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You Sunk My Battleship: Another Asylum Knock-Off Only For Lovers Of Bad Movie Mayhem
on May 18, 2012
3 1/2 stars for Asylum (or bad SyFy) Fans
1 1/2 stars: Everyone Else
I have to credit the cheapie studio The Asylum for creating an entirely new movie term (or at least beating it into mainstream consciousness). They have created the Mockbuster. Every year, the studio seems to look at the upcoming summer movie releases and then tries to replicate the larger studio offerings. The SyFy network will then broadcast these low budget endeavors on the same weekend that the original flicks hit the theater. It's actually pretty funny. However, last year, things struck a little too close as Asylum released "Battle of Los Angeles" as "Battle: Los Angeles" was in theaters and a confusion in the DVD market upset a number of consumers. Maybe that's why this year Asylum found itself in a legal battle with Universal Studios over this particular movie. As "Battleship" opens wide in movie houses, Asylum had readied "American Battleship" for the SyFy crowd on the same weekend. But with an impending lawsuit, the title has recently morphed into "American Warships" even as the movie remains a blatant copy of its more extravagant cousin.
I never expect much from an Asylum film, most are shot in a few days with a couple of nickels as the budget. But sometimes bad movie magic strikes. Some of the endeavors have been brilliantly bad (I mean that as a compliment) while others have just been bad bad. "American Warships" is actually a movie that benefits from lowered expectations because, by Asylum standards, it seems much more accomplished than some of their other offerings. Sure it's still silly, but it's a fun and entertaining silliness. The CGI effects are better than anticipated (once again, by Asylum standards, not feature film). But what takes this a step up from the ordinary are the committed performances. Note, I didn't say good--I said committed. It's so over-the-top delightful. For a bad movie to work, the actors have to convince you (often with limited resources and extreme line readings) that the fate of the world rests in their hands. I believed it here even when it was wooden and painfully overwrought.
Mario Van Peebles finds himself the captain of a battleship when a strange attack by alien forces seem to have crippled our ordinary defenses. As circumstances grow more dire, some hard decisions need to be made. As the attacks continue, the only option available may be a nuclear one. Of course, the implications of this aren't very pleasant but may be inevitable. Helping with these hard decisions, the cast also boasts an appearance by Carl Weathers as a General and Johanna Watts (surprisingly likable) as a lieutenant. Can the invasion be stopped? Will our heroic troops survive?
I truly struggle when reviewing bad movies. Why? Because for me, there is a difference between watching something for free and paying to own it on DVD. To be fair, many of these SyFy movies are rated by viewers that saw them on TV for free. I could watch nonsense non-stop at home on SyFy and be happy enough. Most of what I watch, however, I would not pay for or recommend to someone else for purchase. So my honest suggestion with "American Warships" is to catch it for free before deciding whether to invest. It's not something that I would choose to revisit anytime soon, but I've seen much worse from Asylum. And I had a fair share of laughs with this one. KGHarris, 5/12.