I arrived at the WGA screening expecting to see an arty, cerebral, independent film, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, and realized something was odd when Hasbro got a big credit in the first few moments of the opening. I had the times wrong and Battleship was playing on the screen.
My expectations were low, my aisle seat afforded me a quick painless getaway, and yet I stayed. I actually enjoyed the movie.
Power of Idealism bad boy Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, Friday Night Lights) is a colossal screw-up. It’s love at first sight when he spots Sam (Brooklyn Decker) at a bar. She won’t give him the time of day. He makes a big over-the-top romantic gesture of getting her an after hours chicken burrito in ten minutes just to talk to her. This is involves a breaking into a convenience story through the roof, falling a full story several times but beating the time limit imposed by her impossible request.
Power of Idealism characters are misfits, mavericks and rebels. They believe that life and love should involve a grand passion, big romantic gestures, and an individual heroic destiny (even if it others see their actions as doomed, crazy, or just being a jack-ass).
Alex’s Power of Conscience brother, Stone (Alexander Skarsgård), demands Alex get some discipline and learn responsibility by joining the Navy. The two brothers serve together on a destroyer. The story opens during NATO exercises and international competitive sports.
Power of Conscience characters know instinctively if something is wrong, unjust, unfair, improper, corrupt or out of line. Their judgment and response is swift and immutable. These characters believe they are their brother’s keeper. They feel responsible for the greater good and for doing good.
As he rises through the Navy, Alex continues to be a grandstander and a rebel lone wolf hero. He tries to kick a goal by himself after he is injured by a competing Japanese officer. Alex misses and the Navy loses the game to Japan. Alex and the offending Japanese officer develop an intense animosity off the field that explodes into a brutal fist fight.
Meanwhile, the egg heads at NASA try to contact other life forms in deep space after they discover an earth-like planet light years away. Naturally, a hostile alien invasion ensues. The alien’s superior technology and advanced weapons systems terribly out-match what earth has to offer.
Power of Love Seaman Jimmy ‘Ordy’ Ord (Friday Night Lights Alumn Jesse Plemons) is Alex’s reliable side kick. Jimmy comes up with a crucial bit of information about a possible alien personal weakness.
Power of Love characters are the helpful best friend, the loyal sidekick, or adoring love interest who devotes him or her self to helping the hero succeed. They will always tell the hero the hard truth when that’s what he or she needs to hear.
Alex’s now girlfriend, Power of Love Samantha, turns out to be the daughter of Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). She sticks by Alex through thick and thin. Sam is a physical therapist on Oahu, working with wounded post-amputation Navy veterans who are relearning life skills and coping with their loss. One of her patients is Power of Will Lt. Colonel Mick Canales (real-life veteran and double amputee Gregory D. Gadson).
Power of Will characters fear showing any sign of weakness or vulnerability. Mick Canales feels he is now half a man because he is unfit to be a soldier. Mick turns weakness into strength and is a key player in battling the aliens on the ground near their communications center.
Rihanna is the cool sarcastic Power of Reason gunner and expert shot in the crew. Power of Reason character always try to maintain a sense of cool detachment and personal objectivity. They excel in their area of expertise.
I found the film goofily charming and agree with the review in Time Magazine:
The creative team behind this ocean-bound thriller decided to fill the narrative black hole with a few ingredients all but absent from today’s summer tent poles — namely mystery, nostalgia and a healthy dose of humility. Just as blockbusters have made the hard turn towards fantasy heroes who solemnly go about their business in high-def-but-low-impact 3D cage matches, Battleship is an unapologetically goofy, surprisingly enigmatic, refreshingly self-deprecating deviation from the norm. I hesitate to confess that I had more fun here than I did at The Avengers, because low expectations surely had a lot to do with it, but it’s the truth.
In order to best the aliens Alex must learn team work and, at times, defer to the Japanese officer who was once his adversary. The two men develop mutual respect and Alex learns to pick his shots. Cleverness, timing, making the most of what you have, good instincts and most of all teamwork between young and old and Japan and America is what ultimately saves the day.
Unlike most action heroes, who simply possess expert skills, Alex is learning as he goes, and we learn through his eyes. As his crew develops a new attack plan for the final climactic brawl, there’s something slightly more fulfilling about a strategy that’s evolved throughout the film…
…There’s something decidedly retro about the grid sequence, where winning the war at sea has less to do with technology than with instincts, trigger fingers and the equipment at hand. In fact, there’s something delightfully old-school about all the action in Battleship. As classic rock blasts in the background, the movie increasingly shifts its attention away from the spinning, glowing alien ships to the inner workings of mankind’s floating fortresses, paying tribute to veterans and the ingenuity of those in the armed forces. Sure, it’s slightly jingoistic, but when the aliens are calling for backup, we want to cheer for our side.
If you want to read the full Time Magazine review go to http://entertainment.time.com/2012/05/17/battleship-more-f