"We can't see the ships!"
"Here, we can use tsunami buoys to see water displacement!"
"Good thinking! It makes a grid!"
"Wow, it does make a grid! Look at that!"
"Does it feel familiar?"
"It feels VERY familiar!?"
"I can't place it?"
"Well. What should we do?"
"Fire at D8?"
"This is exactly like that board game!"
"Oh, whoa. Who would have thought this could happen in real life?"
Okay, that isn't exactly how the scene goes. The characters in the film aren't meta enough for them to recognize what's going on (although the creators obviously get what's going on). But the whole buoys forming grid thing, yeah. That felt forced to me.
So the plot is, I would argue, sort of ridiculous. The fact that the alien ships hop and skip along the water, rather than, say, flying, or...floating, is strange to me and one of those things that I can't really suspend disbelief on.
Yeah, I don't think Battleship is a good movie. But, that depends on what kind of movie we're talking about...
Director: Peter Berg
Thought he was good: Taylor Kitsch
I always think he's trying really hard rather than just being good: Alexander Skarsgard
Sure: Liam Neeson
Hera, Goddess of Beauty: Brooklyn Decker
I think he missed the bicycle kick on purpose: Tadanobu Asano
Barks snark: Rihanna
Lizard lover: Jesse Piemons
Once a Power Ranger, always a Power Ranger: John Tui
"Choke out alien" cross that off the bucket list: Gregory D. Gadson
You should watch him in The Future: Hamish Linklater
Categories within Categories.
That makes sense, right?
For example, books.
If I say "I'm writing a book."
You'll ask, "What kind of book?"
That's because there are a lot of books. Fiction or Non-fiction? Non-fiction? Then is it historical? biographical? cooking? academic?
It's academic? psychology? anthropology? architecture? photography? film?
Oh, it's film? What type of book about film?
etc. etc. etc.
"Yeah, we get it."
Now, most of us think about films in terms of genre. War. Action. Thriller. An Action Thriller that takes place during a War. Romance. Comedy. Romantic Comedy. Drama. Biography. A Biographical Drama. Etc. etc. etc.
That's not what I'm talking about here. Don't think about that.
Think about this:
Artistic Expression. Entertainment. Escapism/Immersion. Honorific/Revelation.
Every film, no matter the genre, falls under one of these planetary genres. (But even these crossover...like the film Hero is Artistic Expression + Immersion + Honorific). And each planetary genre has an intended purpose.
Artistic Expression movies are, I think, pretty obvious. And are usually the result of strong directors. David Lynch films. Stanley Kubrick films. We think of most "foreign" films as artistic. The overall purpose of these films, I would argue, is not just use of film technique and theory but innovation of technique and theory, a byproduct of which is either a "wowing" or "confusing" of the viewer. I would say that, often, these movies are created not for the viewer but for the director--the viewer is supposed to behold the work and admire what's been achieved.
These movies are usually very strong in theme and metaphor. The most popular ones usually involve another planetary genre. Which means Artistic Expression is something that's more often APPLIED to another type of film: There Will Be Blood (Immersion/Revelation). Fight Club (Immersion/Entertainment). Hero (Immersion/Honorific). The Future (Immersion/WTF). Blade Runner (Immersion/Revelation). etc. etc. I think Artistic Expression movies that don't use another planetary genre don't make a lot of sense. I'd give an example, but I can't think of any right now?
Entertainment movies, are, I think, also pretty obvious. In fact, all of the films that fall under these planetary genres are obvious. I'll stop saying it. But a lot of summer movies are like this. Battleship is 33% this. Bruce Almighty. Big Momma's House. The Count of Monte Cristo. Transformers. The Hangover (which is also a lot of Escapism/Immersion). The Smurfs. etc. etc.
The overall purpose of these films is entertaining viewers. Making them laugh and smile and woop and feel victorious. I don't think most tragedies fall under this category, because for a tragedy to really hit you have to be immersed in what's going on. You can still have tragic movies that are entertaining, but...while I'm entertained by parts of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I wouldn't tell someone "That movie was really entertaining!" I'd say "It was good and sad."
