Battleship: The Movie

Saw Battleship the other day. 

I have to say, I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief and just enjoy a movie. Happy to, even, at times. But the movie has to meet me halfway, you know? It has to have a consistent plot and worthwhile dialogue. If you’re going to base a film at all in reality, you need to at least keep that reality mostly, you know, real. Sensible. Battleship does none of these.

The first thing you notice about the movie is that after half an hour has passed, there’s still no plot yet. It was mentioned early on that we were sending a signal to a nearby planet, and everyone knew going into the theater to see this film that there would be aliens, but that’s the extent of it. That first half hour is almost exclusively spent on a bit of character backstory and development. It’s very very bad development, to start with, but the kicker for me is that in the end it’s totally unnecessary to the point of being ridiculous. It goes to stupid lengths to detail the guy’s love interest and his history therewith, to show how he ended up in the Navy, to show how he invents a rivalry with a guy in the span of a day, etc. It also shows that in spite of being regularly under threat of being discharged for being a moron, he’s an officer on the bridge of a ship. Pretty sure the Navy doesn’t keep people that are one step away from a dishonorable discharge in positions like that. Nor, if he was so consistently acting up, would he have managed to pass officer school. But on top of all that he and another high ranking officer decide to have a fight in the bathroom at a formal ceremony blah blah it’s moronic. This could have been stripped down to five minutes to introduce him, his love interest, suggest a rivalry, and get on with it. But no. 

When the actual fighting gets going, the CGI is appropriately pretty and the fighting is somewhat tense, if quite silly here and there, etc. Much of the middle part of the movie, aside from some very bad acting (so bad), is fine. And then comes the massive jolt back to the “reality doesn’t count for shit” stuff.

So to spoil it, towards the end the protagonists need another ship to keep fighting and the Navy can’t provide one (don’t ask), so they go to Pearl Harbor and get the USS Missouri, which before you look it up is a WW2-era vessel now stuck there as a museum ship, and they fire it up and go. And although I commend the writers for coming up with a stirring moment there… it is actually somewhat moving a moment in spite of what I’m about to blast it with… it falls flat after even a minuscule amount of thought on the subject.

Did you know that the US Navy maintains its 70+ year old museum ships in completely working order, fully fueled and stocked with 70+ year old ammunition? With the guns in fully working order, ready to take on an alien invasion? Which can be manned with about 50 sailors (I’m being generous with that number and assuming there were plenty not on screen… they showed about 20), in spite of needing around a 2000 man force at the time it was decommissioned? Which can be restored to service and steaming out of port inside of about 12 hours? Because it surprised the hell out of me.

Perhaps I’m being harsh on that as a mild WW2 naval buff, but honestly, I couldn’t move past it. After that point there’s still some decent action left but there’s about a trillion ways this could have been made more sensible even if they kept the Missouri in it. It’s giving me a headache to just be thinking about it again. And then, of course, it ends with the guy’s constant transgressions and loss of a ship being ignored and awarded with medals and so on. I’ll let them get away with that too.

I cannot believe I sat through that shit. I feel dirty for having done so. I actually had to pause it several times during the viewing to stop and gather my strength to continue. The film made back its budget but not by a whole lot, so at least the audiences realized it was crap and didn’t turn it into a blockbuster, which is slightly reassuring in the face of what audiences seem to like these days. 

But damn man. Do not see that movie. Do not.