2012-05-18

Battleship – Almost As Much Fun As The Game

by Yo Snyder

Big. Dumb. Loud. If that’s the impression you get of Battleship
from the trailers, well, you’re not far off. It is all of those things,
but in the midst of all that, it also manages to be kind of fun. It’s
not as fun as it could have been, but it’s certainly not the disaster
many may expect it to be. It’s a popcorn flick; one where you go, turn
off your brain, and just enjoy the ride. Of course with today’s movie
prices, it’s probably better to wait until this one hits the dollar
theater.

While it may seem inconceivable to make a movie out of a board game,
let me remind you that Disney was fairly successful with doing the same
thing with a park ride. Of course, even that had more of a narrative
structure than the classic Battleship board game. Still, someone found a
way by blending the game with Transformers, Top Gun and Independence Day.
It’s a successful and fun mash-up for the most part, and the film does
pay homage to its board game inspiration. That part, however, I couldn’t
decide if it was clever or cheesy. Stretching my suspension of
disbelief to the absolute max, the scene in question wasn’t a bad way to
do a shout-out to the game, but there are times where the execution,
though taken very seriously, just feels almost a little too silly and
cheesy.

Actually, that’s one of the main problems with this movie; it takes
itself too seriously. Even when it’s trying to be funny, it is trying
very seriously to be funny (if that makes sense). It’s obvious Peter
Berg was trying to go for a certain, snarky kind of tone with some of
the banter, but too much of it feels forced and just generally tries too
hard. The other problem is it spends too much time out of the water.
The movie is called Battleship, but a requisite of any movie
today trying to appeal to a wide audience is to have some sort of “love
interest”, and so here we have Brooklyn Deker to play the object of
Taylor Kitsch’s affections. This is pretty much all she doesThat’s all fine and good, but she doesn’t
really have anything to do. None of the people on land do. They just
look concern and help provide some convenient ways to get the plot to
its next key point, but most of the time I just wanted to get back to
what this movie is titled for; a game of war between maritime forces
(even if one of those happen to be aliens). Then again, Liam Neeson has
about the least to do out of anyone, and he’s probably laughing all the
way to the bank over his free trip to Hawaii to growl out a few lines.
Oh, Rhianna’s in it to, but that’s the thing; there are people in it and
they all do fine for the most part, but these aren’t deep characters
and therefore don’t demand much from the people portraying them. Again,
the movie tries to take its characters seriously, but again it does so
almost too much. The entire intro to the film could have been cut way
shorter, especially considering most of the characters introduced during
that time either aren’t around much or just kind of stand around the
rest of the movie.

Truthfully, most of the writing for this movie is pretty bad, (“They’ll never sink this
battleship!”Ah, see what they did there? Clever right? Yeah, not so
much) but there was one cheesy line that I thought was rather profound.
“We’re all going to die.” says one character to lighten a dire moment.
Kitsch’s character responds in a quippy manner,  “Yes we are. We’re all
going to die. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. Everyone’s going to
die…but not today.” Even though it was supposed to be one of those
seriously funny and awesome action movie quips, I thought there was a
lot of insight in that line because it’s true; we all are going
to die. The mortality rate for the human race is 100%. Every single
person born will die; no exceptions. Well, actually there was one
exception. There was this guy Jesus who live a little over two thousand
years ago. He stirred up some trouble by claiming to be God, and that
trouble eventually led to him getting killed.

Funny thing is, he didn’t stay dead. Three days later his tomb was
found empty and hundreds of witnesses saw him alive. So what does that
have to do with the rest of us who are all destined to die? Well, that
guy Jesus provides the answer for “What are you going to do about the
fact that you will die?” You see, Jesus’ resurrection broke the grip of
death. We will still die, but like Jesus, we don’t have to stay dead if
we don’t want to. It’s not reincarnation, waiting in purgatory, or a
happy place everyone ends up like some sort of Nirvana; this is real
life, the life we were intended to experience but had spoiled because of
sin. When we choose to accept that who Jesus was and what he said are
true, suddenly the fact that we’re all going to die isn’t quite as
daunting of a proposition.

As for Battleship, I honestly don’t think the movie has a
enough steam (see what I did there? Yeah, about as bad as some of the
quips in the film) to take on The Avengers. This movie is big and
loud, but almost desperately so. There were times where the movie was
so loud I just wanted to encourage to settle down; it was like a
hyper-active child trying to get some attention “Look at me, look at me,
look at me.” I wanted to say, “I’m already here and I am looking at
you, stop yelling at me.” Yet in spite of its flaws, I mostly had a good
time. I’m sucker for anything that makes the military look cool, and
when the focus is on the ships, the movie’s pretty cool. There’s a great
and fun tribute to our vets, and lots of cool montages of cool military
stuff to cool rock music. As you can see, this movie really wants to be
very, very cool. And at times it is, at times it’s even fun, but other
times it just seems so desperate and needy. Like I said, it’s an overall
enjoyable piece of summer fluff, but one probably best left to enjoying
at the dollar theater. Oh, it also has a brief little Easter egg scene
at the end of the credits that reminded me a lot of the Godzilla remake. After you see it, let me know what you think and I’ll explain what I mean by that.

Score: 4 of 7