Lauren: I have to admit something right now, as a child I got really competitive when it came to Battleship. Each time I would swear I came up with the best distribution for my ships to trick my opponent, and would gleefully laugh in my mind when I would get to put a white peg of fail in the waters surrounding my fleet (obviously playing it cool on the outside). With that said, nothing was going to give me more pleasure than being able to bombard this movie with red pegs, shouting at the top of my lungs… wait for it… “YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP!” Original, I know, but don’t mess with the classics.
But guess what guys, my positivity that I would have my moment to belt this at the credits was all for naught. That’s right, Battleship is actually a pretty fun movie.
Zac: I can agree that the film is fun, but it certainly is also pretty dumb. The movie could easily be ripped to shreds, but I don’t really think I want to do that because I had fun too. Peter Berg was apparently very passionate about this project and wanted to do some world building and not just throw up a generic alien story and he succeeds to a certain extent.
The non-alien storyline is pretty straightforward, but works for the most part due to a charismatic lead turn by Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch plays our rough around the edges would be hero who is constantly underachieving for everyone in his life. His brother keeps picking him up, his commanding officer wants him gone, and he can’t go the final lap for his girlfriend. When he is thrown into the middle of a possible alien invasion, Kitsch’s Lt. Hopper is forced to become the man everyone thinks he could be.
The set up of Hopper and his relationships with his brother and his girl couldn’t have been done much better. I actually cared about Hopper, his family, and his friends, and one of Berg’s strengths of the film is some solid and streamlined character building. Sure it relies heavily on some familiar tropes, but Kitsch was hilarious in the opening and really won the audience over.
Lauren: I can agree with this, though Kitsch still needs to win me over a little bit. Like in John Carter, there was just something missing (especially towards the beginning), but he’s getting closer and closer to whatever it is with each film he has. And I did appreciate the moment he finally grew into something more than an obstinate little brother who fought for so long against what was asked of him. Best of all, he finally cut that hair. But like you said, there was a decent amount of character building that did have me rooting for everyone, and not just because I was anti-alien. Even Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna, both of which I was a little down on because I haven’t seen them act much, pulled me around to their side. And then there is Jesse Plemons, adding some nice amounts of skepticism to the bravado than might be found among the others.
But what was honestly the most satisfying aspect of the film (other than some fantastic CGI shots. Not all, but a lot) about this film was how it didn’t take itself too seriously. I mean, it has Liam Neeson in it, for crying out loud, so it could be all macho, but there were so many places put in for laughter that I can’t help but commend those who contributed to the feel for making the right decision on tone. It may not have gone as far as someone actually saying “You sunk my battleship,” but the nod contained that does acknowledge where the film “originated” was perfect, as was the majority of the other jokes that seemed rather aware of what film they were in.
Zac: They said they are NOT going to sink their battleship actually. The film’s self awareness was a relief and did allow for a lot of humor, but you would think they would be aware that watching the game Battleship is boring as hell. There is a sequence in the film where they sort of recreate the Battleship experience, and while they save it in the end we literally stare at a screen for way too long that things get boring.
The film does have a couple other dull moments as well, and this high-octane action ride grinds to a halt on a number of occasions. Brooklyn Decker’s entire plotline could have been thrown out, but as it stands should have been cut drastically. The practically winking at the camera nerdy scientist guy was completely grating and the double amputee soldier Decker’s character is rehabbing isn’t much better. Their big finale moment falls flat as well and I just wish it all wasn’t there. There is also an extended alien hunt below deck on one of the ships and it too could have been thrown out without missing a beat.
I have a beef with the alien design on top of the slow spots and think that seeing those spiny things in slow-mo is nowhere near as impressive as some Transformers running around and what not. I also am not too sure how much I bought into the alien’s not attacking apparently non-hostile people. It is clearly in there for the sake of plot holes and it’s not very effective nor makes much sense.
Lauren: All right, I cannot agree with the majority of what you just said. So I’m gonna remove those scissors from your edit-happy hands and argue the other side.
1 – Did you not just see me call that Battleship moment perfect!? It was awesome! Clearly you’re just not nerd enough for the science behind it, because that whole scientific explanation about water displacement completely validated that whole sequence. Sure, it could have been cut slightly, but I was really happy as it stands. Plus it was a great character growth moment for Hopper.
2 – Cut Decker then you might as well cut Neeson too because she is pretty much the only reason that character had any moments on screen (other than the “you suck as a person” speech). Plus, she provides some pretty vital information down the road? Might as well be her, because then we’d just have more annoying nerd.
3 – Alien design. What would you have preferred? Another mechanical looking alien? Been there, done that. Based on the planet they come from I am really happy they went the humanoid route, though I will admit that when the helmets come off the aliens do look a little cartoonish, like something that we might see soon in Men in Black 3. Personally, what I didn’t get about the aliens was a certain skill that was completely unnecessary. You’ll know it when you see it.
4 – This is what my boyfriend said to me post viewing because I was a little confused as well in concern to how the aliens went about their pre-invasion. The first thing to do in this situation is to cut communication, which they did. Then, you destroy enough of the infrastructure so that it impedes aid and all that good stuff. Basically this is a recon like team in a sense: do the basics and wait for the big guns to start killing off the home species unless a group or individual poses an immediate threat. So to those who understand military tactics like the BF it makes sense, but could have been broken down a little more for the rest of us because I will say I got pretty confused when those ball things started going to town on the island. And I really hope I wasn’t the only one yelling, “Swing away” at the baseball kid.
Zac: Even though I didn’t like those things the movie still had some good moments. The single take of the sinking ship that starts with a pair of heroes, checks on everyone else, and then comes back to those first heroes was worth the price of admission alone. I already mentioned Kitsch’s likability, but your aforementioned like for Plemons (Landry!) is also reciprocated here. He was hilarious and I hope Berg keeps putting him in movies. The couple of “big” one liners were also pretty great, if ridiculous, and I particularly enjoyed the sniper scene at dawn.
All in all I enjoyed watching Battleship, but I can’t help but look around a lot of its shortcomings. Still, you could do a lot worse at the theaters and this one was eaten up by the crowd I was with. The film is half-baked, but still pretty tasty.
Lauren: Battleship does have problems, sure, but it is the surprise summer blockbuster for me considering how little I expected from it. Turn your brain off and enjoy the ride.
Lauren: B- Follow @BewareOfTrees