I had this dog barmy dream last night that Pearl Harbour happened again except instead of kamikazes, there was an alien forcefield in the middle of the Pacific Ocean trying to destroy the world (the Hong Kong skyline really got it for a change in my dream) and nobody was quite sure why but as Earth was under attack, the American Navy (the David to the aliens’ Goliath) decided to retaliate with their minds (to an extent) and not just their brute force to destroy the enemy using tactics from that boardgame… not Kerplunk, the other one… anyway EVERYTHING BLEW UP EVERYWHERE and it’s all a bit of a haze after that because then I woke u… oh.
The great thing about dreams is this: they happen when you aren’t doing anything better with your time (because you’re asleep) and they’re free. In that respect, dreams are sort of exactly like press film screenings: they usually start at 6.30 (after work but before evening plans – a limbo 90-minute period where people either hang about the pub/Pret, queue to top up their Oyster card, play basket wars in M&S, or go to a gym), they’re free and you bump into a random selection of people from your entire lifespan (including people you’ve never met IRL but they’re off the telly), exactly like in a dream.
Last night was no different. My time at the Battleshit (oops, typo) press screening was thus: I walked into the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, I sat down, I dozed off for a couple of hours and the memory neurons in my brain took a little trip down to Hollywood’s Collective Action Lot making a megamix mess out of such bombastic epics as Pearl Harbour, Jurassic Park, Armageddon and Space Cowboys (it all goes a bit Sailor Geriatric towards the end but I won’t spoil that bit for you). At one point I bumped into my boss, then I saw that woman off The Review Show, someone I went to uni with, and – I think – Al Murray. Yes, my night watching Battleship was like a dream.
In preparation for BBC Film 2012, let me start by saying this Claudia Winkleman: that is not how I play Battleship. Also, aside from the racist/disabled people jokes and the awful script, Battleship is quite bad. Not even good bad, but bad/dreadful/”did that just happen because I thought humans had brains” bad. When I tweeted that Rihanna “gave good Vasquez”, I was being nice. (Though Rihanna’s performance was not entirely dreadful, she took to acting like, well, an alien to high seas – put that on a poster and sell it). Actually, Rihanna is believable enough that she could be in the Navy (whatever that entails) if she wasn’t a singer. She says things like “That is weird”, “WOT THA HELL IS THAT?”, “Boom” and… “BOOM!” very well. She has the physique to run down a corridor, the voice to hum a bit while driving a speedboat, she believes her father predicted aliens would come (huh? what?), and she wears sailor tattoos as well as her own other tattoos. But surely what Battleship didn’t quite appreciate was that Rihanna can do both: “singing” and “acting”. In a film that ignored all rules, rationale and lines drawn for when things might have gone a little too Lost In Space, you really do feel it’s a missed opportunity when Rihanna at no point straddles a massive cannon and starts singing “COME HERE RUDE BUOY BUOY, CAN I BLOW YOU UP?!” or “SOS PLEASE/SOMEONE HELP ME” (lyrics unchanged) or “CHEERS TO THE FREAKIN’ WEEKEND’ (I SINK TO THAT)” or “YOU DA (FOXTROT) ONE” or… “SHUT UP AND DRIVE (THIS BOAT)”. (Put in a couple of costume changes and that’s nearly 90 minutes right there). What else? While most ships went BOOM, some of them did go WHOOMPH.
Look, there was no plot, there was no point, the aliens had no depth (why would they? they’re aliens), there was no connection to the boardgame nobody’s played since 1995, there was no reason (SPOILER ALERT) to bring the USS Missouri (as in the battleship from actual Pearl Harbour) out of retirement, there was little logic to using (probably Fox News) footage of the London riots/Obama, there was just no need. But as one naval lieutenant commanding officer says to another naval lieutenant commanding general officer before the shit that wasn’t real gets even less real: “If you can’t do it… WHO CAN?!” Exactly, I think. Director Peter Berg dreamed a dream and so did Susan Boyle and we are living in a world now where craziness happens because people want it to happen. Really, you should come out of Battleship inspired by the realm of possibility. Everyone had a good time. Liam Neeson doesn’t care, Taylor Kitsch won’t be acting for long, Brooklyn Decker isn’t even an actress (though she straddles her fiance on the beach quite convincingly) and Rihanna won a holiday to Hawaii.
Would I pay to see this film? Well, no. But if someone (like a date or a mum or something, I don’t know, use your imagination) wants to take you to see Battleship and you have nothing to do at that time (you won’t be sleeping or hungry and you’ve already taken the bins out and it’s Orange Wednesday and all the pubs are shut and Homeland/Mad Men/Game Of Thrones/The Voice are all things you’ve caught up on and you don’t even need to pop out for milk) then GO. You’d be mad not to (unless you’re actually mad/Peter Berg and could create Battleship in your own mind without leaving the house). Because two hours spent when you’ve got bugger else to do watching Battleship for free is like a dream. And you can Roger me on that. (Disclaimer: it is atrocious though).
NB: Stay till the end of the credits. There will be a sequel. I imagine it might be called Battleships.