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Entries in Battleship [2012] (1)

Sunday
May202012

Battleship (2012)

You are the Puppet People

I am wholly uninspired right now. Everything you've heard about Battleship is true: it's loud, it's dumb, it's way too long, and, yes, it feels like something Michael Bay would have done, following a debilitating stroke. The problem is, criticising this movie is so easy that I can't take any joy in it. There's no point in coming up with cute ways to describe Taylor Kitsch's steely-eyed-growl-acting or special effects that could have been lifted directly from twenty other movies of the last half-decade. Every excruciating moment speaks unintelligibly for itself, then flips us the bird, and passes out.

All I got out of Battleship was the knowledge that the millions of people who've already made this a global financial success likely have no idea how deeply and effectively they're being duped. It's easy to say that this is precisely the kind of movie that can be enjoyed only by turning off your brain, but if you go in fully engaged, you'll find a riveting, sinister agenda at play.

Follow me on this one:

During the week of May 1st, 2011, why did the Obama administration's story about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden change several times? This alleged powerhouse of messaging savvy and social-media prowess couldn't develop a coherent narrative about the terrorist mastermind's final moments. In one version, Seal Team Six faced fierce, armed opposition in the Abottabad compound. In another, they only had to take out one guy quietly before gaining access to the head honcho. Said honcho also used one of his wives as a human shield--until he didn't.

There's also the sticky matter of no photographic or video evidence being made public. One would think that the nation who coined the term "torture porn" and gave birth to eighty-three CSI spin-offs would be able to stomach a picture of the new century's greatest criminal with a bullet in his eye. But, no, all we have is the word of the President that Bin Laden was buried at sea, in observance of Muslim Law (except that Muslim Law doesn't call for burial at sea unless the person being buried...um, died at sea).

As for the compound-raid video--you know, the one that Obama, Biden, and Clinton were apparently watching with a mix of intrigue and horror on the night of the killing--that's problematic, too. You see, CIA director Leon Panetta said that there was a twenty-five minute black-out during the juicy bits, and no one knew that the target had been killed until the code word "Geronimo" came over the radio.

Not to worry, though: we have that great surveillance photo of Bin Laden in the compound. You know the one I'm talking about, right? It's a rear angle shot of a man wearing bundles of clothing and a head wrap watching TV. Apparently this man never moved, which is the only reason I can think of that there are no photos of him walking back to his chair after adjusting the cords in that surge protector.

You might call these conspiracy theories. They're not. They're just little bits of information gathered from various places that make me go "Hmmm."* I'm not suggesting that anyone covered anything up, although if one were interested in building a case, these facts might lead to far weightier questions.

What's the point of all this? Has Kicking the Seat turned into a political activism Web site? No. I'm still the same snarky, off-his-rocker movie buff I've always been, but I have outside interests, too. And many of them popped into my head during Battleship--a movie with absolutely nothing in its head.

I take that back. Director Peter Berg and co-writers Erich and Jon Hoeber have created the greatest piece of military propaganda since Act of Valor--only this time it's the regular Navy coming for our young, instead of just the SEALs. Much like the puzzling Marine Corps recruitment commercials from ten years ago, in which valiant warriors slayed dragons atop the mountains of Hell (or something), Battleship pits the rank and file of our dedicated seamen against an alien invasion. Berg, in particular, takes the "movies as video games" metaphor several steps too far by making his invaders appear as though they stepped out of an unreleased HALO sequel (until they're unmasked, at which point they just look like slightly deformed hipsters).

Before anyone sets foot in the water, though, we're treated to a prologue in which Kitsch, playing a directionless slacker** who wants nothing more in life than to impress a big-breasted, blonde local, is tasered by the police. The moment is played for laughs, and I couldn't help but wonder if this is the next logical step in society's habituation and acceptance of tasing as a way of life when it comes to law enforcement. Remember "Don't tase me, bro" from a few years back? That was hilarious, once it made the late-night talk show rounds and got emblazoned on a million ironic t-shirts. Funny how few media outlets dwelled on the screams of that young man once the volts started flying.

Jesus, I'm off on a tangent again. But that's what it was like watching Battleship--a movie so stupid that my brain had to constantly cycle in fresh thoughts as a defense mechanism against the personality-free, CGI onslaught.

Don't judge me. I'd like to see you make it through the scene where the aliens' force field mysteriously disappears so that the Navy's destroyer can shore up against Hawaii--which is followed by another scene in which everyone's freaking out because they can't get through the aliens' force field. Believe me, you'll be compiling grocery lists and flashing back to potty training, just to get out of this movie alive.

*Special thanks to Lionel for throwing these sticks into my mental back yard and making me chase them.

**I wonder if he'll rise up during Earth's darkest hour to become the champion it really needs?