Everyone and their mother scratched their heads when it was announced that a movie was being made based on the game Battleship. The revelation that the antagonists were aliens was met with similar perplexity. Battleship certainly is as ridiculously moronic as everyone expected; however, the aliens are the one thing the makers of the film did right.
Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a lost cause. Living on his brother’s couch, he has no job and no ambitions other than chasing women. When his recent attempt to woo a girl ends in an arrest, Hopper is forced by his brother to join the Navy in the hopes that it will put him on the right track. Years later, during the Navy’s RIMPAC meeting (a multinational Navy games and exercises event), the Earth is visited by some not-so-friendly foes who are “responding” to a deep space message that was recently sent out. The aliens land in the exact spot the message was sent from, which happens to be the exact spot of the RIMPAC games. Shooting from the hip, it’s all up to Alex Hopper to save the world.
A colossal blunder of epic proportions, Battleship has one of the shakiest scripts in recent history. There are so many issues with the characters and story, it’s hard to find a place to start. Hopper is meant to be the fuck-up-turned-hero, yet even when he does the right thing, he’s still the same pathetic loser he was at the beginning. His growth is superficial, and his character is weak and sad. There’s no way he would be allowed as many chances as he got from his love interest, his brother, and the Navy. But somehow, the movie persists.
Every moment of Battleship is an odd contradiction. The invading forces seem only to attack when attacked. They have a nifty Terminator-like interface that shows you how they determine whether something is a threat. So when one of their destructive chain-ball weapons is face-to-face with a little kid, it determines the child is not a threat and leaves him alone. It then proceeds to take out the supporting beams of a massive highway, effectively killing more people and kids that we were just shown to be on that highway. I understand it’s supposed to be a military tactic — taking out roadways, making it hard for people to maneuver around — but did the aliens forget they were on an island that they already isolated with a massive force field? No other military force was dispatched — was all of this necessary?
For such a technologically- and seemingly tactically-aware culture, these space marauders seem to be severely lacking in intelligence. When the movie actually rolls out the classic Battlefield grid (laughably so), it’s because in the dark of night, neither side can see each other. These freaking things have visors that judge a person’s threat level based on their heart rate and pupil dilation, but they can’t see in the dark? There’s a whole subplot that the aliens are adverse to sunlight — don’t tell me they can’t see in the dark.
With an abundance of laugh-inducing moments, it’s the design of these distant visitors that works. Yes, their actions and methods are flawed beyond belief, but their look and feel as they stroll around our world is eerily impressive. They emit a vibe of slick bad-assery that can’t be denied. It’s an aura that would have been better suited for a truly dark, sci-fi adventure — not a corny, Michael Bay-styled action film. They’re the only thing worth your time in Battleship, and you can wait till they hit HBO to experience the full effect.