In theory director Peter Berg’s Battleship is supposed to be based on the popular guessing game of the same name. In reality there’s almost no connection between Battleship the movie and its Milton Bradley namesake at all, outside of a single thrilling ten-minute sequence involving buoys, missiles, and a big board. The rest of the movie is a puzzle made up of pieces cribbed from some of history’s most infamously ridiculous summer blockbusters.
Battleship is an alien invasion movie, I guess, but it’s also one of the many recent Hollywood movies which only really uses aliens because killing them won’t offend anyone. Like any alien species imagined under such creatively corrupted circumstances, these extraterrestrials aren’t very good at their job.
They land in the middle of a naval excercise, which might not be tactically ridiculous if their ships had some sort of technological superiority which would enable them to crush their human opponents without a thought, but they don’t. Their ships can’t even fly. Instead they sort of flop about in the water and shoot at the Navy with weapons which, while weirder, aren’t all that much more effective than those used on the deck of a World War II era battleship. Actually, they’re exactly that effective, as the movie later goes on to demonstrate.
Eventually we find out they’ve arrived as some sort of pre-invasion force, we learn this via an out of place scene stolen from every alien invasion movie you’ve ever seen in which an ET mind-melds with one of the crew. So they’re here to wipe out humanity and take the planet for themselves, thus it makes sense when they set about blowing up our ships and attacking the Hawaii mainland. What doesn’t make sense is the alien attackers hesitance to shoot at anything that isn’t already shooting at them (later abandoned) or their refusal to kill little kids playing baseball (though they’re happy to murder the ones who use our highway system).
So the aliens are ineffectual, ill-equipped, and their tactics don’t make a lot of sense. That leaves the film’s human component to carry the day and, well, they sort of do. Taylor Kitsch is heroic, Rihanna steals scenes running around shooting guns, and Brooklyn Decker’s curves are so hypnotic it doesn’t matter what sort of dreck comes out of her mouth as dialogue. You won’t even mind that half the script seems like it was written as a PSA for the families of wounded soldiers. Does it matter if you’re being manipulated, if you know you’re being manipulated all along? I say it doesn’t.
Every moment of Battleship is either idiotic or stolen. Edit a lot of idiotic and stolen together into two hours of film and you end up with a big, silly summer blockbuster in which legless men can be heroes and the elderly can still be useful. Sometimes you want big, silly and stupid in the middle of a hot, sweaty summer. It’s unlikely anyone will make anything sillier or stupider than Battleship any time soon. Go ahead and see it, just don’t tell anyone.