I went to see Battleship yesterday evening, and I am still mulling over what I watched. Many may be surprised that Peter Berg’s film inspires such meditation, but it truly does. After some deliberation, I have narrowed the possibilities down to three: Battleship is either a silly blockbuster, an uneven farce, or a sly spoof. Below, I shall elaborate on this (spoilers ahead)…
At face value, Battleship seems to be exactly this. A thread-bare plot, with more emphasis being placed on the set pieces than anything else. Peter Berg’s film perhaps illustrates the worst aspects of the modern blockbuster; scant attention paid to the script, a lack of characterisation and not even a decent high-concept premise. Instead, the film is filled with explosions, gunfire and hot young stars (Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna and Alexander Skarsgård). Well that’s all a blockbuster aficionado requires, right?
Perhaps Peter Berg intended Battleship to be a farce. Straight-faced characters deal with the most implausible of events, and keep striving no matter how absurd the situation becomes. Despite knowing nothing about the aliens and armed with only one gun, Samantha and co decide to ram into the satellite station, which is swarming with invaders. The navy vetrans’ involvement. This is surely the stuff of farce. The reason it is uneven is because these events are not consistently funny, almost as if they had not been written for laughs. Although reflecting on them, Battleship would probably be even more amusing if viewed solely as a farce.
Battleship could be a spoof of the Michael Bay blockbuster packaged as a straightforward blockbuster for mass consumption. After all, the elements are all there. The poor dialogue of the Michael Bay blockbuster is elevated to ludicrous levels in Battleship. Berg’s film goes beyond Transformers by basing his film on a toy that does not even have a semblance of a plot, or actual characters. Even the volume and the level of implausibility are pushed to the limit. As a comment on the Michael Bay blockbuster (and, in fairness, a number of other directors), Battleship spoofs the lack of originality present. If the film does good business, then Battleship would have proved how audiences lap up even the most tenuous of films. At this stage, it is too premature to say ‘well played, Mr Berg’.
Battleship is out in cinemas now. Perhaps someone could let me know exactly what the film is.