April 23, 2012
Not another alien movie
I wouldn't have watched Battleship had it not been the movie chosen by SM Cinemas to launch their E-plus card. Action films are not my cup of tea, and once I saw the huge guns and exploding naval destroyers in the movie trailer, I made no mental note of catching it once it's showing. I passed it off as another plot-less alien invasion flick which, in this case, relies on international pop artist Rihanna and Hollywood actor Taylor Kitsch to draw in viewers and make the project a blockbuster hit.
I now find it a pity if all non-fans of action films had the same presumptions as I did. If so, neither the trailer nor the title did justice to the movie because, as it turns out, Battleship is beyond an action film that has a board game for a title. It's an entertaining and thought-provoking rendition of the otherwise traditional battle between humans and aliens.
Primarily, the film revolves around Alex Hopper's (Taylor Kitsch) character and his journey from being a wayward bum who practically lives on his brother's couch, to an ill-tempered US Navy officer and, eventually, to the hero who saves the world.
He learns to become a leader the hard way when, in the middle of naval exercises, five UFOs land a few meters from the US Navy destroyers (small and fast warships to support larger vessels, in naval terminology) and immediately attack the surrounding fleet. With the literally out-of-this-world weaponry of the aliens, all of Hopper's superiors die and only one of the four destroyers survive, leaving him in charge of the remaining ship.
The movie makes the story of Alex Hopper battling with the extra terrestrials, getting the girl and saving the world its focal point, but it actually has several subplots that remain underdeveloped against the bigger story.
For one, it emphasized the close relationship Alex Hopper shared with his elder brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) right from the beginning, but failed to sustain it because SPOILER ALERT! Stone dies at the start of the alien battles and, as it would have occurred in real life, becomes the least of everyone's priorities—including Alex's—in the face of battle.
A love story is also embedded in the plot but it's merely a means to strengthen the protagonist's character and add more charisma and humor to the script.
Interestingly, though, the film deviates from the usually predictable objective of the aliens to take over the planet and eradicate the whole of human race. Here, the aliens are not quite the merciless creatures that they are often portrayed in film. It's a little different this time because although they're establishing some form of communication between our planet and theirs and destroying all man-made weapons getting in their way, they know how to spare a life.
Because they can't see properly in sunlight, the aliens wear cyborg suits that are equipped with a technology that segregates the dangerous from the safe. People with guns and on board the warships are naturally regarded as dangerous by the cyborgs and immediately killed, but animals, children and unarmed humans are spared and left unharmed. It's unfortunate, however, that Battleship doesn't elaborate on it besides showing a few incidents where the theme is underlined. It would have been nice if they explained this further because sparing lives is not something people expect from aliens in any other alien movie.
Witty quips in the script, a cowardly science geek as a main character, and Kitsch's smart-ass acting still make the movie humorous and very entertaining. The naval battles might even inspire the women to sign up for the Navy. It's a film that runs for a little more than two hours, but because it's a great watch, you'd probably leave the movie house already anticipating a sequel.
Battleship is now showing in cinemas nationwide.