If Battleship wasn’t as terrible as expected, it’s most probably because what was expected was a glaring, gigantic miss. And, by far and large, Battleship does miss; it just doesn’t miss as horrendously as it could have.
Take, for instance, the opening scene in which Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) tries to impress a girl at a bar by finding her a burrito in five minutes after the bar’s kitchen has closed down. He ends up robbing a convenient store in a manner that is actually pretty funny. If the whole movie had gone like this and not treated the subject (an alien invasion…on water only, I mean, what?) as seriously as it did, the film may have worked out better. A little tongue-in-cheek goes a long way. But for all that, the rest of the movie failed to deliver on what tiny shred of potential from the opening scene.
However, the end of that same opening scene is indicative of the entire movie: instead of being prosecuted for robbing a convenient store or, at least, spending the night in jail (okay, he did leave money on the counter…and a lot of damage to shelves and the ceiling), Hopper is told by his older, wiser brother that in order to gain responsibility for himself and for others he, Hopper, is going to join the Navy. So Hopper does what older brother – who is also (surprise!) in the Navy – asks. A year goes by and Hopper is a lieutenant? Oh, and the girl he robbed a convenient store to get a burrito for? Yeah, she’s the Admiral’s daughter…and they’re engaged. The point is: everybody gets off easy in Battleship; no one has to face the consequences of their actions.
There are some really hilarious-but-probably-not-on-purpose scenes: incorporating the board game into the movie was outlandish, the aliens were your run-of-the-mill lizard-like folk (and if this had been full-on tongue-in-cheek B-movie zone, I would’ve been fine with that), the way the explosions blow you up one way then draw back and blow you up the other, and the ridiculous side story involving Hopper’s fiance (who is totally forgettable as a character, by the way, and thus I have no idea what her name is – not that Hopper isn’t either, but it’s so close to Topper from Hot Shots! I can’t not remember it) and a wounded vet.
And yet. Despite all of Battleship’s typical Hollywoodness, despite the fact that it reminded me of 2012 and Transformers and everything that is bad in action movies, I still kind of had a good time. If, for no other reason, because I could laugh.