Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Battleship: Bad Movie of the Decade

Recently, I saw Battleship. In a fair and just world, that would be the end of the story. Unfortunately for us, this is not a fair and just world, and Battleship not only exists, but was absolutely fucking dreadful. I've seen my fair share of bad movies and even among those, Battleship ranks as one of the most atrocious things I've ever paid seven dollars to look at.

It was beautiful.

Only a .jpg can truly capture this movie's glory.

Battleship is such an inhumanly awful movie it's a wonder nobody, at any point in the process, stopped themselves and asked what the fuck they were doing. It was a mess of explosions and bit characters and wanton violence rolled up with gleeful enthusiasm and a hilariously serious attitude. This movie, this disgustingly horrible movie, actually took itself seriously, and it was truly a sight to behold. Few movies have ever been this abhorrent, and I love Battleship for it. Here, let me tell you why:


Most of the characters, assemble!

Okay, let's start with the easy: characters. Good Christ were there a lot of them. Early in the movie we are introduced to the main character, whose last name is Hopper. His brother is also introduced. Since their first names are only given once, I refer to them using their hair colors: Hopper Black, the main character, an undisciplined slacker, and Hopper Blond, his formless husk of a character brother who is also in the Navy. Hopper Blond dies pretty quickly, so he doesn't really matter. In fact, none of the other characters really matter except for Hopper Black and Rihanna.

Okay, I'm going to be fair: Rihanna didn't do too badly in Battleship. Sure, the extent of her character was 'following orders' and 'shooting the fuck out of things with really big guns,' and it's pretty hard to fuck that up. Plus, maybe it was the rest of the movie being completely dreadful that made her look at least mediocre. Point is, Rihanna shot things and I think she punched an alien stormtrooper in the chest, so really, she did okay.

There are also Girlfriend and Cripple Man. Girlfriend is the girlfriend of Hopper Black and is the Admiral Chief Doge Commander's daughter. Cripple Man is an obese black man with robot legs because he lost them in the war, man. While Girlfriend is a boring mess of random personality traits, Cripple Man is a sarcastic singularity of self-loathing from which no innocence can escape. By being one of the most fundamentally flawed characters, he somehow manages to be the most likable character. 'Likable' here means 'he was amusing.' All of the characters were shit, remember.

There was also Sensei. Sensei was the commander of a Japanese destroyer before it was blown right the hell up and joined the ship under Hopper Black's command and proceeded to be immensely condescending to Hopper Black. Other than 'stereotypical source of east Asian philosophy and battle tactics,' that was about as detailed as his character got, until he spontaneously developed a friendship with Hopper Black and über l33t sn1p3r sk1llz (coincidentally, at around the same time).

There was also Nerd, a generic scientisty guy in charge of a bunch of satellite dishes on Hawai'i that shoot lasers at satellites, both of which I will discuss later. Nerd was especially remarkable and I won't discuss him any more.

And I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the Old People, who I will discuss in their own section, because they were that fucking important.


Battleship has an incredibly subtle plot, because it took me a few scenes to realize that there was a plot at all. Maybe it was just that formless. It's entirely possible and at this point expected, actually, so let's just go with that.

Anyway, the movie starts with Nerd discovering a planet that is basically Earth in a planetary system far away. He sends some signals, which appear to be actual physical laser beams, to it with his array of Hawai'ian dishes and satellites. We forget he's a character until a while later.

Suddenly in 2012, we see Hopper Black and Hopper Blond partaking in RIMPAC, which is at least a real thing. As part as some goofy exercise I never grasped the full meaning of, three ships under the command of Hopper Blond, Sensei, and an unknown Generic Officer blunder off into the ocean, where a bunch of not at all mysterious flaming spaceships crashed to the depths. When three extremely advanced and obviously hostile spaceships suddenly pop out of the ocean from a platform tower thing and a forcefield traps them, Hopper Blond makes the decision to randomly bull rush the closest spaceship, which, strangely, is the same strategy I employ when I'm playing Huntsman Sniper on koth_Nucleus and things are looking bleak.

Funnily enough, the two usually end up with the same outcome.

With Hopper Blond blown to very tiny bits and Generic Officer killed in an attack on his ship, it's just Sensei and Hopper Black, who steps up to be Commander Officer Corporal. There's some random bullshit and Sensei's ship is also destroyed, but not as badly, so there are a lot of survivors and Sensei joins Hopper Black's party.

Meanwhile, the giant space tower emerging from the ocean spits out two Destructoballs, which are basically giant whirling buzzsaws and explosions that chew through everything randomly. They ravage the fuck out of whatever city is nearby and blow up the naval base by just sort of running around in it. With a bunch of civilians sufficiently murdered, the aliens set up shop on Nerd's mountaintop lab, stealing his satellite dishes for nefarious purposes. Cripple Man, who is out on a rehabilitation walk with Girlfriend, decides he's having none of this shit and initiates Operation: Fuck the Shit Out of These Aliens, teaming up with Nerd to sabotage the alien's efforts at taking over the dishes.

