BATTLESHIP, starring Kirk, Spock, and Uhura

Battleship is a fun, entirely ridiculous movie, set in Hawaii, but devoid of Hawaiians, any shots of Honolulu closer than low Earth orbit, a single word of Pidgin, or a hula skirt. It’s like New York City without the buildings, Saudi Arabia without the sand, Mexico without the drug cartels.

On the plus side, Captain Kirk is in it, or rather, Taylor Kitsch playing James T. Kirk playing a fool who could never in a million years be accepted into the U.S. Navy officer corps. I believe he could capture the heart of the blonde bimbo-slash-physical therapist who happens to be the Admiral’s daughter, but there is more chance of you being hit by lightning while buying a winning lottery ticket than there is that the United States Navy would take a man three minutes after he’s been arrested for felony burglary and toss him into OCS. It’s stupid. But it’s not the stupidest thing this movie has to offer.

Spock is also here. He’s called Captain Nagata. Bunches of countries have joined together for a naval warfare exercise, and the Japanese have supplied a number of ships and officers, all of whom speak flawless English, and one of whom, thankfully, learned to shoot an automatic weapon at summer camp during the nineties. I was waiting for the eyebrow lift, the shirt yank, and the word “fascinating.” Those things didn’t happen, but I’m not fooled—it’s obvious the filmmakers said, “Hey, wow, Alternate Reality did so well, let’s set it in Hawaii and see what happens.” Someone should have done a Vulcan death grip on them.

Except here’s the thing. In Star Trek, the villain Nero actually has a reason to fly around the galaxies causing death and destruction. He has reason to target Kirk and Spock individually and specifically. In Battleship, the aliens come to earth (hang on, this is profound), because we called them. Maybe Planet G (kid you not, “G” as in all the Latin names were used up and we didn’t have the guts to call it Romulus, or better yet, Roddenberryensis) had been bombarded for eons with messages from all over the universe. All the G-ians got together and said, “The very next planet that telemarkets us is gonna get it!”

The G-ians have no reason to attack Earth, but they do. And when they rise out of the ocean in their thousands of tons, there’s no water displacement, not a ripple. It turns out that their reason for targeting Hawaii is so they can send a message home. Their communications ship wanted to do a little shopping in Hong Kong before the Chinese take away all the freedoms, but it missed and destroyed the whole city. Now incommunicado, the rest of the giant-transformer-bots-inhabited-by-lizards-who-hate-sunlight destroy the American Navy. In fact, we’d be toast if it weren’t for Captain Spock-Nagata admitting that the Japanese Navy has been tracking us all these years by putting pegs into plastic ships and shouting, “Hit!” or “Miss!” Armed with this information, Kirk and Spock direct Uhura (Rihanna playing Weapons Specialist Raikes) to shoot this, destroy that, blow the head off that one!

Stupidly, when Raikes-Uhura is just about to do a cannon burst at a big scary alien, she shouts, “Mahalo, blankety-blank!” (The “blankety” part is vocalized, and then the “blank!” part is not, to maintain a PG-13 rating. Later on, some old guys do this too, and it has that awkward silly effect of old-person-being-trashy that we are sick of because of Betty White, may she go back to St. Olaf.) The problem here is that Mahalo means “thank you” in Hawaiian, and what she meant to say was, “Aloha, you so-and-so.”

In addition to all these well-loved folks from Star Trek, my nephew is in this movie, or at least someone who looks just like him. You be the judge:

This is not my nephew.
This is:

Yes, yes, Brandon is cuter than the other guy, but I worried the whole time that “Ordy” might die because he kept reminding and reminding me of Brandon.

I still haven’t gotten to the most egregious, ridiculous, beyond-belief nonsense of this very inane movie (which I enjoyed, guffawing at the nonsense clear through, no doubt irritating the people behind me, who, I’m imagining have not been to Hawaii. At one point, I was crying with laughter, literally wiping my eyes, see below about Monsters, Incorporated.).

(No, you don’t get to say, “But you lived there! Of course you know these things!” because if you’re going to make a movie about Hawaii, you should know a little bit about Hawaii. Like that people live there, that Honolulu is a major city, and ….. but now I’m coming to it, so hold on.)

The people who made this movie forgot that Oahu is crawling with ten zillion military men and women. (Writer stops to remember fondly not being able to move, breathe, or speak a single word without hearing wolf whistles from desperate, homesick sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen, and that was in the public library.) Battleship ignores the fact that lots of ships are always at Pearl Harbor (did I mention there are zero shots of Pearl?), and while K-Bay is blasted to bits on the Windward side (gorgeous views of the Ko’olaus), there are thousands of soldiers at Scofield in Wahiawa and thousands of airmen at Hickam. There are planes out the ying-yang, not to mention that a three-year-old knows these bases have contingency plans for surprise attack and the ordnance to back it up.

It’s also well-known—or at least well-rumored—that Diamond Head is home to some high-tech toys of its own. Plus (the “pluses” could be unending, believe me) the siren doesn’t go off. Yes, that siren, the one that interrupts class once a month (I think it’s on Thursdays) just when the teacher is getting to the most fascinating part of her lecture, and is so loud everything stops and everyone sits back in his chair and the whole lecture is ruined. This siren is known to everyone in Hawaii except the people who made this movie, and that’s why no one on H-1 has any indication that anything is wrong until the freeway collapses beneath them and they all run off to have plate lunch at Keneke’s or shaved ice at Aoki’s (why wait in the line at Matsumoto’s when Aoki’s is a block away and just as good?).

