After the “necessary” plot details are thrown into play (something about US officials shooting lasers into space to ignite the curiosities of would-be alien life forms) Peter Berg’s Battleship briefly divulges into some amusing character development.
Soon after we meet the Hopper brothers – the older, wiser, Navy man, Stone (because people are really named Stone), and the younger screw-up, Alex – Alex decides to break into a convenience store. Basically, what carries out is a send-up of my favorite viral video of all time. American blockbusters are always trying to be hip and relate to its young audience via the latest pop culture references (remember the "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" bit from X-Men: The Last Stand?). We see it all the time, but I’ve never seen it done this refreshingly.
Everything consequential to that scene is a standard aliens-invade-Earth summer popcorn shitshow. Stone (Alexander Skarsgård) demands that Alex (Taylor Kitsch) join the Navy, which he does, and is soon on the chopping block for fighting.
Right as Alex is nearly ordered off the ship, aliens plummet into the ocean just off the coast of Hawaii. They impose, they attack, and by the end of the first major action scene, Alex is somehow the commander of the only remaining ship. (Oh the marvel of disregarding so many ridiculous plot coincidences.)
You know how the show goes: the good guys fight the bad beings, useless subplots are frequently cut to, old white men in military garb argue in far away war rooms, shit blows up, humor is attempted, and failed, and so on.
Look, I dig Peter Berg. His Friday Night Lights is not only one of the best football films ever made, it’s one of the best high school flicks, too. And the show he spun off of that film is one of the finest programs to ever air on television. The guy has talent, but Hancock and now Battleship make clear that he’s only interested in using that talent for financial gain. Fair enough, as long as he knows that with hyperbolic paychecks often comes critical castration.
|Yes, this is an actual still from the movie|
Battleship is being compared most to Michael Bay’s absurd Transformers films. That’s unfair. Battleship is much more fun than Bay’s colossal headaches. There’s an oddly nostalgic scene in Berg’s film that directly references the board game it is based on. It should also be noted that Taylor Kitsch’s Alex is a more grown up version of his Friday Night Lights character, Tim Riggins, which I am perfectly okay with, seeing as how Tim Riggins is an iconic badass. Another shout out goes to Jesse Plemons, who made Landry one of the best characters in Friday Night Lights. It’s good to see Plemons and Kitsch back in the mix, I just wish it was in a different context. C-
Note: for something far more entertaining (and far less time consuming) than Berg’s film, check out this recent interview: