It’s pathetic enough that Battleship is pretty much the dullest alien-invasion movie ever, featuring an uninteresting incursion by nondescript aliens not even blowing shit up in exciting new ways. But Battleship also fancies itself a cautionary tale. “OMG, we should not be broadcasting our existence to the universe,” it cries, “because all the bad aliens will come for our water or gold or blood or Twix bars or something!”
All we need is Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, X- Men Origins: Wolverine), who goes from loser to lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in exactly the same amount of time it takes for the aliens to come invadin’. And then some tech outdated by even Earth standards turns out to be enough to bring down alien invaders anyway. We don’t even need our best stuff. All we need is a mothballed battleship and a bunch of grandpas who probably haven’t even forgiven Japan for Pearl Harbor yet.
I wish I was kidding about all this. So Battleship is pretty much the least effective cautionary tale ever. It seems the only battle tech the aliens have that is better than ours is their horn, which is way louder than the one on even the newest, coolest aircraft carrier we can come up with.
Screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber — who as a team wrote Red, which is awesome, and Whiteout, which is not — had to bring in the mothballed battleship, because they were locked into “crafting” a movie around a mothballed board game. But they could have been more creative about it. For a few minutes early on, it seems as if they might be sending up these sorts of movies, but then they just give up and embrace the idiocy.
I can’t even say this is nothing but a pointless exercise in blowing stuff up, because actually not that much stuff blows up at all, and certainly not in inventive new ways we haven’t seen before.
Pop star Rihanna, whose casting as a Navy grunt prompted howls of derisions, is the leastbad thing about this flick. She at least brings a bit of energy to the screen. The same cannot be said of, say, Liam Neeson, who we can feel counting his pay wad in the few scenes he appears in. His sole purpose as a Navy admiral is to be the intimidating father of Brooklyn Decker (Just Go with It), whom Kitsch wants to marry but can’t get up the nerve to ask for permission. Hoorah for Kitsch, for by saving the world — at least until the sequel! — from boring, incompetent aliens, he is finally made man enough to confront Neeson. This isn’t quite as appalling as crafting a tale of the end of the world so as to empower a little girl to stop wetting the bed — see 2012 for this — but almost.
Then again, the notion that an adult woman would require her father’s permission to marry puts the social setting of Battleship on a par with the military and scientific one. Horatio Hornblower vs. Aliens in the Napoleonic War? That could have been a whole helluva lot more adventurous fun than this soggy mess.