Published on May 17th, 2012 | by dvdpinson0
Battleship is All-American Summer Cinema
It seems that every discussion about “Battleship” begins with the same glaring questions.
Why make a movie based on a dusty old board game?
And why, if you must make said movie, would you put aliens in it?
A couple of months ago I saw director Peter Berg (“Hancock,” “Friday Night Lights”) discuss the film at WonderCon and the first words out of his mouth were in defense of these discussions.
The gist of his responses were:
1) Why “Battleship”? His dad was in the Navy. Mr. Berg is a Navy Nut and always wanted to make a movie about the Navy. That didn’t really answer the question. I guess the real question should be: Why not just make a movie about the Navy and leave the corporate tie-ins to the guys who want to make a horror movie based on “Operation”?
2) Why aliens? Mr. Berg went on to tell the rapt audience that he had seen some Carl Sagan special about “Goldilocks” planet that exist in the universe that are near identical to Earth. We are sending communication signals to these planets but that it probably isn’t a good idea. What if they are assholes? Again, question not really answered and I walked away from the panel thinking that Mr. Berg would make a great politician.
The real issue with making a movie based on a board game that has very little to do with the actual movie you’ve made is that there is an underlying stupidity to it. The whole concept is just dumb. But when you sit down to take in “Battleship” you will be quick to realize that the movie IS dumb in that “Big, Dumb Summer Movie” way. While the IQ of the film is low, there are enough explosions and action to satisfy and this will help you come to terms with the title choice. It is just par for the course.
The plot is mix/match of ideas we have seen before: Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a hotshot maverick Navel officer that doesn’t play by the rules. He is literally in love with the Admiral’s daughter, Sam (Brooklyn Decker). The Admiral (Liam Neeson) does not approve. While on mission drills off the coast of Hawaii, Hopper learns that his latest hijinks have gotten him kicked out of the Navy. The man obviously has some inner-character growth to go through and luckily there is an Alien Attack that will provide him the opportunity to become a better man.
At first glance there are some similarities to Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series. After all, the toy company Hasbro makes both the “Battleship” game and the morphing toys and this name recognition is probably the real reason behind the title choice. In actuality “Battleship” resembles everything Michael Bay is known for. You have the constantly moving cameras, quirky characters, huge action sequences and lovers laying in the grass talking about how the pretty lady’s father will never approve (right out of “Armageddon”). “Battleship” also pulls liberally from “Top Gun” and really could have just as easily been called “Navy Top Gun” or “Top Gun with Boats”.
But with all this said, I didn’t hate “Battleship”.
Rihanna does a decent job. The aliens are cool enough. In fact, they are a little clumsy and that adds a level of realism (I use the word very loosely). The characters are plenty likable.
The film pretends to be nothing more than mindless entertainment and it does pack enough huge special effects and laughs to make the masses glaze over with joy. Big guns, big explosions and Brooklyn Decker all presented to the delightful strains of “AC/DC”. This is All-American Summer Cinema.