When you consider the fact that the sci-fi movie, Battleship, was based on the popular naval board game by Hasbro, you’d be forgiven for assuming it doesn’t stay afloat for very long. But while the film on the whole isn’t perfect, it is fairly entertaining thanks to its pulsating CGI action scenes. These sequences, featuring some breathtaking maritime battles, are clearly where the majority of the film’s reportedly huge $200 million budget was spent, rather than towards developing a plausible narrative.
The film starts in 2005, when US space agency Nasa discovers another Earth like planet, to where it transmits a communication signal, in hopes of contacting intelligent life — because clearly there is little evidence of it on Earth in the film. At this time, the film introduces us to Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a womanising slacker, who gets into trouble with the law after going overboard in his attempt to impress a woman he meets at a bar, named Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker). Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård), Alex’s older brother, is a commanding officer on a US naval ship who decides to try and set his younger sibling straight by enlisting him in the navy. As it turns out, the woman Alex desires is the daughter of Pacific Fleet commanding officer, Vice Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson).
Things then flash forward to 2012, by which time Alex is a lieutenant, and now in a steady relationship with Samantha, struggling to find the courage to ask her father if he can marry her. Alex, while recognised to have extraordinary potential, is unable to avoid trouble, and gets into a brawl with the visiting commanding officer of a Japanese naval destroyer, Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), with whom he is later forced by circumstances into an interesting working relationship. And after our hero is on the verge of being let go from the navy, five hostile maritime alien ships arrive to Earth, responding to the signal sent from 2005. From here Alex leads the battle against the aliens on the sea alongside Nagata, as well as his crew which includes Officer Cora Raikes, played convincingly by the pop star beauty, Rihanna.
Meanwhile on land, the resistance is championed by Samantha, a cowardly Nasa scientist with same great lines, played by Hamish Linklater, and the most interesting character of the film, Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadson), a grumpy yet courageous combat veteran who happens to be a double amputee, and struggling to find belief in what remains of his hulking strength.
Battleship suffers from some silly dialog, as well as a load of pseudoscience in its plot. For example, it doesn’t make much sense how NASA sent a signal to a planet light years away in 2005, only to have a response in the shape of an alien visit only seven years later, when the process should have taken a few lifetimes. Also, the scientist quotes diluted versions of theories by Stephen Hawking, which adds to the silliness. But, the film is less concerned with reason and more with entertainment, which it does very well. Overall, Battleship is a charming romp with its endearing characters and 1980s rock tracks that are great backing tracks for some good old fashioned alien butt kicking, leaving you the viewer, to pump your fist for humanity.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine. April 29th, 2012.
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