Weekend Chatter: Is 'Battleship' Director Peter Berg the New Michael Bay?
Peter Berg’s Battleship is it’s own type of blockbuster … sort of.
Don’t get me wrong. This is the first time we’ve see Berg (or any director) adapt a classic Hasbro board game into a bombastic, planet-threatening summer thrill ride that stars a model-turned-actress (Brooklyn Decker), a singer-turned-actress (Rihanna), and a former Jedi Master (Liam Neeson).
But you’ll notice while watching Battleship this weekend that Berg borrows a few of his key, jaw-dropping images from the playbook of Mr. Michael Bay.
Fireballs raining from the skies and taking out skyscrapers in major global cities? The Transformers series has that covered. Heck, Revenge of the Fallen all but decimated Chicago, and that was just last summer.
How about that slow-motion strut of retired Naval officers who are returning to duty to fight extraterrestrials? Oh yeah, that’s the Armageddon walk.
Here’s the difference, though. Berg seems to take a few of Bay’s signature moves and somehow improve on them. The camerawork is less chaotic. The clichés are a little less heavy-handed. It makes for a more enjoyable movie-going experience.
This triggered a pretty heated discussion in the Fandango offices, so we wanted to take it online: Is Peter Berg a better director than Michael Bay? And should he be the new default director for large-scale, boom-and-bang eye candy blockbusters?
It’s interesting: This is all coming to a head as Bay is trying to distance himself from the Transformers franchise. His next picture, Pain & Gain, is a dark comedy with a low budget and no Decepticons. Berg, meanwhile, helmed Hancock and The Rundown, but isn’t the first name in action directing. Should he be?
Let us know what you think. Is Berg better than Bay? Should he be the “new” Bay? Or do you like Mike, and want him to get back to Transformers 4, Bad Boys 3, or something equally gratuitous as quickly as possible? Share your thoughts below!
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.