Congratulations, everyone, the summer blockbuster season is open. With the record beating The Avengers and the upcoming (much anticipated) Men in Black III, the season of loud, somewhat funny, somewhat idiotic macho movies is officially open. One can say Safe was the official opener, abound with unrealistic kicks, jumps and falls that defy physics and all other sciences put together. And now here comes Battleship, an alien invasion Transformers-lookalike brainless ‘guy movie’. The twist? It’s based on a board game (that calls to at least some intellectual activity) and director Peter Berg consulted The Science & Entertainment Exchange. Also, Rihanna is in it. Briefly.
Why everyone calls all of the above pictures guy movies is beyond me. Many a (male) critic have written feverishly how female viewers are simply neglected in the modern movie summer scene as if by doing so they are doing us females a favour. The whole notion of a guy or girl movie seems absurd to me (I am checking my watch, yes, it is the 21 Century). What should I be looking forward to as a single 30-year-old artsy type with a kid? Bridget-fucking-Jones? Oh. I know. What To Expect When You Are Expecting! Cuz the last time Jennifer Lopez tried to sell me that type of shit in The Back-Up Plan I nearly walked out. Maybe I simply have a dick somewhere that I haven’t discovered yet. Nevertheless, I will argue till my last breath stupid actioners are not guy movies. They are treadmill movies. Battleship is a perfect example.
In 2005 scientists transmit a message to a planet that resembles Earth from a communication den in Hawaii where NASA nerds look and smell nerdy. In 2012 in a crowded bar Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) listens to a boring lecture by his older brother commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) about the virtues of doing something useful, like getting a job or serving in the Navy. Alex is easily distracted by some serious cleavage and impressive derriere on Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) who wants a chicken burrito asap (the kitchen is closed) so Alex does the first feat of the movie (breaks into a store, gets electrocuted by the police but manages to deliver the popular Mexican dish to Samantha).
This proves to be enough for the busty chick not only to date Alex but also to push him incessantly into the iron chest of her doting Daddy Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) and finally bleat out a request for his daughter’s hand in marriage. By this time Alex is already in the Navy but always late, awkward, chewing gum, or wearing an inappropriate piece of clothing – not exactly Navy Admiral daughter marriage material. That’s all about to change when the aliens arrive and Alex kicks some major ass when everyone else sinks in their own adrenaline.
Why do aliens invade? So Alex can marry Samantha after he shows how cool he really is, duh. This is a classic tale of the noble dissent from loserhood to herohood with a general grand prise – the pretty young bride. The aliens come in five massive ships but many more are coming if they manage to transmit a message back to their fellow brethren about humans being completely useless and their transportation means (cars, ships, planes, helicopters, etc) easily perishable with the help of peculiar tumbleweed destroyers with snaky tails that tear through everything metal and moving while stopping at a detection of a beating heart (in a memorable scene it stops right in front of a cute little boy playing baseball, only to turn around and go destroy the base of a bridge with neat rows of cars on it).
Anyone who has seen the Battleship trailer will know what the ships and even the aliens look like. The rest is constant action and the movie reeks of last year’s 2012. The aliens destroy two ships (and kill big brother Stone) but Alex saves the remaining survivors. One of them happens to be Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) who helps track alien ships by detecting the position of tsunami warning buoys. There is a brief encounter with an alien that’s a great chance for Rihanna (she plays Cora Reikes, a weapons specialist) to show off her enviable forms.
Battleship is a perfect treadmill movie because sci-fi engenders uncontrollable jerks and swift movements of the limbs naturally. It’s also a war movie (well, kind of) because there are aliens and there are humans; both need to annihilate each other. Battleship also features Rihanna (who isn’t hopeless at all) who flaunts her lean long limbs lipping out genius lines like ‘Boom’ – a perfect example of what a treadmill devotee in her prime looks like.
Aliens are scary enough to make you bike faster (in case you need to outrun one of those extraterrestrial creatures). Navy officers jumping around in their cute uniforms are further incentive to peddle harder. Most of them drown because, hey, the alien ships squash American vessels with one sprinkle of flashy laser beams – this makes you, the treadmill warrior, believe in yourself much more. After all, they are all dead and you are still cycling away…
Treadmill movies should not be too scary or too smart. Battleship is neither. The aliens here are super sensitive to light – just flash a light bulb into their eyes and they are defeated (I wish zombies had such an Achilles’ heel). It has a few laughs but not enough to send you off the moving belt dangerously on the floor.
Director Peter Berg tried to emulate the board game by making the alien missiles shaped like pegs, grids forming by buoys resembling the layout of the game and the sailors using hit or miss guessing to find and destroy alien ships. That’s where the intellectualism runs out.
The cock rock score by Steve Jablonsky (famous for the Transformers franchise) that many have complained about is perfect for a hard core workout. The post credit scene suggests there will be a sequel so you can finally try out those kicks imagining smashing your foot into the green-yellow-grey face of an alien. The budget of Battleship was 200 million dollars but it has already made a profit even before the American opening. Why? Because people love treadmill movies. Even if they don’t know they are watching a treadmill movie.
Home vs Theatre
Battleship was released in the UK a million years ago (April 11, 2012) for some enigmatic reason, and the movie’s stars, including Rihanna, have gone on to speak out against downloading it on the evil pirate sites and urged the public to see it in the theatre.
Here is my view of things: Battleship is a treadmill movie. Once they have exercise equipment in the theatre (they will one day, believe you me), you can watch it there. For now, download, download, download. Otherwise, studios will keep conveyor-belting these dumb money makers until eternity. (Men in Black III, fingers crossed.)
P.S. This article is not sponsored by any online piracy websites. No movie director, actor or makeup artist suffered financial losses during the writing of this review. Peace.