‘Battleship‘: that‘s Hollywood entertainment!
By Kwaak Je-yup
Some movies are so bad they can end up being a lot of fun.
“Battleship,” released this past weekend in Korea and other key international markets before the United States (which will have its opening in May), falls into this distinguished category. And the record audience numbers here show that at least for the sake of entertainment ― and ticket sales ― there is nothing wrong with that.
The Universal Pictures’ $200-million film by actor-turned-director Peter Berg (“Hancock," 2008, and “Friday Night Lights," 2004, among others) is for fans of toys, guns, naval ships, explosions and the feel-good version of America portrayed by Hollywood with no concerns for logic or nuance.
There is much pleasure in giving in to the brainless fun of this action film, aided by the state-of-the-art visual and audio special effects. Sometimes it is OK to become a child again and feel exhilarated by the expensive naval fleet and enemy alien forces blowing up on screen. After all, this is a film inspired by a board game of the same name and sponsored by its maker Hasbro.
It all begins in Hawaii with Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), who is jobless and seemingly good for nothing. He is pushed by his older brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) to join him in the navy. In the meantime, scientists at NASA have discovered a faraway solar system ― and an inhabitable planet ― similar to our own and start sending a signal with hopes of getting a friendly response. Things go awry when they attack Earth instead, landing close to the world’s largest international maritime exercise RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise) that is underway. The destiny of the human race hinges upon the Hopper brothers and other participating sailors.
Dissecting this movie is pointless because all of its poor elements can and should be ignored in favor of the overall entertainment value.
Never mind the actors; they are not the main attraction. Some of the acting is just comical across the board, with the notable exception of the great Liam Neeson, who plays Admiral Shane, the brothers’ commander and father to Alex’s girlfriend Samantha (Brooklyn Decker in her thankless role).
Stone’s angry boot camp leader-like speech to his brother and the latter’s supposedly heroic emotions are some of the least convincing moments of this two-plus-hour affair.
Rihanna, the multiple Grammy winner and one of the most popular pop singers today, makes her acting debut as Petty Officer Raikes but is most of the time reduced to one-word lines, like “boom!” She seems to have a good time, though, shooting missiles at Transformer-like alien ships.
During those combustions, the realistic CGI is mouthwatering, especially compared to the abysmal offerings in locally-produced films. Just about everything else seems to be difficult to believe, with inaccuracies everywhere.
Why do the Arleigh Burke class destroyers use lightweight guns towards the bow, for example, against the clearly more powerful alien behemoths when they have piles of better armaments on board? (Hopper only ends up digging deeper into the arsenal later in the film.) Also, how are we to believe that those Transformer-like seaplanes have such weak glass that will break by even machine guns from half a mile away? Why are these foreign species, infinitely more technologically advanced than humans, susceptible to sunlight when they have a sun of their own? Have they skipped some steps of evolution on that planet?
But once again, learn to ignore these inconsistencies and enjoy the costly special effects and Liam Neeson’s brilliant American accent.
Currently in theaters. Runs 131 minutes. Rated 12 and over. Distributed by Universal Pictures International Korea.