Graphic Language: Low (Several words are cut off)
Strong Sexual Content: Low (kissing)
It’s ridiculous. Aliens, alerted to Earth’s presence by a scientific, high-powered signal shot into deep space, have come to annihilate mankind with staggeringly advanced technology and weaponry. Earth’s only defense? Battleships. And the guy from Friday Night Lights.
Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a bit of a failure. His older brother, Stone Hopper (Alex Skarsgard), continually lectures him about his “choices” and wants him to join the Navy. In the middle of one such reprimand about Alex’s life in a bar, in walks Sam Shane (played by Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker). Sam says she wants a chicken burrito, and Alex does whatever he can to get it (trying to impress her) including breaking (falling) through the ceiling of the convenience store next door, destroying several aisles, breaking back out the front door, and eventually handing her the burrito while police are tasing him.
A few scenes later, Alex is now inexplicably clean-cut and in the Navy, participating in a weekend of international competition involving naval maneuvers and simulated war games. However, the war games in the multimillion dollar, fully battle-ready ships is after the first competition, which is . . . wait for it . . . a soccer game. Also, in a predictable turn, Sam’s dad (a part wasted on Liam Neeson) turns out to be an admiral in the Navy, and Alex must get up the courage to ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
During the maneuvers, aliens fall from the sky, land in the Pacific, and create an impenetrable force field around Hawaii and three of the battleships, manned by the two Hopper brothers and a Japanese officer, Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano). The aliens, in massive, insect-like ships, quickly dispatch two of the battleships by firing explosives (that look suspiciously like the pegs used in the board game). With all of the senior officers dead, Alex is now forced into commanding the battleship and finding a way to defeat the aliens. His solution? Use the now-museum battleship, the U.S.S. Missouri, and museum-aged veterans (in a typical music-swelling, slow-motion walk reveal) to man the ancient warship and save the world. Never mind that to resurrect the Missouri it’d take a whole load of fuel, restocking of ammo, and about 1,500 men. Battleship does it with about eight people.
I’m all for suspending disbelief with summer blockbusters, but there’s so much absurdity it’s hard to suspend. Just a few: How did Alex go from burrito burglar to third in command on the ship? The aliens can only shoot straight, if they have line-of-sight, not diagonally. What?? There’s a scene where the aliens have the stars of the movie dead to rights, but choose not to kill them. Huh?? And what is Rihanna doing in this movie, other than butchering every scene she’s in and quoting Die Hard?
The effects are, unfortunately, quite good, but it feels like an inexperienced couple trying to flip a house by cramming granite counter tops into a $45,000 mold-infested tri-level on the West side. There are a few funny moments, but not enough to entertain. I will say, though, that Hasbro’s other franchise, Transformers, could do little harm in replacing director Michael Bay with Battleship’s Peter Berg. He did the best job with what he had, and Berg keeps the movie’s tongue firmly planted in its cheek throughout. The effects are worthy enough to merit seeing Battleship on the big screen, but wait until the $1.00 theater and leave the kids at home.
Courtesy of Universal Pictures
There are a few concerning points in Battleship. In one of the first scenes, the main character commits a crime just to impress a girl. There’s violence, although it’s of the CGI nature with things blowing up rather than a gratuitous display of blood. The PG-13 rating is pushed to the brink, with a few F-words that are cut off by clever editing—the audience knows full well what was about to be said. The director doesn’t shy away from the fact that one character is played by a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. There’s also a scene where characters are drinking in a bar. On the other hand, the main through-line is an underdog story, where a misfit can become a hero, where things that seem outdated can still overcome adversity, and there’s a nod to the Navy itself, acknowledging the incredible job the men and women have done to protect our nation.
“Youth is wasted on the young.” –George Bernard Shaw. In Battleship, the true heroes aren’t the young, muscled, and tech-laden, but the old, gristled, “back-in-our-day” veterans. Today’s youth can learn a little something from their elders; and it’s a point too often overlooked or forgotten. The Bible encourages its readers in Leviticus to “rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.” Proverbs is rife with heeding the words of a father, and refraining from despising your mother when she is old. One of the Ten Commandments handed down from Mt. Sinai is “honor your father and mother.” In this generation of fast-paced instant gratification, perhaps lending an ear to one who’s “been there, done that,” might do some good. The greatest natural resource of this planet is its people, and there is shockingly less time spent mining the riches of the elderly. Take a moment to ponder these questions: • In your own life, who do you know that you can gain good Godly wisdom from? • If you’re a bit older and a bit wiser, who can you impart your wisdom to? • What can you do this week to gain (or give) some wisdom?