Battleship is one of those films where you would expect the trailer to blast out the song “Boom” by P.O.D., while something is exploding right before the main character can finish saying “motherfu-”. Still, it has to be said that there is something immensely enjoyable about the film’s special effects and cheesy storyline.
The film stars Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant Alex Hopper, a slacker and doesn’t-play-by-the-rules type of guy who finds himself battling technologically advanced aliens in an effort to save humanity from possible extinction. Fighting alongside Alex is Captain Nagata, played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, who, with his less than stellar English, helps add authenticity to his role as a Japanese Naval Captain and in general works well with an American cast.
No Battleship can function alone though, and the battleship has plenty of crew to make sure things stay dead. Petty Officer Second Class, Cora Raikes, played by Rhianna in her acting debut delivers her one-liners like a champ. Jesse Plemons as Crew Mate and Hamish Linklater as the non-crew member scientist Cal Zapata provide much needed comic relief throughout the movie. Chief Petty Officer Lynch, played by John Tui, as the typical gruff buff guy on the ship, fits perfectly in the role.
That’s just the main story arc though and like any good action flick, there is drama with Alex trying to win the respect of his brother, Commander Stone Hopper, played by Alexander Skarsgard, who acts like a surrogate father figure, and his girlfriend’s dad/boss, Admiral Shane, played by Liam Neeson. There is the romantic tribulation between Alex and his girlfriend, Brooklyn Decker, played by Samantha Shane. Finally, there is the tale of redemption with Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales, played by Gregory D. Gadson, a jaded double amputee Army veteran who tries to find the will to fight.
Yes, the story is for the most part predictable and the characters are one-dimensional. In fact, you could’ve just skipped the three previous paragraphs and just know that humans are fighting aliens in the sea, but if you wanted a deep story-line alluding to the human condition, you obviously wouldn’t be watching a movie based on a Hasbro board game. The movie has a clear goal, and that is pushing out as many action scenes and one-liners in the screen as possible, while leaving enough “boring” parts for the audience to care about the characters.
All is not lost though for the more cynical action movie fans who probably already had their scoffing faces on when the movie was first listed as being in production on IMDB. There are clear moments of cleverness throughout the movie, particularly, the subtly in which the concept of the board game is introduced amidst the gun-blazing action. Plot holes are everywhere though and it would have been nice to have the aliens themselves be more fleshed out in their motivation and goals, and it really could have done without the Star Wars: A New Hope-esque ending. Still, it’s really hard to care about such trivial things when you have the gorgeous Rhianna shooting a power armored alien in the face with a destroyer cannon.
And of course the best part for us is the Asian presence in the film, not just on camera, but the faces you don’t see. For those who wanna know the meat behind the action, look to all the great stunt work in the film and check out our interview with actor/stuntman Darin Fujimori who worked on Battleship!
Battleship screens at the CGV Cinemas in Koreatown on May 16th as part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit their website: LAAPFF
Written by: Sung Kong