This week sees the continuation of the guilt ridden purge of questionable cinematic outings by yours truly in an attempt to enlighten and embarrass equally – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! For those who are old school board game junkies like me, the guilty pleasure selection below won’t come as a complete shock. (For the rest of you I feel your crappy movie pitchforks at the ready!) Combining the basic elements of an old Hasbro game in some creative and clever ways and matching it with some stylish direction, kick ass music and a little alien invasion scenario to boot, this is one big budget flop that I simply (and previously silently!) adore. Place your ships, grab your pegs and get ready to hit or miss with my shameful fav…Battleship!
Alex Hopper is a f@ck up. A young man with intelligence, tenacity, spirit and a ton of potential, Alex nevertheless ends up disappointing those around him including his no-nonsense older brother and Naval Officer Stone. So being the ever protective sibling, Stone decides to step in and help his little brother – and signs Alex up for the U.S. Navy. Elsewhere in the world scientists have discovered a planet with conditions very close to Earth and decide build a device to make possible contact – and they get a distinctively hostile alien response.
While there are many more small stories within the framework for Battleship (not unlike the scattered cluster tales in the Transfomers films!), the above gives you the skinny of what’s happening and what’s to come. Let’s face it – dissecting emotional and powerful character conflicts is not what’s at the heart of Battleship. The film is constructed from the point of view of getting in as many of the board game tropes as possible (ships pitted against other ships!) and then filling out the rest with likeable human bits and on that surface level is where the film flies high. Working in everything from Battleship player pegs (the outer space baddies use these to embed and explode the US Destroyers!) to the grid like ship construction zone (a scene where our heroes play a real life game of hit and miss with the enemy under the guise of looking for “patterns of water displacement – only in the movies!), writers Jon and Erich Hoeber make a sincere effort to keep Battleship fans happy or bust. Not to mention the duo also throws in everything from quirky side characters for humor (Jesse Plemons is the resident goofball!) and neurotic glee (Hamish Linklater makes a perfect worry wart!) to big budget staples (Alien Invasion anyone?!) to keep this one chocked with enough movie meat to choke even the hungriest cinefile.
But the true cheddar movie genius of Battleship has to be the super savvy staging by Director Peter “Shocker” Berg. Taking all the style he previously showed in flicks like Hancock and especially The Rundown, Berg utilizes all the visual eye candy in his sweet cinema arsenal to make Battleship significantly more savory than it should be. From his uncanny ability to put the audience right in the heart of the action (items fly right by the leads in slow motion – and into our faces!) to his pitch perfect selection of the right piece of music at just the right time eliciting humor (he plays The Pink Panther theme over lead man Taylor Kitsch drunkenly breaking into a store!) and kiss ass badness (see the ‘getting the old ship ready for battle’ montage set to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck!), Berg just makes Battleship fun.
Look, this broken for some B-movie version of a Michael Bay outing may have an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach in terms of being an entertaining summer movie style spectacle piece (not to mention some of the most inane dialogue ever spoken on screen!), but the joy it brings (at least to me!) far outweighs any and all obvious glaring shortcomings. Way more enjoyable than it should be and far too much fun to dismiss as mere film fluff, Berg and company may have created the most dynamic unoriginal movie to date. In the game of hit and miss via satisfying ship sinking cinema, Battleship, according to yours truly, is a definitive hit.