I'd say most of the time these movies involve a lot of gimmick. Which is a major problem I have with Michael Bay's take on Transformers. I think he makes them into a gimmick rather than anything else. (Though some could argue that "gimmick and explosion" are Bay's idea of artistic expression). Don't get me wrong, gimmicks are like baseball bats. When used to beat someone over the head, baseball bats are bad. When used to play baseball, they're awesome. I wouldn't put The Artist as Artistic Expression: 100% gimmick.
The superhero movies I don't like I would describe as Entertainment-determined movies: Fantastic Four, Iron Man 2, Daredevil, X-Men, Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand.
My favorite superhero movies I would categorize as Escapism/Immersion. These movies dive you into a world. And that's the difference, I think, between Entertainment movies and Escapism movies.
Entertainment movies are usually concerned about hitting plot points. Their structures are pretty basic and astoundingly obvious. Introduce characters, introduce problems, escalate, some sort of victory, MAJOR PROBLEM!, solve problem and achieve victory. I'm not saying movies in other planetary genres don't do this, but I think they're less obvious about their plot points. Either because the narrative is more complex, or the director overwhelms the viewer.
For example, Avatar. The plot of Avatar is quite basic. But it's not an Entertainment movie because of how IN DEPTH we go into the world of Pandora. We're immersed into the world. Which is why the run-time is so fucking long. (Also Titanic).
And that's what happens in most Escapism movies. We delve into something else, some other life. What's the difference between Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace? The difference between most first films and sequels: one introduces us to a world and a character and explores this world and character; sequels are usually more superficial, and deal with a problem since the characters are already established. Royale shows us the creation of 007 and is establishing a new "style" of Bond (the Daniel Craig bond). The only way I can think to describe Solace is that it just...does things. Notice the difference in running length. Royale is 144 minutes. Solace is 106 minutes.
Now. Running time isn't always the difference. Iron Man is 126 minutes. Iron Man 2 is 125 minutes. What's the difference? The first movie immerses us into the construction of Iron Man. The second movie does a whole bunch of stuff: building up to War Machine, Tony's sick and dying, a romance, Sam Rockell's character, Ivan's plotting to kill Tony, Tony alienating everyone because he's dying. All of this stuff is going on at once. And oy vey. I hated it. The gimmick is: "It's an Iron Man movie!" And that's what happens with most sequels, they become gimmicks based off the hard work of the first film. For Iron Man 2 to become an escapism/immersion film, it'd have to give us something totally new (like the first movie did, and this one doesn't) or increase its run time to give every plot thread its due. (And I guess I'm saying that most Entertainment-only movies are pretty shitty, but that doesn't mean they won't appeal to individual tastes)
Why does The Dark Knight succeed as a sequel? Because it continues to immerse. Batman Begins is obviously a creation story. Which is immersive. The Dark Knight immerses us in the duels between Batman and Joker, and Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent.
Battleship is also 33% Escapism/Immersion because it immerses us in the culture of the Navy.
The purpose of this planetary genre is to make you forget the world around you. To draw you into someone else's life, someone else's world.
In Star Wars the whole "galaxy far, far away" thing could be viewed as a gimmick. But it's merely a detail of the narrative that's going on. Same with lightsabers. And the Force. The film focuses on character dynamics amidst events, rather than driving them along with plot action. Thus we're drawn to the people rather than the events. Which gives events way more power than they'd otherwise have. If Star Wars 4-6 were less character-driven, they'd be ONE movie.
I think most genre-centric movies are Escapism/Immersion films. Horror movies. Action movies. Dramas. Now. I may not always like what I'm diving into. But. Like...Saw. I was immersed in Saw. Saw 2? Eh. Gimmicky due to being derivative--same basic plot devices. Saws 3-7: almost total gimmick/Entertainment. But because there's a larger narrative strung through the movies, they manage to maintain an Escapist/Immersive quality. This is different than the Harry Potter series which managers to change the plot devices in each film so Immersion dominates Entertainment.
What makes Avengers so good? Whedon doesn't focus on the plot points but the characters (like Star Wars). We're immersed into the dynamic of the heroes. In other words, we're watching the Avengers, rather than watching things happen to the Avengers.
And lastly, the Honorific/Revelation planetary genre. This genre focuses on a subject matter and either gives praise to it, displays it objectively, or brings it to task. If these genres were planets, this would be the home of the documentary.
I think it's also an under-utilized planetary genre among wide-release films. Let me clarify this.
