Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Hamish Linklater, Jesse Plemons, John Tui, Gregory D. Gadson, Adam Godley, Peter MacNichol
Just from the previews alone, I couldn’t help but prejudge Battleship. I had no plans to see it now or even when it came out in some kind of disc format. It just so happened that I won free passes to a pre-screening of it, so I decided to go.
The story starts off with Commander Stone Hopper (played by Alexander Skarsgård) getting onto his little brother, Alex Hopper (played by Taylor Kitsch), about doing something with his life by joining the Navy. Later on while celebrating Alex’s birthday at the local bar, Alex decides to woo a girl. This scene ends up with him tazed and arrested, but he got the girl, Samantha Shane (played by Brooklyn Decker). Samantha turns out to be the daughter of the Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, Admiral Shane (played by Liam Neeson).
Fast forward some odd months down the road, Alex is now a Lieutenant and US Naval Tactical Action Officer in charge of the CIC onboard the USS John Paul Jones destroyer. He is dating Sam and hoping to ask for her hand in marriage. His brother commands the USS Sampson destroyer. The sailors are getting ready for RIMPAC 2012, a biennial international maritime exercise.
We are brought up to speed as a representative US Navy Soccer team is battling the Japan Soccer team. Alex gets injured by a kick to the face from Captain Nagata (played by Tadanobu Asano), a Japanese sailor and Commanding Officer of the JDS Myōkō. Despite beckoning from Stone, Alex takes the penalty kick that decides the game. The ball flies over the goal, handing the game to the Japanese. This starts a rivalry between Captain Nagata and Alex, leading up to a fist fight in the head of the USS Sampson. Alex, who had been trying to get the guts to ask Admiral Shane for Samantha’s hand, is yet again discouraged by the man’s lack of faith in him.
In the background, NASA is making strides to contact the Goldilocks planet. There is a satellite in orbit to support the powerful signal from a communications array, magically, located in Hawaii. In answer to the transmission from Earth, five alien ships arrive. The aliens’ communication ship strikes an orbiting satellite and crashes in Hong Kong, while the rest land in the water off of Hawaii. Arleigh Burke class destroyers Sampson and John Paul Jones, along with Japanese Kongo class destroyer, Myōkō are effectively trapped when one of the alien ships erects an impenetrable force field.
Battleship is a very predictable movie. It could be compared to an Independence Day for this decade, but on the lower end of what made Independence Day great. Battleship, based on the Hasbro board game, didn’t really give the game it’s due. There is a sequence where the characters must use a grid and coordinates like “G14″ are shouted out. There is also one minor character who says “You won’t sink my battleship”. Other than that, there really isn’t much homage to the game.
While I enjoyed seeing Alexander Skarsgård as a Naval Officer, I feel his and Liam Neeson’s talents were just wasted. This was Rihanna’s debut into the movie business. I was pleased with her representation of a female sailor, but I feel that she threw away her debut role. This author is one of the very few of US viewers who enjoyed John Carter, but the rest of the country will be adding Battleship to Taylor Kitsch’s list of flops.
As a United States Navy Veteran, I have only served on aircraft carriers. I have no experience in the realm of destroyers or battle ships. On the personnel side, I was rather impressed with the portrayal of Sailors. Chief Petty Officer “Beast” Lynch (played by John Tui) was a great example of a Navy Chief. He was salty, willing and ready to take charge when the need arises, and had that bite that is expected in a Chief. For me, personally, he was a spitting image (looks, personality and sarcasm) of the first Chief that I had upon my arrival to Naval Station Sigonella, Sicily.
I was very pleased with the authenticity of the film. Retired Capt. Rick Hoffman brought a Navy boot camp to the set for the actors, but almost all the extras were actual Sailors. There’s even a cameo by the current Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus. He plays the Commanding Officer of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. The use of the array of shipboard defenses was a great move. My personal favorite is the R2-D2 looking CIWS (usually pronounced “sea-whiz”).
One aspect of this movie that I was extremely puzzled by was the sheer lack of women. Rihanna (who played Gunner’s Mate Second Class Petty Officer Cora Raikes) represented females in a very upstanding way. She took no shit and was out there with her fellow male Sailors getting things done. However, the male-to-female ratio is, in no way, that uneven.
A friend of mine brought up a great point about each branch getting their own movie, example being the Air Force with Transformers and now the Navy with Battleship. I have to disagree. Top Gun is the Navy’s movie. This movie is no Top Gun and I honestly don’t see it winning any awards. Although, it is more watchable than I thought it would be.
The Good: Portrayal of the U.S. Navy
The Bad: Same Old Aliens Versus Earth Story
The Ugly: Rihanna’s Big Screen Debut