Meanwhile again, Sensei used his ancient Japanese magic to plot a Battleship grid and use buoys that measure water levels to track the spaceships' locations, because it's suddenly night. After blowing the fuck out of two of the alien ships, more Destructoballs destroy Hopper Black's ship. Everyone convenient survives, fortunately, but they don't have a ship. Well, they have the USS Missouri, which is currently acting as a museum. "What the fuck ever," Hopper Black says, "Like we've given a shit about anything before." Unfortunately, they have a crew consisting of: Hopper Black, Sensei, Rihanna, and Moron, who kept appearing in the background and operated a radar station. "Oh shit, we don't have a crew to operate this shitty boat," Sensei says in a Japanese accent. "We are truly hopeless."

Enter the Old People. Enter the Old People in a beautiful montage of hairy old men with beer guts and bifocals, standing dramatically around the USS Missouri, looking about as tough as a WWII veteran possibly can when he's well beyond the age of being useful in a firefight. They stood around with determined looks on their faces, agreeing to help man the battleship in what is truly the worst scene in the worst movie I've seen in a long time.

I regret being unable to find a picture of this moment. Have a terrible tourist photo instead.

I wish I could fucking frame that scene. I wish I could hang it on my wall in front of my toilet, so I'd be able to see it every day while taking a shit. Because that fucking scene where the Old People emerged from the woodwork as triumphant music played is the single greatest worst thing I've ever seen, and it is a memory I will cherish forever. I actually began laughing in the theatre. I don't think I was the only one. Any and all respect I had for Battleship (which, admittedly, was extremely little) vanished right there as the Arthritis Brigade suddenly began piloting a ship that probably doesn't even work anymore.

Just when things got most pathetic, the movie reached its most awesome. The combined forces of Girlfriend, Cripple Man, and a truck temporarily thwarted the aliens' attempts to phone home using the satellites, but the truck crashed and Girlfriend's leg was caught. As a space marine was slowly stalking toward the vehicle, Cripple Man suddenly decided being an irritable deadpan snarker wasn't enough for him and he wanted to take a level in badass, too. He proceeded to beat the shit out of a heavily armed space marine in magic invincible space armor with his cane. When the marine got the jump on Cripple Man, Nerd decided to stop being a waste of space and took a level in badass, too, clubbing the alien on the back of the head with a metal box. They think they're pretty tough shit because they just probably murdered an alien with a stick and a briefcase, but Girlfriend manages to get free and they run away because for some reason no other aliens were rushing to the scene of the huge truck that just plowed through their power conduits and nobody wants to stick around to see them appear. We see them appear anyway, fixing the power cords that were...just unplugged. The characters admit it was a massive waste of time and flee.

Back on the USS Missouri, the crew have lured the last spaceship into shallow water where it can't move well. After Hopper Black and Sensei snipe the hell out of the spaceship's tiny windshield, blinding the aliens inside with the power of...the sun, the Missouri blows the fucker to kingdom come with a barrage of artillery at point blank range, saving one last shell for the mountainside with all the satellite dishes on it. The forcefield down and the spaceships destroyed, the crew thinks things are all hunky-dory and fire the bomb at the dish array, which detonates, killing all of the aliens. When suddenly, because everybody forgot it existed, the tower in the ocean launched another Destructoball at the Missouri. Hopper Black and Sensei exchange pleasantries while certain death bears down on them, but a jet from one of the ships that was outside the barrier (admiral chief doge commander'd by Admiral Chief Doge Commander) blew it up and the USS Missouri and all of the precious Old People and disposable cast within survived, presumably because it would have cost too much to CGI the destruction of a priceless national treasure.

The alien threat gone and the characters we were convinced matter alive, everyone receives high decorations from the Navy, Hopper Black proposes to Girlfriend (with Admiral Chief Doge Commander's blessing), and everybody seems to forget they were just invaded by a hostile alien force and they survived because of some old people and a board game. Credits roll.

Honestly, if this had been a comedy or at least a campy action parody, it would have been okay. The Old People scene would have been genuinely funny instead of just sad, the entire movie would have had an excuse to be a shitpile, and the opening scene (set in 2005) wherein Hopper Black breaks into a gas station to retrieve a microwavable chicken burrito for Girlfriend would feel like it actually fits. But, unfortunately, it wasn't a campy comedy. It was almost breathtaking how seriously Battleship took itself, which was what made it both a massive shitstain and the greatest movie I've ever seen.

And that's...that's it. That is Battleship. I can't actually say anything else about it, because really, I went on a tangent about everything worth talking about already. Just, all I can say is see this movie. See it while it's still in theatres. You may hate yourself for it, you may hate me for it, you may begin to hate everyone in it, everyone involved with it, and everyone around you. You may begin to just hate everybody. But that's okay. Because what you witnessed was the bad movie of the decade. A movie this bad doesn't just get filmed like you film more Tyler Perry movies or whatever. This is a big fucking deal. How big of a deal is it? When I buy this on DVD (because I am), it is going at the top of my bad movie collection, right with Kindergarten Cop, Robo Vampire, The Wicker Man, and Con Air. It's that kind of movie.

Overall, I'd rate Battleship a (generous) 2/10 on the Actual Quality Scale, but a 14/10 on the Irony Index. Ratings like that are hard to come by, so if you're a lover of ironic cinema, be sure to catch it while you can. I imagine if you wait a bit it'll be in the $3 DVD Bin at Best Buy (where I do most of my DVD shopping).

I can't really think of a good way to end this, so here's a disturbing picture that kept coming up in my Google searches.

You're welcome.