Thursday, April 12, 2012

Battleship [2012]

Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Tadanobu Asano, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson
Genre: Science fiction/Action
Rating: General
Excerpt: "Sci-fi fans, if you liked World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles [2011] you would NOT want to miss this one..."

Not too far into the future, technology has finally caught up with humanity's greatest ambition of this age; To find out whether or not we're alone in this universe. Powerful satellites are built, sending transmissions far into space. The story then shifts its focus on slacker Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) who is celebrating his twenty-sixth birthday with his brother, Stone (Alexander Skarsgård), a Naval officer. Tired of watching his little brother piss his life away, Stone enrolls Alex into the Navy, and the latter becomes a reluctant hero when the outer space gives Earth their response; In the form of warships.

What to Expect
1. A popcorn movie
2. Alien invasion movie on a smaller scale
3. Stock characters
4. Well-used Sci-fi tropes
5. Full of suspense
6. A pinch of humour here and there

What NOT to Expect
1. The Alien [1979] approach (i.e. Horror elements)
2. To completely escape that Transformers feel
3. Plot hole-free
This movie was a subject of mockery way before it was released. If I remember correctly it was when I went to see Relationship Status [2012] with some friends, and I saw the movie trailer for the first time. I remember how I quipped "I think they just showed the whole movie" because it certainly felt that way. But it didn't end there. They released at least four more trailers since then, each a tad different from the other and I was pretty baffled at their marketing strategy.

I even wondered if the amount of CGI work it took ripped their sanity to shreds, perhaps loving the end result a little too much they can't help but sneak it out of the editing room bit by bit. Well, I finally saw the movie last Tuesday at a premiere screening (thanks to Nuffnang), and I definitely understood what the hype was all about. If I were to sum it up in one sentence; Let's just say I hated the Transformers movies, but I find Battleship to be pretty damn good.

"We're gonna need a bigger umbrella..." - Something I hoped Rihanna's character would have said
So you might wonder, "So what?" Now, I understand your concern because... Well, that's not saying much, is it? After all, almost any movie is better than a Transformers movie. Heck, the only thing worse than seeing a Transformers movie is seeing blood in your urine. But hear me out. Indeed, Battleship too is nothing more than a popcorn movie and there's no escaping the Transformers comparison because they shared many traits. Not to mention they both originated from toys.

Ah, but here's the thing. The Transformers movies were nothing more than glorified toy commercials whereas Battleship didn't forget a crucial ingredient all action-oriented movies should have; Suspense. Also, they left out one crucial ingredient that will make a movie suck; Michael Bay. It's like this, you could animate Optimus Prime doing backflips on a tightrope as intricately as you want but at the end of the day, we can't force ourselves to care about a movie where there's really nothing at stake.

This is where Battleship differs.

Think of it this way, the Transformers movie didn't care about humans at all, while World Invasion was a very "human" alien invasion movie. Battleship is somewhere in the middle of those two. Have no illusions, though. I still think World Invasion is a better alien invasion movie for one reason; Battleship made the same mistake as the Star Wars prequels in the sense that we are expected to accept several crucial plot points that we weren't told about.

Remember that Star Trek [2009] reboot? Yeap, they pulled the same trick here. In other words, you'll be expected to fill in the blanks as to how protagonist Alex Hopper hopped his way up in ranks when only moments earlier, he was pretty much useless and not at all a team player. No, that's not a spoiler. I call that a favour. Now you'll be prepared to stretch your suspension of disbelief just a little bit more before you walk into the hall.

"Curse you, Mamu Vies!!"
But I digress. Plot holes are indeed a distraction, but this movie made up for it by serving us top notch action sequences that were full of suspense. Thankfully, they tweaked with the formula a little bit by not adhering to the trend set by Ridley Scott's Alien [1979]. What I'm referring to is the mashup of Science fiction with Horror where we don't see much of the enemy. But when we do, you'll know somebody is about to die a gruesome death.

It worked for Alien because that's the kind of threat the Xenomorphs were. It was apparent that those who worked on Battleship understood this, hence why the aliens weren't shrouded in mystery and there were even hints of personality. Or rather, code of conduct that the aliens had. I shall not spoil it for you, so have fun spotting 'em for yourself.

So yeah, despite my reservations, I was thoroughly entertained. Battleship was a refreshing take on the Alien invasion trope where naval warfare was its main focus. If you were to take it as anything more than that, then of course you'll be disappointed because Battleship isn't looking to rake in awards nor did it want to mindfuck the audience. Entertaining, but only good for one sitting and probably won't make it into the list of 2012's best.

But since when that's altogether a bad thing, really?


Zulfahmi said...

Two of my friends said Battleship is the best 2012 movie so far...

Mamü Miguel Ellezda Vies said...

Hrmm... Well, too soon to say. Especially with all the lineup 2012 has in store.

Az said...

Speaking of which, I was pretty gutted that The Girl with Dragon Tattoo is never ever going to be shown here in Malaysia.

Ninja Turtleneck said...

girl with dragon tattoo - a major dialogue that reveal the big twist is during a nude scene where the girl (you know...the one with the dragon tattoo) is cowgirl-ing Mr Bond, James Bond.

Potong scene tu, the whole movie would be pointless kot.

Mamü Miguel Ellezda Vies said...

Too bad. Harus download la kot :P

Az said...

Fair enough. Yeah, come to think of it kalau shown in Malaysia pun mcm tak guna kan. =P

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