Battleship

For some reason, we in the UK have been treated to an early release of Battleship, 5 weeks ahead of its 18 May USA release. This is the film based on the classic board game, and from the studio responsible for the Transformers movies. Scientists send a transmission to the distant Planet G in search of extra-terrestrial life, and get a response in the form of an invasion from a fleet of 5 ships, which land in the ocean near to where some Naval exercises are taking place (careless planning on the part of the aliens). As the aliens begin randomly destroying places, the Navy attempt to stop them.

For saying this is Rihanna’s first acting gig in a big blockbuster, she doesn’t do bad. There have certainly been a lot worse performances from pop stars who try their hand at acting, and performs pretty well. The effects all look good, and the film moves at a good pace for its 2 hours and change. There is also a funny reference to the boardgame, as they find themselves playing a version of the game with their actual ships whilst trying to sink the alien battleship using wave-displacement.

The film opens with Hopper trying to impress the Admiral’s daughter by getting her a Chicken Burrito. In order to do this he breaks into a convenience store via the roof in what appears to be a recreation of a classic youtube clip where someone broke in via the roof and then found themselves stuck inside. All this is to the ‘Pink Panther’ theme tune, which feels oddly out of place in the film. Once Hopper’s brother persuades him to join the Navy to get his life on track, the film takes some fairly predictable paths, from Hopper being an insubordinate washout, to the (spoiler alert) inevitable death of his brother.

We’re also treated to the aliens’ vision through point-of-view shots that make you think you’re watching Transformers again. The aliens don’t seem to attack if they’re not threatened (so if no gun is trained on them, the object in their field of view shows as green for safe, then red for danger if they feel threatened. This is a ridiculous element of the film, as they have no trouble destroying a busy freeway later in the film filled with innocent people.

It is not as crude as the Transformers movies, and merely hints at four-letter F-words rather than saying them. We also have a hot Megan Fox stand-in with the stunning Brooklyn Decker as the love interest (who easily out-acts Transformers 3′s Megan Fox replacement Rose Huntington-Whiteley). Also, the aliens haven’t been “learning our language through the World Wide Web”, so don’t speak all hip-hop like the Autobots (which is in this film’s favour).

However…

Firstly, this film is dumb. From the basic ‘science is evil, gun-toting army guys are good’ stance the film adopts early on, to the ridiculous dialogue. These ships have travelled the vast distance of space to land in our oceans, yet towards the end of the film when the big ship generating the forcefield suddenly appears near their Navy vessel, one character actually says “I didn’t think that one moved”. How did he think it got there in the first place?

Secondly, this film is US Navy propaganda. From the body-beautiful look of the Navy’s leading players, to the slow-mo hero shots of the retired Navy officers serving their country once more, proving that the Navy is such a good place to work and inspires such fierce devotion and loyalty that even the old and maimed will return to the line of fire to defend the good old U.S.of A. The AC/DC Thunderstruck playing loudly as the retired crew fire up the decommissioned Missouri to take on the aliens (which despite being an out-of-service museum piece still has a compliment of weapons and live ammo to fire at the enemy). Even in the field exercises at the beginning, the shots of the ships in the water to an accompanying AC/DC soundtrack are all there to glorify the US Navy.

And thirdly, the strong message is that all science is pure evil, and that only the physically strong can save the day. In fact the film is so strong in its message of physical superiority that you could almost feel you were watching a Nazi party promotional film about the Supermen and the Giants. The scientists are responsible for nearly bringing about the Earth’s destruction by sending a message to Planet G telling any possible life there that we are here.

Forgetting for a moment that any signal from Earth would take a phenomenally long time to reach our closest star, let alone an exo-planet whether the signal is five-times stronger or not, these aliens are much more technologically advanced than we are, so if they were looking for other worlds to strip-mine its resources, then surely they’d have been looking and found us by themselves already.

This is a big dumb blockbuster. Scoop your brain out and leave it outside the screen as you won’t be needing it for this film. It’s enjoyable enough if you don’t care about character, plotting, the science making sense, or plausibility. It’s fun if you don’t read too much in to it.