A friend asked me to go with him to see Battleship tonight. He convinced me that it was going to be so awful that it would end up being awesome. I had a free movie ticket so I figured, why the heck not. I’m a big fan of Peter Berg’s, I think Taylor Kitsch is a hottie, Viking god Alexander Skarsgard was going to be in it along with Liam Neeson, and I loved the board game. I figured, if I went in with clear eyes and a full heart, this movie couldn’t lose, right? Well, when you go in with colossally low expectations, you end up having a pretty good time. Battleship was actually pretty decent, and I think were it not for its weak trailer, it probably would have fared better at the box office. If I were to sum it up, Battleship is part Top Gun (yes, I am aware that this is air force vs the navy and it’s a crime to compare them but it’s more of a reference to the similarity between Tom Cruise’s Maverick and Taylor Kitsch’s Alex Hopper) part Transformers.
It’s a shame that movies these days live or die by their trailers, especially with an ailing economy that results in more people waiting movies out until they go on DVD. Whoever whipped up the trailer for Battleship needs to sit down and evaluate his or her life choices. Not only did they splice together perhaps the least impressive parts of the film, the trailer made the movie out to be about mindless action where random shit blows up. In fact, the movie spent a good chunk of time developing the characters of the story. Taylor Kitsch plays Alex Hopper, a clever but unmotivated twentysomething who spends most of his days drinking and sleeping and being a nuisance for his much more disciplined boy scout of an older brother, Stone Hopper (the most awesome name ever, I might add), played by Alexander Skarsgard. After another fuck-up involving a chicken burrito, a beautiful blonde and the police, Stone has had enough of Alex’s antics and gives him an ultimatum: join big bro at the Navy or face the consequences. Fast forward to a few months and Alex is a lieutenant in the Navy, but he’s still as stubborn, hot-tempered and prone to rash decisions as before. During some naval exercises, aliens decide to invade the planet and Alex finds himself in charge of a naval destroyer going head to head with these unfriendly visitors. Chaos ensues and Alex has to man up to save, well, the Earth.
I thought it was a really smart move to devote a good chunk of time to building up Taylor Kitsch’s character. He’s a charming guy and incredibly easy on the eyes, and I don’t know why the heck he’s had such bad luck with movies lately. First, with that godawful excuse for a movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and then just zero good marketing for John Carter (whose trailer was also poorly done). I mean, the guy can’t catch a break, and he’s not even remotely the worst actor in Hollywood right now. The guy has potential, and it’s such a shame that people don’t give him a chance. I thought he was awesome in Friday Night Lights and I think he has what it takes to be a lead actor, which Battleship certainly proves. If only this movie was released before John Carter, I think it would have helped the latter out a bit more.
One of the criticisms I’ve encountered about the film (one I, too, shared prior to seeing it) was that it didn’t seem to have anything to do with the board game Battleship, which if anyone recalls, had nothing to do with alien invasions of any sort. However, upon seeing the film I really liked the way they incorporated the board game into the story. It was unexpected, not literal, but it was certainly obvious enough to fans of the board game. Besides, would anyone even want a literal interpretation of the board game?
While there were certainly some plot holes that were unresolved, and there wasn’t enough explanation or back story about the aliens that ended up invading, I thought the story played out well, although the climax could have used a little bit more drama and suspense. Overall I thought the film was funny, entertaining and had some interesting characters. Rihanna was cool in it (I loved when she said “Mahalo, motherfucker” even though it didn’t exactly make sense in the context of what was going on haha), and Jesse Plemons as per usual was his adorable self. Yes, it’s cheesy, it had some lulzy moments, but overall I thought it was a lot of fun. I think it was only slightly less entertaining than the first Transformers film, and that’s saying a lot. I really hope people give this movie a chance and see it before they make conclusions about it. It’s not amazing or anything but it’s certainly not as horrible as people have been saying. Like with Snow White and the Huntsman, a viewer’s expectations really influence how enjoyable a movie can be. I think it’s unreasonable to expect a movie like this to be epic or profound. Sure, the science is pretty ridiculous and the Big Bad has some serious flaws, but when you have a movie based on a board game is it not reasonable to suspend one’s disbelief for a few hours? It’s a solid enough popcorn movie with likable characters that makes the Navy look pretty badass.