Just like Biff didn't know what the hell he was talking about when he said the line from Back to the Future 2 that inspired my article title, the filmmakers who made Battleship thought they knew what they were doing, but to quote old Biff, "You should like a damn fool when you say it wrong."
I’m not much of a sailor, but I’m relatively certain that a ship full of holes won’t stay afloat. In my opinion, the exact same concept is transferable to cinema. A film full of plot holes rarely ends well. In the case of the new Peter Berg action flick Battleship it’s not the invading aliens that are punching holes below the waterline, it’s the terrible writing.
I completely understand and can really enjoy movies that just for fun. Some of my favorite films, particularly from my childhood, are by all rights terrible. I've been enjoying George of the Jungle which has been on HBO a couple times recently. George of the Jungle is a fairly terrible movie, but I love the hell out of it. The best way to qualify as escapism entertainment is to not have the viewer question what is happening on screen, but rather just be amazed by it. Unfortunately, this is where Battleship falls apart.
After the success of Transformers, another film based on Hasbro toys, making a Battleship movie seems like a money grab from the get-go. The first ten minutes of this film are legitimately interesting, and provide a very solid foundation. It’s after the plot and character set up that this movie begins to founder. The action and spectacle are enjoyable, and it’s a very nice change of pace to see the Navy featured, and honored, in a modern blockbuster - a space that most frequently pays homage to veterans on the ground. That being said the film does not hold together in light of the many oversights in writing that the filmmakers either didn’t think of, or worse expected audiences not to notice or care.
One of the worst bits in the entire film is the weapons that the aliens use. Think about it like this - the alien civilization that invades earth has spaceships that can travel between different galaxies. They land, and establish a foothold by projecting a completely impassable energy field. Then they attack the navy ships with what are essentially really, really fancy grenades. They lob these explosive into the air for just long enough that the ships can shoot most of them down, they then penetrate the ships hull and blow up. If you have interstellar travel and energy shields, you don't have the aliens use ballistic weapons. It's be basically like having a TIE Fighter use a minigun.
If a film like Inception, which will stress the mind of even the most devoted movie buff, can be a critical and financial hit, then Battleship has no excuse for not making a believable story. It’s not all that surprising really; a film about the U.S. Navy fighting an advanced alien civilization that has ships that can travel through interstellar space, but need to fight on water is bound to sink.
Did you go see Battleship, or did you just see The Avengers again?