Does It Swim Or Does It Sink?
NASA scientists discover a planet that is similar to Earth. They build a communications beacon and send a signal to the planet in an effort to contact any intelligent life that might dwell on the planet. Eventually, the signal is received but these particular aliens do not come in peace. The extra terrestrials have decided to claim Earth as their own and begin to put their planetary conquest into action.
The aliens set their sights on Hawaii as their main base of operations. The only force that stands between the aliens and their plans for planet conquering is a small group of naval battleships. It will be up to Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) to lead the charge but his lack of leadership skills and quick temper may lose the battle for the human race before it has even begun.
Well, I give a nod of respect and awe to screenwriters, Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, for taking a board game about longitude, latitude, and coordinates and adding on an alien invasion, incredible alien crafts and gung-ho characters ready to fight against such a mighty army. It certainly had all the right ingredients for a typical summer blockbuster and the film worked as simply that. After watching Marvel's The Avengers (2012) set an impressive standard for how a blockbuster could be it was a bit disappointing to sit through a film that reflected the hollow standards of the typical summer action movie that's all flash and not much substance.
Actually, that's not entirely true. There were some remarkably deep moments in Battleship. The film serves an additional purpose as a creative tribute to the Armed Forces. Though the Navy is the central military branch used in the film I will take some liberty with the concept and stretch it to include the Army, Air Force, Marines and other “arms” of the Armed Forces. Veterans are given an honorable nod and even play a part in saving the day. Handicapped veterans are represented through “Lt. Col. Mick Canales” played by Gregory D. Gadson as the alien invasion provides him with an opportunity to shrug off his depression and join the battle to save Earth. There's also a nice though small attempt to bring some international unity to the adventure when Capt. Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is brought on to aid the Lt. Hopper in the battle against the invaders.
Other than that the film is practically like watching a Michael Bay film. Though he isn't noted as one of the producers it certainly felt like I was sitting through a spliced film made up from pieces of Transformers (2007) and Pearl Harbor (2001). I'm pretty sure his influence was tied to this film somehow even if the filmmakers just copied his bombastic style of cinema.
By the end of the film all I could think of was how silly it was for the aliens to adopt the humans form of war etiquette. I realize that the concept was for the aliens to feel that the humans were such a non-threat that there was no need to be unnecessarily aggressive unless someone fired a missile at one of their ships. Then they would fire back with an abundance of firepower. If the aliens had just blown away the battleships then the movie would've been 129 minutes shorter. I get that. It just seemed like the logic was very loose in Battleship as the mere humans magically realized the weaknesses in the alien's defenses and then used comparatively paltry weapons to take down battle-craft that is lightyears ahead of Earth's most advanced technology. It was like watching a bunch of pistols vs a bunch of armored tanks and I was just supposed to believe that the pistols would win because the bullets hit just the right marks in the tank's armored shell. By the time the end credits rolled I just didn't care anymore and I was elated to be able to leave the theater. I even had a longing to sneak into the theater showing Marvel's The Avengers (2012) where a group consisting of a Norse god, a man in an iron suit and a Super Solider actually made more sense than a battleship fighting a heavily equipped alien warship.
Some of the buzz has been about Taylor Kitsch as his career leans towards “leading man” status. Actually, Mr. Kitsch wasn't too bad as the clumsy hero “Lt. Hopper”. He does that whole “quiet intensity” pretty well where he barely speaks above “inside voice” level. He has a great body, sexy eyes and incredible hair. Yes, it is even incredible when it is given a military cut. Though I think he was better served in John Carter (2012) he will probably be noted more for Battleship because it is much more mainstream and a lot easier to follow than a wild tale about a planet hopping dude from the 1800s saving Mars from tyranny. And, yes, John Carter was actually more logical than Battleship. Not sure if either film puts Taylor in line to be the next leading man superstar. John Carter was more of an ensemble piece while Battleship was just a roller coaster that everyone sat in while the special effects pushed the car along the tracks.
Liam Neeson is just one of those actors who shows up and everything just feels better, richer and powerful. Then he leaves and it feels like someone took all the sparkle out of the room. In other words, it is always nice to see Liam Neeson on the big screen. As a fan of True Blood (the series....sorry, but haven't picked up the original novels and most likely won't because the show is satisfying enough for me) it was a blast to see Alexander Skarsgard as Alex's older and more responsible brother, “Cmdr. Stone Hopper”. Brooklyn Decker thankfully turned out to be much more than just a wispy love interest for “Alex Hopper” while Jessy Plemons provides some effective moments of comic relief. I think Rihanna fans and even non-fans will give a positive nod towards the singer in her acting debut. Her Gunner's Mate Second Class character, “Cora Raikes”, is just as tough as the dudes. Imagine a cuter version of “Private Vasquez” from Aliens (1986) and that's Cora.
Battleship is the classic summer blockbuster full of noise and stuff blowing up. The film has some redeemable qualities such as a decent cast and a fantastic tribute to Armed Forces soldiers everywhere. Otherwise, the film was just a sophisticated light show with an ambitious yet sloppy plot that ends up stretched too thin for a 131 running time. If you're looking to just have a good thrill and only a good thrill in the theater then climb aboard. If you want more than that Marvel's The Avengers is still playing, The Hunger Games (2012) is still out there and there are plenty more blockbusters coming up that will probably be much more fulfilling for your body, mind and wallet.
PS – There is a bonus scene after the end credits. If you still have enough energy to stick around for it then have fun and I hope it's worth it. I just read about it online.....and groaned at the possibility of a Battleship sequel.
Rhymes With: Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009), GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2009), The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), I Am Legend (2007), Pearl Harbor (2001), Independence Day (1996)