Also forgotten are the nuclear submarines based at Pearl, none of which is mentioned. (Here’s a picture of the USS San Francisco. My brother-in-law was the executive officer on this nuclear sub–yes, he interviewed with Admiral Rickover–happily, not in the year it ran aground.)

I want to go back to the idea that a guy can be a drunken sot, vandalize and burglarize a grocery store, be let off without any punishment of any kind and be immediately accepted as a Navy officer, complete all the training, and be instantly stationed back at home in Hawaii (where his brother also serves) where the Admiral who loathes him makes no move to have him transferred to guard duty at Gitmo, but allows him to continue to date his beautiful college-educated daughter who apparently can’t find a decent guy among the teeming mass of desperate girl-hungry officers on Oahu.

The truth about this guy is that he’d be tossed into jail, put through an excruciatingly long criminal process because of the backlog of crystal meth cases, and then be sent to some mainland prison in New Mexico where he’d be complaining about how hot it gets and why the heck doesn’t Cheeseburgers in Paradise deliver? He’d never ever ever get into the Navy. Maybe he could be a grunt in the Army, but I’m only guessing. Used to be, the judge would say, “It’s the slammer or the Army, son!” but I understand character and a high school diploma are now required. (Speaking of diplomas, Hopper must have a University one if he wants to be an officer, but we don’t get that info.)

The idea that Kirk-Hopper could advance to the level he does is a slander and a scandal against the United States Navy and all the officers therein. I can’t seem to shake this. No doubt they were harking back to the bar scene in Star Trek where Kirk gets all felonious, has the stupid knocked out of him, and lands on his back with his face busted up and Captain Pike looking down at him thinking, “Testosterone; that’s what the Federation needs.” The problem with pulling it straight across is that while we already love Jame T. Kirk, this Hopper kid is just one more alcoholic felon. Plus, his dad didn’t save eight hundred men in twelve minutes.

Plus—and this is important—Hopper is all about the girl, while one of the reasons we love Kirk is that, although he dabbles with women and professes to love particular women while all along being sweet on all women in general—Kirk’s true and only real love is the Enterprise. Hopper’s just smarmy. And though Liam Neeson as Commander, Pacific Command, is fine as Captain Pike, he’s not Captain Pike. You cannot imagine him saying, “I am relieved,” were Hopper to replace him. In fact, even when Hopper saves the world, the Admiral can barely manage friendliness.

(Again, don’t blame me for comparing these two movies. It’s obvious someone had a brainstorming session thus: Let’s make a movie! Sure, like Star Trek! Only in the Ocean! With boats instead of starships! With a Japanese man instead of a Vulcan! We need a black girl! I know….RIHANNA! She’s used to getting beat up!)

Now, I know this is getting long, but—and please, forgive me—I have to take issue with the absolute balderdash of the foolish idea that the U.S.S. Missouri, which operates in Pearl Harbor as a museum, is fueled and armed for a fight with aliens. Which is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as the idea that the old dudes doing docent duty could deploy her. It’s farcical. I guffawed (with tears!) when the old men come out in slo-mo, because they looked exactly like Randall and Sully and crew entering the Scare Floor before the shift starts (“Eastern Seaboard online!”). And again, this is a scandal—Pearl Harbor is not emptied out every time there are military exercises. The place crawls with sailors, all of whom are willing to defend this country at the loss of life or limb. And if the Mighty Mo was able to be fueled and armed for battle, they would have already had it blasting away at the naughty G-ians long before Hopper got there.

Even battle-scarred, legless Iraqi Freedom veterans do their bit with courage and flat-out turbo-charged physicality to give Earth a chance at One More Day, but strangely, all the active duty soldiers, airmen, and marines have gone AWOL simultaneously, leaving the defense of the Nation to WWII survivors who ought to get out of the way before their dentures fall out and someone slips on them. Move it, Grandpa!

There’s a neat little bit where President Obama appears on a jumbotron and says we’re doing all we can about the situation in Hawaii. I looked for his name in the credits, but didn’t see it. Maybe I missed it, or maybe he doesn’t get credited because he hasn’t paid his SAG dues, speaking of which, when he retires from his current gig, maybe he could do a reverse-Reagan and run the Screen Actors Guild.

And, while he’s out here, he could run for Governor. We have no problem with actors not born in America running our state. (Settle down, it was a joke. I think the birthers are loony tunes.) But, continuing, at least this one would have the sense not to knock up the housekeeper, but there you have it, the Kennedys are an unfortunate lot.

I enjoyed this movie. I laughed a lot. Scribbled furiously: “3 seconds from felon to Lieutenant, entirely skips j.g.!” and “Scofield?” and “Hickam?” and “What about the kahunas?” and “How come everyone is haole?” Really, people. The kahunas would be out in their canoes calling up Pele. If not here, where?

In the end, all the aliens die. Or do they? If you don’t wait until the very very end, after the credits, you’ll never know. And Hopper gets the girl. Or does he? Please, please, don’t make a sequel (“Hit or Ms.” or perhaps “Battleship 2: The Arctic,” in which the nuclear subs do figure, but they’re under the ice cap, so again, we don’t see them. All we see is Liam Neeson battling wolves.).

The good news is: Star Trek 2 has a release day of May 17, 2013. Beam me up.

3 thoughts on “BATTLESHIP, starring Kirk, Spock, and Uhura”

  1. Star Trek 2 will be fun. I noticed Rotten Tomatoes has Battleship in the 30% range. Too bad. Thanks for an excellent review.

  2. Okay, I couldn’t concentrate totally on this review once I got to the shaved ice reference. I’ve waited in line at Matsumoto’s a half dozen times. Where is Aoki’s??

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