How... how did this happen? That was the main question I had before walking into Battleship, my primary puzzler as I watched it, and now my greatest quandary as I write this review. How did anyone ever think that dropping over 200 million dollars on a (quasi)boardgame-to-film adaptation was a smart plan? How did enough fat cats sign on to make it happen? Is there a higher-up over at Universal who always harbored a lingering suspicion that the famed naval tactics game of his youth would be bettered with the inclusion of aliens, and decided to make this his pet project? Did Rihanna's agent really think this would launch her film career? Does she have the same agent as Taylor Kitsch, who's now managed to slot his wanna-be star into the lead role of both 2012's biggest flops (John Carter being the other)? So many questions, so little time. But I know what you're all here for, so I'll just get to it: The plot summary
The U.S. Government is stupid. We know this, because at the beginning of every movie released between May and August, they bait alien invasions by trying to initiate contact with other worlds (even you, The Avengers... tisk, tisk). We also know this because a nervous wise-cracker, who's clearly designed after some sort of positive/negative Jewish stereotype, whispers so to his friend. He suggests that, should we be successful, history might repeat itself, with our space-buddies playing Columbus, and us poor Earth-dwellers filling in for the natives. This, unless I am mistaken, is the same analogy made at the beginning of 2010's Skyline trailer (Update: Confirmed), a movie from which no piece of art should ever, EVER be taking its cues. Sounds like a rough start to the flick, right? Oh, you haven't heard nothin' yet. Enter, "Character Development."
Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a rebel without a cause, wreaking havoc down in a Hawaiian paradise. After drunkenly trying to impress a by-the-numbers hot blonde (Brooklyn Decker), Hopper's older brother, inexplicably named Stone (would the same pair of parents really name one son Alex, and the other Stone?), enlists his kid brother in the Navy along with him. At this point, the title of the movie flashes on screen, and you look down at your phone. Only ten minutes passed, partner; you've got a waaays to go. We flash-forward to young Hopper, who's since cut his hair, and is now dating that same girl, who was apparently very impressed by his inebriated rampage. We know that she is a good person because she has very large breasts, but her scowling father, Admiral Shane (played by a where-the-hell-am-I? Liam Neeson), doesn't take kindly to Hopper's wily ways. All of a sudden, NASA starts picking up those same ominous signals, and Alex must defeat an alien invasion to prove that he has enough courage, integrity, and character to be worthy of fondling Decker's glorious bosom. Don't check that phone again, because only a half hour has past. Hang in there, Champ.
I went into Battleship expecting from it the one and only thing that might have been fair to anticipate: dumb, empty-headed, moronic fun. While the movie is surely a stirring success in as far as those first three descriptors are concerned, the, 'fun,' part of it only shows up sporadically. Yeah, it's kind of enjoyable to laugh at how Decker's, 'Concerned Face,' is less deep-inner-pain, and more who-just-farted? There's also a late-game twist that literally had me doubled-over with laughter, which is worth something, I suppose. But the aliens are so lazily imagined, and the action sequences so repetitive and boring, that no number of terrible performances could save(?) this thing. The single best aspect of Battleship is getting to make fun of it afterwards, but in order to do that, you have to sit through 2012's loudest, most bombastic snore-fest thus far. Expect so-bad-it's-good at your own peril, and don't blame me when your phone says it's only been an hour.