Battleship Review: Putting the Bro in Hasbro
Transformers and GI Joe are terrible fucking movies. Shut up. Stop with your “No, they’re fun, I don’t want to think, popcorn movies” bullshit fucking arguments. They are terrible fucking movies. And they have probably made a profit of a trillion billion dollars, or whatever astronomical made-up number the next Bond villain will ransom the world for — something so huge it makes James Bond sad enough to drink Heineken. As long as something made of metal goes kablooey, idiots will line up and salivate. Axe Body Spray and TAPOUT will drench the aggro masses, Maxim Magazine will be stained with chicken wing grease from Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings, and stuff will go boom. Hasbro has bro formula down fucking pat, and these films are as shoddily assembled as the crappy plastic toys they hock. Big metal aliens in big metal ships attack one of the American Armed Forces, and it’s up to a general force of one extremely hot chick, an ethnic, and a clean-cut all-American to save the world. People almost say fuck, things explode, and America wins. So out plops Battleship. If you loved Transformers, congratulations, you’ll probably fucking enjoy this too, because it’s basically Bathtub Transformers. Only it’s seventeen hours long and takes too fucking long between giant explosions. Director Peter Berg doesn’t overcomplicate things so much as use too many words to just say BOOM. You don’t have to say you want “two all-beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.” Just say Big Mac. We understand.
I would love to trash Battleship as big dumb explodey nonsense, but there’s not even that many explosions. It’s certainly loud. And phenomenally dumb. But there’s a disappointing number of booms in a film that dares to stretch 131 minutes long. The Navy kind of got the shit end of the stick by using Battleship as their commercial. I can’t remember if it was the Army or the Marines who got Transformers. I only hope the Air Force does a better job when they do Jenga. Which will probably be about giant metal blocks that fall out of the sky around major cities and can only be knocked down through a combination of faux science and, I don’t know, let’s say, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley taking off her top. The best film about naval cat and mouse has already been made, and it was called The Hunt for Red October and it was fucking awesome. But it makes sense that Taylor Kitsch is in this terrible film, because he is this generation’s Sean Connery when it comes to choosing his roles.
Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard are the Hopper brothers, Alex and Stone respectively. Alex Hopper is a ne’er-do-well who tries to win the affections of Sam (Brooklyn Decker) by drunkenly breaking into a convenience store to steal her a microwavable chicken burrito, only to be arrested and tased, bro. Stone gets pissed because he’s a Navy commander and Sam’s the daughter of his Admiral, Liam Neeson. So the only way to fix this whole situation is for Alex to join the Navy. Narrative structure be damned, five seconds later, perennial screw up Alex is making out with Sam and talking about asking her father for her hand in marriage, and oh yeah, now he’s also in the Navy. Despite being a total fucking boner, Alex is ranked apparently two below the commanding officer and one other guy. Do you follow so far? If not, don’t worry, something’s going to explode in a half an hour or so.
So the American Navy’s holding the RIMPAC exercises which involve fake wargames with the Japanese Navy. While that’s going on, scientists from NASA (miss!) have been shooting broadcasts at Planet-G, which is similar to Earth in that it’s close to the sun in its galaxy and blah blah astronomy oh shit aliens. Similar to the game of Battleship much of the narrative structure is comprised of huge gaping spaces with occasionally tightly packed and overly dense plot chunks that don’t really matter unless you hit them. The aliens send a team of five ships, one of which crashes on entry and takes out some buildings in Hong Kong. That’s mostly so they have the requisite shot of a skyscraper collapsing for the trailer. Other than that, the aliens land in the water off of Hawaii. Alex Hopper sails out in a speedboat and touches one of the spaceships and they shoot up a giant electric bubble of some kind that no satellite transmissions can get through. It traps three of the ships in with their other three ships, which look like huge armor plated versions of the spider in Wild Wild West. Then there’s a bunch of explosions. There’s no real explanation for what the aliens are or why they are here. They wear Halo armor, except when you take off their face plates and they look like a fishhead version of the lead singer of The Spin Doctors. They all have weird Swiss army fists and are apparently allergic to sunlight. The alien “battleships” fire large projectiles shaped like the pegs from the board game that explode like a motherfuh. (Being a PG-13 movie, most of the hip actiony catchphrases involve someone yelling something something motherfuh before blowing something up.) The big com tower that shoots the electromagnetic pulse shield thing can also launch weird electric shaver shaped aircrafts and the next big summer toy that’ll be broken and discarded by next school year - the chainsaw balls. These are some sort of sentient tank projectiles that make that synthesizer harmonica Michael Bay sound and go churning around striking at important targets like a military base or a little league game?
Are you confused? So am I. If you stop to even think for one second about what’s going on, you’re going to give yourself a nosebleed with all the inconsistencies and logic flaws. The problem is there’s not nearly enough actual combat to distract you, so I guess what I’m saying is, bring tissues. For example, the aliens set up a huge electromagnetic sphere which contains their battle force, plus the three ships. Airplanes trying to penetrate it explode on contact. But the aliens have no problems sending their electric shavers and chainsaw balls through. However, it’s just an electromagnetic pulse according to Hamish Linklater, who plays Glasses Nerd. He’s an odd cross between Jeff Goldblum and Tom Green. That’s why he’s able to use some kind of suitcase phone to send a communication to the ship for five minutes. That’s not nearly as implausible as the fact that Glasses Nerd, Brooklyn Decker’s physical therapist Sam, and a former Navy officer who has two prosthetic legs - played by actual veteran and double amputee Gregory D. Gadson are tasked with taking out the entire communications array of the aliens. They keep, and I just, GODDAMMIT. There goes my nose again.
Peter Berg is kind of gridlocked by the script penned by the Brothers Hoeber, the gents who brought us such gems as RED and Whiteout. In keeping with the color scheme, Battleship fucking blue. It’s basically Transformers sans the whimsy of Shia LeBoeuf. Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard take turns trying to be Christian Bale, and fail utterly. Rihanna manages just barely to eke out Cobie Smulders in the “Who The Fuck Thought I Could Pull Off Military?” It’s not that she does a particularly bad job, it’s just that she’s part of the gaggle of secondary boat folk along with Fatter The Rock (John Tui) and Encephalitic Matt Damon (Jesse Plemons), that exist mainly to give Taylor Kitsch a chance to not be Channing Tatum. There’s a particularly cruel God who allows Chris Brown’s Think Like a Man to top box offices while this film crashes and burns and sinks and explodes. Brooklyn Decker sure looks good in bikinis and shorts. She exists pretty much to prove that eye candy also has a blonde flavor. It’s painfully obvious that Gadson’s not really an actor, but the dude lost both his legs keeping my ass safe on this soil, so if he wants to be in a shitty movie, hoo-fucking-rah. There are other actors in the film, like Liam Neeson and Peter MacNicol, but they have so little to do, it’s better to not mention them. To be perfectly honest, the dialogue is so wooden and the plot so riddled with gaps and problems, nobody was going to make this work.
But again, it doesn’t fucking matter. I’ve given you the full experience of watching Battleship. I’ve rambled overlong and terribly over the three or four actually funny lines in my review. If you still feel like you need a closer approximation, sit inside a old rusty pickup during a winter thunderstorm, crank AC/DC and have your friend throw rocks at you. Because you deserve to have rocks thrown at you if you want to see this piece of shit. If you crave big explosions, just watch the fucking Avengers again. I’m hoping the meatheads who crave the big shiny booms get let down by this gobbledygook and it goes to the watery depths of the Drowned God.
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