Friday, May 18, 2012
The least legitimate movie ... ever?
The other day I attended a Mother's Day appreciation get-together at my son's daycare. The women who run the daycare had been working "with" the kids all week on crafts for the mothers (the kids' contributions were debatable, but the quality of the crafts was excellent, so I'll take the tradeoff). Then they had us for snacks, drinks and presentation of the crafts to the mothers.
We're relatively new to the daycare (my son started last summer), and we hadn't really met any of the other parents. As it turns out, some of them know each other rather well, and two of the couples had actually been together to the premiere of Battleship the night before. I never found out how they were invited, but one of them joked to another "Did you go to the after party at Rihanna's house?"
I had to ask about the movie. I asked, innocently, whether it was good, even though I knew there was almost no possibility it was.
Even though they presumably had some relationship, however distant, to someone involved with this movie, they felt no need to spread good word of mouth. "Eh, well ... it was like Transformers, except ... even less good than that."
Maybe they would have just hauled off on this movie entirely if they'd known me better.
This has occurred to me for some time: Battleship may just be the most bogus contraption ever assembled for audiences to consume. Let's consider what it has working against it in the legitimacy department:
1) It is an adaptation of a board game. And not a board game with preexisting characters, such as Clue. A board game in which you fire missiles randomly at an open expanse of water, hoping to hit battleships.
2) It's not even about what the board game is about. The board game makes no mention of aliens. Then again, the board game is meant to be a simple pleasure enjoyed simply. Perhaps the fine people at Hasbro always imagined a "backstory" involving aliens.
3) The movie it most resembles is considered one of the most crass examples of moviemaking for the masses we have today. Yet the vibe people have is that Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon seem like Shakespeare's three greatest plays compared to Battleship.
4) The main "original" idea in this movie, and possibly the only creative impulse that really propelled it forward, seems to be those metal balls. You know what I'm talking about. The metal balls with their jagged edges that rip through America's cities, laying waste to everyone and everything in their paths. It's very possible that some stoned writer once thought: "I've got it! Jagged metal balls that rip and roll through cities! Let's make a movie!" And some genius then decided to marry that idea to the adaptation of the Battleship board game.
5) One of the movie's stars (Rihanna) is a hip hop singer in her first acting role.
6) Another of the movie's stars (Liam Neeson) has recently become known as the guy who will take any role that's offered to him. At least he has a sense of humor about it, recently appearing on Saturday Night Live alongside Andy Samberg, who was dressed up as Nicolas Cage for a recurring Weekend Update sketch that makes fun of Cage's movie choices. (Watching this skit was an awesome moment for me, considering how I called it: See this post.)
Is six enough? I'm not sure if I can get to ten. So might as well stop here while we're already on a round enough number (a half-dozen).
Besides, there's only so much about the seeming illegitimacy of Battleship that can be put into words. It's just a feeling that washes over you: This movie is crap. And unlike other movies that are crap, this crap doesn't even have its origins in something someone once thought was cool.
The real loser in this scenario seems to be the board game. I mean, the board game was cool, in a way. I'm not going to say that the movie will tarnish the board game's good name -- let's not go that far. But it was a fun board game that involved some level of strategy and a basic excitement/tension about trying to fend off impending doom. Did I say "was"? Is. This board game will probably fly off shelves once again, which means that it's only a loser in the sense that it is now associated with an inferior piece of cinematic garbage.
However, I can see the disappointment now. "Daddy, this game is fun and all, but where are the aliens?"