starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Tadanobu Asano and Liam Neeson
written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
directed by Peter Berg
I saw Battleship in a downtown Tokyo theater during the spring Golden Week holiday. It was pissing rain outside and I hoped that people would stay home and not go to the movies. But no, my friend and I walked to four theaters before we found a place that had a film we mutually agreed to see, plus seats to seat us. You know, I only see movies in a theater once or twice a year, so I want them to be worthwhile.
I saw the alien movie Battle Los Angeles on the airplane last summer returning to Japanfrom vacation in Canada. Battleshipis kind of like Battle Los Angelesat sea. Or I might also describe it as Transformers at sea. I hate Transformersas I hate any and all movies derived form comic books and cartoons. Battle Los Angeles is a piece of crap, but I had little choice on the airplane. I was trapped. Battleship was really silly but lots of fun.
Battleship was really silly but lots of fun.
As lots in Contact, an alien species retraces human scientists’ broadcast transmissions to deep space. Unlike Contactthe aliens are not benign but maliciously bent on earth conquest, as they are in most alien movies. The movie seems to give such a boost to the U.S.armed forces, especially the navy, that I wondered if the Pentagon funded it or something. There was U.S. military participation no doubt, but the movie was largely funded by the Hasbro toy company, based on its famous Battleship game.
As a story by itself the film is not so good and undeserving of the three stars I give it. But I liked the humor written into it. (My friend, Chris, and I were the only ones in the theater laughing at the jokes.) I also liked the Hasbro game theme that was pursued throughout the movie. Once I recognized all the board game-related elements I thought it was hilarious. That’s why Chris and I were the only ones laughing in the theater. Japanese don’t know the game.
1) The explosive projectiles launched by the alien craft at their human targets were the same shape as the red and white pegs used in the board game to mark hits and misses
on the unseen enemy.
2) Invisibility. In the board game you cannot see your opponents’ disposition of his war craft. That’s the whole point of the game. Using a Cartesian grid you have to guess where your opponent’s ships are and hope that you sink all of her ships before she does the same to you.
3) The Cartesian array. The simple two-axes grid was another trick introduced in the earthlings’ attempt to identify the invisible alien ships’ locations. Radar didn’t work, so they resorted to water displacement (wave action) plotted on a simple grid. Board game!!!!
The whole thing is set in and around Hawaii. As soon as I saw the WWII battleship Missouri, now a floating museum, I knew that the characters were going to sail it out to sea once more to defeat the aliens with its big, old guns and diesel engines. And they did.
Incidentally, Battleship made me think of the Japanese animation Uchu senkan Yamato. The WWII Japanese Imperial Battleship Yamato (the largest, heaviest battleship ship ever built, sunk by the Americans on April 7, 1945) is raised and converted into a space ship for great adventures where no man has gone before. “Senkan”is the Japanese word for “battleship.”