80-90 million over the four day weekend for it, and probally 40-50 million for "The Avengers".

May 19 - 01:17 PM

King  S.

King Simba

Well, midnight results on in and the film made a mere 420k on 1074 theaters. That's a weaker start than John Carter. Dictator also hasn't been doing well based on its wensday and thursday results. Avengers will have no trouble at all repeating on top again this weekend.

May 18 - 10:25 AM

Luvagoo

Tallulah Robinson

I'm not in America, so I dunno when these come out here, but, yeah.

Avengers again.

May 17 - 07:37 PM

Gary Foster

Gary Foster

I was expecting "Battleship misses", but thats just me.

May 17 - 07:48 PM

C Damien Belyeu

C Damien Belyeu

On your call about the Great Dictator, I cannot agree more. That movie was a landmark, and has one of the most memorable speeches in movie history. What does The Dictator have to offer? A joke about a misunderstanding, revolving around the Statue of Liberty.
This writer clearly has never seen the Great Dictator, besides, the plots of the two are apples and oranges. In short, The Dictator should never be considered a remake of The Great Dictator. Ever.

May 17 - 07:59 PM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

avengers again nothing till MIB and that's a big maybe

May 17 - 08:40 PM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE

May 17 - 08:41 PM

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