Most of our basic sub-genres WERE ONCE Honorifics/Revelations. For instance: Westerns. Kung Fu films. Bank Heists. Cop dramas. Why? Initially, these films provide information on their subject. But, over time, the information becomes more stock. For instance, if you've never seen a western, you're maybe like "Whoa, look at the clothes! And the buildings! Wow, they all get to carry guns! What a dangerous time!" But, by the fifth western, you're like "Yeah. This guy's going to walk into the bar and people will go quiet... Someone will try to fight him..." The western culture becomes familiar. Thus the subject is no longer something fresh. It could still be enjoyable, but it's not new. The films move from Revelatory and Immersive to Entertainment.
Now, you could have a bunch of generic westerns, then have Tombstone or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. These are films are REAL PEOPLE. Albeit dead people. The films are Honorific/Revelation because they provide information on a specific person.
The important thing to note here: once a subject is covered thoroughly, whether it's an abstract (like "presidents") or a specific (like "Nixon"), it loses the Revelatory tag. A generic political thriller is not Revelatory, since it exists in the world of 4032490230 other generic political thrillers--it is Entertainment/Immersion. Though, the caveat to this is the individual. If I've never seen a political thriller before, and know nothing about government, the first political thriller I watch, no matter the movie, will be Revelatory. There could be 100 movies about Richard Nixon. But the order in which an individual views these films determines whether the film is Revelatory. You could watch RN Film A, which is considered, by most, to be shitty, and find it very enlightening. Then you watch RN Film B which repeats everything you learned in Film A, and also provides more information, and is, you think, a better acted/made film. Your opinion of Film A probably lowers (though it could maintain a special place in your heart). If you watch Film B first, then you see Film A, Film A isn't Revelatory at all.
Now, a film can be Honorific without being Revelatory. And it can be Revelatory without being Honorific. Why are they one category then? Because I think most Honorific movies Reveal information the general public wasn't aware of. For instance. Moneyball. How many people knew what went on with the Athletics in 2002? How many knew about Billy Beane? About the "moneyball" method he used? Sabermetrics? Billy Beane is honored, sabermetrics are honored.
The problem with Moneyball, as I've discussed, is that it covers a recent event. And by trying to make certain people look good, it butchers the truth of the situation. The information revealed isn't accurate. And, unfortunately, there aren't other films on this specific topic. People who get a bad impression of Art Howe can't watch Art Howe Movie B where Howe is Honored. And real life Art Howe was understandably upset about his portrayal in the film.
Why will I, for the rest of my life, defend the oft-mocked Battleship and rip apart the Academy Award Nominated Moneyball? Because Moneyball attempted to Honor and Reveal SPECIFIC PEOPLE who are still alive and does this at the expense of other SPECIFIC PEOPLE who are not alive. Battleship Honors and Reveals an ABSTRACT GROUP OF PEOPLE who are still alive and does this at the expense of fictional aliens.
How many MODERN naval films are there? And I don't mean MODERN as in "made in the last two decades". I mean MODERN as in "SET IN THE LAST TWO DECADES"? Can you name one? I can't name one.
Which means Battleship was, for me, Revelatory. And it's most definitely Honorific. Instead of being about "fighting aliens" the film is about "honoring our naval soldiers, present and past, and revealing the integrity and skill and heart with which they serve and fight, not to mention what they sacrifice". And I thought it very successful. A lot of the extras in the film were played by Navy sailors.
And I think this is an under-utilized use of film, Honoring & Revealing Abstract Groups that are Modern and Alive. I think films often focus too much on individual subjects or subjects that are dead. Freedom Writers is nice, Precious is nice (though simultaneously awful), The Blind Side is nice, but they all Honor and Reveal SPECIFIC PEOPLE. When's the last time you saw a movie that was Honoring and Informative about elementary school teachers? Or activists in Philadelphia? Or truck drivers?
The Hurt Locker may not have been totally realistic in its depiction of bomb disarmament/removal, but it did focus on an Abstract Group that's Modern and Alive. Maybe it vacillated on being honorific, was more an objective Reveal, but it covered a topic no other film had.
Best in Show! So it sort of mocks dog show people. But it Reveals what they go through, and is sort of harmless in its mocking--is like a comedic roasting, which is often an Honor. Who watches this movie and doesn't find it at least a LITTLE BIT fascinating?
