As if they aren't inherently bad enough, my recent Mondays have been exceptionally unpleasant. Three Mondays ago, I spent my night interviewing shady and unengaged drag queen contestants of the most recent season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Two Mondays ago, I was shoehorned into a sceney party thrown by a sceney magazine featuring loud, unblended music and a limited spread of mean-making alcohol. But my least pleasant Monday night of recent memory was this past one, when I spent over two hours in a theater getting my eardrums violated by Peter Berg's film adaptation of a board game.
Battleship is a movie about things shooting at other things. In many cases, these things are a naval destroyer and aliens. The film provides an endless array of machines that light up like garbage from Spencer Gifts, scream through the air and explode. The aliens, like those in Transformers, are robots. But these robots are bobo imitations of Transformers, some no-name knockoffs from a Five and Dime shelf of another world that will probably give you cancer if you spend too much time with them. They are sub-Gobots.
At least, I think they're robots. It's hard to tell where the robots end and the aliens begin. There's something about them having amphibian-like eyes that makes them vulnerable to the sun that ends up seeming key, but they all get blown up anyway, and even if you don't have amphibious eyes, getting blown up is really bright. Also, we never get to see them still outside of their bobo Robotech for more than a second at a time, so who knows what the hell they are.
The humans with which they engage in a game of volley blow-up are just as bobo. Taylor Kitsch initially rocks Eddie Vedder hair but then sports a sexier, Navy-approved ‘do. Any way you slice it, it's Kitsch kitsch. He mutters a lot. Liam Neeson probably got a million dollars for each of the 10 minutes he spends on screen. He's a phoned-in non-entity. Rihanna is moderately butch, like a vajazzled Vasquez from Aliens. She looks like Whitney Houston in the "Kiss my ass!" scene of Being Bobby Brown and always sounds like she's falling asleep. She gets all the good lines like, "Boom," and, "Mahalo motherf…" That's not the only time the word "motherfucker" is cleaned up for PG-13-pure ears. During a climactic scene, which sports the same lack of tension as the rest of the scenes, someone says, "Let's drop some lead on these mother-" and someone interrupts with "Fire!" That is as clever as it gets.
Also, Brooklyn Decker is blonde.
(Not to get nominally superior, because god knows that my name is as good as an unpronounceable symbol and is the primary bane of my existence, but doesn't "Brooklyn Decker" sound like a real demeaning sex act, possibly involving excrement? My editor, AJ Daulerio says it is: "A Brooklyn Decker is actually when you poop on a girl's boobs then squish the poop in between them like a sandwich. FYI." So there you go. Good call, me.)
The staccato of fake explosions and otherwise atonal clanking reminded me of worst-case scenario Throbbing Gristle. I worried about having that post-concert fuzz on my hearing (but thankfully, I didn't really end up experiencing it). This movie only took from me, both in its tedious build up that involves a minimart break-in and soccer with no aliens in sight, and then in the aim-launch-repeat rhythm of the rest of it after the outsiders from Planet G touch down. The love story between Kitsch and Decker is absurd (he stole her a burrito and as a result, she kisses him a lot). I guess we're supposed to find it cute when the good guys have to bust out an electronic rendering of an actual Battleship board, but that just made it duller to me. This movie is as rewarding as a board game. People cheered during the climax, but to me, there was nothing that distinguished it from every other explosion exchange. To clap for Battleship is to clap for a cumshot. Why bother adding to its self-satisfaction?