What Battleship Got Right
Let’s be frank here. Battleship is trash. Or more accurately I suppose I can say it’s schlock. Super-schlocky sci-fi with a dumb story, and uninteresting characters, and lots of melodrama and militaristic hoo-rah, and whatnot. But once it got past those first 30 minutes where it tries futilely to make you care about the asshole main character and everyone else, it’s actually fairly enjoyable schlock. Sometimes you just want to watch some bad sci-fi, you know?
Okay, it doesn’t really make sense, and it certainly isn’t anything related to the board-game, but that was a given from the start. I don’t even know why they tried to tie them together. Yet it did come with a couple of pleasant surprises that I really wasn’t expecting, and they’re part of what helped make it enjoyable, I think. So let’s talk a bit about those.
First off, Rihanna’s character. I don’t know why Rihanna was in this, or Liam Neeson for that matter, but I hope they were both well-compensated for their time. Sure, she was the only girl on the crew that we got to see, but they never made any sort of issue of it. She had the same uniform, she was spoken to the same, treated the same, both by her fellow crew and the film-makers. There weren’t any “you’re good, for a girl” comments, they never made her out to seem any weaker or less of a soldier because she was a woman. She even went toe-to-toe with one of the aliens in power armour, and while she didn’t do well, neither did any of the guys on the ship. She was treated as just another person on the crew, not really superior or inferior to any of the others. She wasn’t forced into the role of Damsel or Bad-Ass-Action-Girl, she was just another sailor.
It probably says something about the current state of movie-making that I’m praising a shit film for treating women like people, and not like they are inherently less, or have to be more, than the men in the film. Even the protagonist’s girlfriend, who is a physical therapist, acquits herself quite well for a non-combatant. She’s never paralysed by fear, and she does what she has to do.
Heck, even when the protagonist asshole says a racist thing to the Japanese captain, doing the ‘all asians are the same’ thing in attributing Sun Tzu to Japan, he is called out on his mistake, and he owns up to it. Apologising and not doing it again, rather than getting overly aggressive in his defence.
The movie even lets the disabled veteran with prosthetics have his moment in the sun as he beats up one of the aliens. I’m sure that could be seen as a token gesture, rather than proper respect for people who have lost limbs, but in the context of how the movie treated everyone else, and how it was pulled off, I thought it was another neat scene.
The movie still fucks up on things, and I’m sure there’s stuff I missed because I didn’t really care about the characters and wasn’t paying that close attention, but I thought it did good things too, and I just wanted to talk a bit about those! Not even critics like being negative all the time.