Run RiRi Run
D: Peter Berg
S: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson
Peter Berg’s Battleship, based on the Hasbro game of the same name, is nothing worthy of admiration. But this is a given, since all Hasbro-based films of late (G.I. Joe, Transformers) have been programmed to administer gross amounts of spectacle minus the substance. People who go to see Hasbro films are there to be entertained and not educated. It is for the same reason I’m judging Battleship solely on its entertainment value.
The story isn’t exactly new. It begins with a laborious introduction to brothers Alex and Stone Hopper (Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard). Alex is a sleazy bum with untapped tactical warfare genius, while Stone is a respected navy officer moonlighting as his nanny. After a dizzying turn of events involving a scantily clad girl at a bar and a microwaveable chicken burrito, Alex finds himself serving at sea with his brother. During one of their military exercises, five alien ships land on Earth with the sole purpose of world domination.
If you’ve ever played a game of Battleship, you’d know that there’s nothing more to it than attempting to sink all of your opponent’s five ships. So how does one fill in two hours of screen time using that without boring the audience? The answer: Rihanna.
We all know she’s no pushover. That’s what being Chris Brown’s ex-punching bag does to your reputation. But as Raikes, the officer in charge of the ship’s big guns, she gets to show off a bit of her tenacity. How often do we get to hear RiRi say “Mahalo, motherfucker!” with so much swagger? Despite her menial acting skills, every moment with her on screen is precious. In one scene, she’s subtly sampling one of her songs; in another, she’s blowing stuff up while leaving us profound one-liners like “Boom!” The girl also flaunts her physique, with a good portion of the film devoted to her running… and running… and running. RiRi does a lot of it while squinting, launching missiles, and dodging aliens along the way.
Taylor Kitsch also does his fair share of action. Although he makes up for his dismal acting in John Carter, he still gets handed the short end of the stick in Battleship. Sadly, the writers didn’t give him a character with a solid back story to work with. There isn’t much depth and growth in Alex to make people latch on to him. Thankfully, we have RiRi and other colorful supporting characters to cover that.
Although Battleship is no different from its Hasbro-inspired brothers in plot depth, it does provide a few very amusing surprises that set it apart. To reveal them here would rob the film of its amusing saving graces. Of course, there’s also its visual effects, alien crafts, and character designs that make Battleship a watchable popcorn flick.