Sunday, May 26, 2013

BATTLESHIP: One year later

At the risk of alienating the 50% of my regular readership that consists of serious film connoisseurs (the other half being my wife and mother - hi ladies!), I feel compelled to say a few more words about Battleship, last summer's resounding box office dud from director Peter Berg. In this piece, published last July, I speculated on why it might have been such a failure, while somewhat apologetically admitting that, for what it was worth, I enjoyed the film. At the end of my piece, I remarked that I'd likely end up buying a copy on Blu-ray if I could find it for ten bucks or less. (This price point has nothing to do with my opinion of the film; I'm pretty militant about holding out for good deals on movies, and I've acquired most of the Blu-rays in my collection for $8 to $15.) After nearly a year, this magic threshold was finally passed, and I am now the proud owner of a Battleship Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy combo pack.

Having watched the film again last night, I must say that my opinion of it has changed somewhat over the past year, or rather, my concern about what others might think about my opinion of it has changed. I'm tired of pretending. Let me state for the record that I unashamedly, unreservedly and without irony, love Battleship, and I don't care who knows it. After seeing it for the second time, it has become clear to me that, in its own way, it's a masterpiece. It's a given that American summer movies have come to mean one thing and one thing only: blowing shit up, and Battleship blows its shit up with the best of them while still managing to work on a human scale. I'm not generally a huge fan of CGI, as I think it's overused, and it usually makes movies look more like video games, but while a few of the sequences might have lost a bit of their lustre on the small screen, in general, Battleship's VFX work is stunning.

More than that, though, it's simply a likeable dog of a movie. I went back and reread some of the favorable reviews of the film from other critics (we're in the minority, believe me), and the consensus is that Battleship succeeds (at least in our eyes) by approaching its subject with an earnestness that's often absent from this type of film, and it presents us with characters we can feel great about rooting for in the midst of its apocalyptic fury. Folks, this is a film so big that it requires not one but two AC/DC songs on the soundtrack. It's an enormously loud and bombastic film that wears its heart on its sleeve. It approaches you, hat in hand, smiling its $209 million smile, and kindly asks you to check your logic and, let's face it, your common sense at the door while promising you a hell of a good time if you acquiesce. It's a film that extracts a naturalistic and even appealing performance from Rihanna, a person whose public persona irritates me to no end. It's a film that manages to celebrate the military in an entirely apolitical way, by pitting them against an extraterrestrial threat, which is a stroke of genius in my book, and it makes Battleship perfect for viewing this Memorial Day weekend, especially given the fact that it features real-life veterans, past and present, among its cast. It's a film that, I think, deserves a second chance.

Light 'em up.

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