I didn't see The Company Men because I thought the trailer looked so damn...cheesy. And as though it were BEGGING people who had been through "this sort of thing" to come see it. Reading a synopsis, it seems Revelatory to people who haven't been laid off before, or who don't know people who have been laid off, due to the current recession. But it was marketed to people who had gone through this, and, to them, it doesn't Honor (at least the synopsis doesn't make it seem Honorific, so I could be wrong since I haven't watched the movie), nor does it reveal any new information. Which means that the movie means absolutely nothing to the target audience. It only confirms for them that: yeah, this is shitty, and hard, and life-changing; maybe you'll get out of it?
Battleship may not Reveal anything to a current or former Sailor, but I'm thinking it will sure as hell make the Sailor feel proud. And make those who know a Sailor proud. And for that, I give this movie a thumbs up, despite whatever flaws it has in logic/plot. And I think it is, overall, due to its application, information, use of extras, and what it could teach filmmakers (about the use of Abstract Groups that don't get a lot of attention), a more worthwhile film than Moneyball.
Film as art can be powerful. Film as entertainment can be powerful. Film as escape can be powerful. And Film as honorific or revelation can be powerful. I can think of a lot of powerful Artistic movies. I can think of a lot of powerful Entertainment movies. I can think of a lot of powerful Escapist/Immersion movies. I can think of a lot of powerful Honorific/Revelation movies. But, as I said before, most Honorific/Revelation films are documentaries. How many wide-release films take the time to honor abstract groups who live and exist now? Most films honor specific people: Ghandi, the family who took care of Michael Oher, the 1995 South African rugby team. I don't think there are many non-documentary films that take the time to honor and reveal (some of the realities of) people who are, as we speak, doing a lot of good in the world: trash collectors, family doctors, successful marriage counselors, spiritual leaders, Teach for America people, tech gurus, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.. Is it possible to make narratives out of these professions? I don't know? But I'd certainly like to see people try.
Did I Like It:
Yeah. As something stupid to watch. It wasn't nearly as awful as I thought it was. But, there are a lot of problems. Especially with the scientist. Everything that happens to him we never really see? His partner was killed yet he escaped? What happened? He went to get his radio and there was an alien in the room with him and the alien was looking right at him? Then he's suddenly out the door running? Did the alien let him go? What the fuck happened? Mick and Sam DRIVE to the communication staging ground and wreck the jeep. Did the scientist run all the way over there and get there just in the nick of time to save Mick? Why did he have a change of heart? Did he wait to help Mick or did he get there just then? WHAT HAPPENED?
The aliens put up the force shield. Was the island included in that force field? I didn't think it was. It looked like only the open ocean was covered. And if the shield was created by the alien battleship, and the alien battleship moved, why didn't the force field move? And if the force field did move, why didn't we see this? Or evidence of it? As far as I could tell, Liam Neeson and all his 4830342 ships never moved once, and they were right at the border of the force field.
My big problem is that the whole "convenience store break-in" at the beginning is totally ripping the youtube video which is video surveillance footage of a real robbery! I don't know if this is "Honorific" or plagiarism?
I thought Rihanna was good, actually. I thought the speech about her grandfather was stupid, but I blame that on bad writing. Could she do other roles? No idea. But I thought she was fine for this role.
yadda yadda yadda
What It's Good For:
-honoring Sailors, and those who were served and forever wounded
-actually trying to create a real life situation out of a board game
-you're on a boat
-Liam Neeson's back account
-rolling metal balls of chaos and destruction and scorpion
-I think Taylor Kitsch does a good job
-beating John Carter
-seeing Skarsgard yell and look really stern
-actually tries to create a real life situation out of a board game
-even for an "aliens attacking Earth movie" it seems illogical at times
% Character / % Actor's personality
Skarsgard: 0/0 ...he's an enigma to me. I like him. I just...am perplexed by him
-My favorite superhero movies: The Avengers; Unbreakable; The Dark Knight; X2; Iron Man; The Incredible Hulk; The Crow; Watchmen; The Incredibles; Sky High; RoboCop; TMNT: Secret of the Ooze; TMNT (the CGI one); hopefully the new Spider-Man
-Movies based on board games: Clue; Jumanji
-Movies based on the Navy: Act of Valor; The Caine Mutiny; Tears of the Sun; Top Gun