Battleship

So Inspired by the long-time popular board game by Hasbro, Battleship is directed by Peter Berg who also co-produced the movie. The film stars Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, John Tui, Brooklyn Decker, and Tadanobu Asano and released by Universal Pictures. I cannot say just how much I was looking forward to the movie when it was first announced but the reviews – both written as well as the ones I watch on Youtube – weren’t very promising and my hopes were dashed. I’ve never played Battleship, infact my only awareness of it is from the Tintin comic book Flight 714 in which Captain Haddock plays the game while on a flight with a cheating billionaire. Released in April, 2012 the movie has made around $304 mil.; a decent enough amount for most. However considering it’s $209 mil budget, the industry would consider the returns as quite disappointing.

The storyline is about another alien invasion film with extremely advanced alien villains, who came to earth after we broadcasted a  powerful signal from a communications array in Hawaii to a recently discovered exo-planet called Planet G by NASA and thought to have similar conditions to that of earth. That was in 2005 and now in 2012 they have reached earth. Here’s what I don’t like about the recent spate of these alien invasion movies featuring almost mechanical & one-dimensional aliens, who don’t get any character development or even lines to speak and their whole motivation for invading us seems to be just because we’re an alien race to them. Why do they do that? We can’t talk to them, communication attempts aren’t even done and it’s just a story of David vs Goliath. And ofcourse in most cases we win! Rather than a military and/or Air Force against the aliens, this time it’s the US Navy and with some help from the Japanese and one character who is a living poster for injured veterans, an Army veteran who’s legs were blown off while in combat. And ofcourse(!!!) the aliens are no match for match for an American vet with prosthetic legs and an attitude that could melt the hull of their ships!!!

In 2005 our hero, Alex Hopper, is a slacker who messes up everything he has ever been doing and loving rebuked by his older, more responsible Navy officer brother who sees the capabilities in him. On his birthday a drunk Alex offers to buy a chicken burrito for the object of his affections and breaks into a closed supermarket and is caught by the cops. His brother gets him into the navy where he hopes the discipline and rigors will shape him up into a better & responsible man. The girl, Samantha, just so happens to be the daughter of Admiral Shane, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Coincidence? I think not! So fast forward to 2012 and Alex’s ship joins the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) in Hawaii. His brother Stone Hopper is commanding officer of another ship in the exercise overseen by Admiral Shane. Hopper is in a rivalry with some of the Japanese sailors, especially Captain Nagata, Commanding Officer of a Japanese vessel. Alex is in a relationship with Samantha and dangerously close to being kicked off the Navy for his negligence, tardiness and when he gets into a fight with Nagata, he is told that post the exercise he will be discharged. This is when the aliens attack; 5 alien ships approach earth and their communications ship crashes in Hong Kong, causing heavy damage and casualties there, while four others land in the water near Hawaii. A huge mothership creates a force field, trapping the three warships. The aliens destroy the Samson, killing several sailors & commander Stone Hopper and the Japanese ship Myoko. The John Paul Jones is damaged killing it’s captain and several others. This leaves Hopper, as the highest ranking remaining officer in command of the ship, much to his reluctant and the disbelief of the others.

Some of the aliens on the other ships have taken control of the communications array in Oahu, Hawaii. Samantha, a physical therapist, just happens to be accompanying the retired U.S. Army veteran and double amputee Mick Canales on a hike to help him adapt to his prosthetic legs quite near the array and they see the aliens in action. And they just happen to run into scientist Cal Zapata who informs them that the aliens are using the array to signal back to their home planet. He retrieves a radio that will allow Sam and Mick to contact the John Paul Jones and relay this information. Meanwhile Hopper & his men rescue the Japanese sailors who survived their ship being blown away, from the water and confer with Nagata. Nagata suggests using NOAA’stsunami warning buoys around Hawaii to track the aliens and as night falls the John Paul Jones opens fire and destroys two of the alien ships. After capturing one of the aliens they find out that the aliens are sensitive to sunlight, and decides to lure the third alien vessel close to shore, where they shoot out its bridge windows as the sunrise blinds the aliens. In the ensuing battle, both ships are destroyed. The humans reach the shores and needing a new ship, they acquire the only remaining naval vessel, USS Missouri, which had been decommissioned and turned into a museum. With the help of retired old officers, the crew get the old battleship ready and go after the mother ship. Apparently the highly technologically advanced aliens are no match for old navy vets and rock music – specifically AC/DC!

he battleship evades the mothership’s gunfire and destroys the force field and the ship’s turrets. Alex uses the last shell to destroy the communications array on the island, leaving the Missouri defenseless. Just as the alien mothership is about to destroy the battleship, jet fighters from the RIMPAC fleet arrive and save the crew by destroying the weapons fired from the vessel’s last turret with the forcefield being down. The aliens are destroyed by the combined efforts of the naval forces. At the end of the movie a ceremony is held to honor the Navy personnel and Alex, who is promoted to Lieutenant Commander, is presented with a Silver Star and accepts Stone’s posthumous Navy Cross and is also given command of a ship of his own. After the ceremony, Alex asks Admiral Shane for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The admiral initially refuses but invites Alex to lunch to discuss the matter, referencing how Alex and Sam met. Post rolling of the credits, 3 schoolkids and a handyman run in terror as an an alien hand reaches out of an object they have just opened. Sequel, perhaps?

Despite all that, I did enjoy the film. You just have to put aside the predictable plot, the American armed forces promotion and the forgettable performances by some of the cast, especially Rihanna. Why must all African-American rap singers & RnB female singers make movies? Is there some unwritten rule in Hollywood? They are terrible at it. In case she says all the predictable stuff; as the missile approaches the alien vessel, the camera closes in on her and she says “boom” – sound effects as well? and pumps her fists at the right times. No acting skills. The action is fast paced and fun but don’t expect anything great from the film. I give it a 7 outta 10!

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