Battleship is a tragedy, a story of a first contact mission to Earth gone wrong. Told in the tradition of tales like Oedipus and The Misunderstanding, it depicts a race of noble, powerfully advanced aliens who come to Earth to protect it from a potential global disaster starting in Hawaii. Their efforts at saving mankind and bringing it into the fold of the intergalactic community fail miserably when the over-masculine US Navy reacts violently to their peacekeeping efforts under the command of a cruel and vicious acting commander. In the end, the cruel victor of the war is able to procreate with a female, ultimately ensuring the cycle of violence continues another generation.
NASA discovers and transmits a powerful signal to a potentially habitable planet, far away from Earth. Detecting this signal, advanced aliens hear all the tell-tale signs of a society on collapse: lack of organization around resources, over-militarized sovereign states, great wealth disparity in its societies and lack of recognizable technological advancement. Rather than permit Earth society to collapse or even retrograde, they come to Earth with the intention of removing the military (if need be), and instituting a new form of rule which will bring human kind into the galactic fold. They send five ships, which would be enough to at least begin the process, rather than sending their vast armada.
While all the humans portrayed in this movie are in some way by-products of current Earth society and its rotten state none exemplify its primitiveness more than Lieutenant Alex Hopper. A consistent slacker and law-breaker, he is forced into the US Navy not out of grander schemes to be a noble warrior, but rather to save his own skin. Obsessed with sex, especially with his girlfriend (who happens to be the daughter of an Admiral), he is unwilling to stand accountable and enter into a full relationship with her due to a base fear of her father. His brother, who has continually been disappointed with his brother, is left to deliver the news that he will be kicked out of the Navy. Why? He brawled with a soldier from another nation after their loss during their near-primordial game of football. In contrast to the aliens–whose goals are long-term, milennia old, and are deeply wise, he is nothing more than a mote against a sunbeam. But soon, his actions will have repercussions across the stars.
Landing on Earth, their primary communications vessel is destroyed by an orbiting satellite. Now lacking the capability to communicate with the humans, the aliens immediately quarantine their crash zone and begin to assess the situation. But as fate would have it, three US Navy destroyers (crewed by these weak humans) are within their quarantine zone, and react violently to the aliens. With only the deepest regret, the aliens counterattack, for the greater good of humanity; in this exchange Hopper’s brother is killed and his ship is lost with all hands.. Hopper reacts purely on instinct, wishing to attempt to destroy the aliens, and about 3-4 minutes of screen time is devoted to convincing him otherwise, only showing how incredibly primitive and unlearned he is.
The aliens’ technology inadvertently breaks radar and sonar, technologies they themselves have not used for centuries. Utilizing NOAA buoys around Hawaii to locate the alien vessels, they destroy a significant portion of the alien fleet using cleverness adapted only to hatred, violence, destruction. Throughout the movie, the only thing on his mind is his continued failure to live up to the needs of others–his girlfriend, his brother, his fellow soldiers–and as a result acts singularly on the grim work of death. As a result, this anti-hero destroys mankind’s future when he misinterprets the telepathic message of a captured alien: the aliens don’t destroy other planets, only as a last resort when they resist entering the intergalactic community.
The girlfriend (a bland, blonde physical therapist), a psychologically unstable disabled veteran, and a fidgety and ignoble scientist track down the aliens on Hawaii and misinterpret their activities: after having crash landed, and found themselves in literally increasingly hostile waters, the aliens attempt to signal home and bring in reinforcements. What would each of us do, if we landed in a strange place and found powerful soldiers there to great us, and ready to misunderstand our activities? Attempting to delay their activities, their brazen activities buy more time for Hopper to conscript disabled veterans and steal historic US Naval property (namely, the USS Missouri), and destroy the alien mothership in an act of curiously absent nautical physics.
In destroying the mothership, the shield surrounding Hawaii collapses and they are now vulnerable to the full power of the US Navy. Hopper’s second to last act is to destroy the aliens engaged in attempting to contact their homeworld, firing on non-combat technicians and engineers assembling a communications array in-land on Hawaii. Assisting him is the remains of the Navy, who wipe out the the last aliens in a localized attempt of genocide and ethnic cleansing on a galactic scale.
In the conclusion of the movie, Hopper finally asks his girlfriend’s father to marry him, now having the confidence to do so since this intergalactic incident. Perhaps he is thinking that there is only so much time left before the aliens come and wipe out their destructive race? At any rate his procreation with a female means that the cycle of violence will continue for another generation. The congratulations and well-wishes displayed to the victors of the battle seems like gift baskets given to the Serbians after the Bosnian war. In a post-credits scene, an alien hand comes out of a crashed spaceship, implying that perhaps the aliens will at least be able to extract revenge upon the ape-like, primitive Homo sapiens.
(You may ask why I wrote this review like this. Battleship is a farce, a horrible, terrible movie that was the excrement of some Hollywood marketing ass clown. It plays on perhaps the most nationalistic and bro-ish of emotions–veterans, asking your girlfriend’s father to marry you, brotherly/soldierly love, a Fight Club-like masculine disappointment–and at the same time tries to interweave a bland, uncaring romance against an alien invasion. It’s so bro it practically had its cap on backwards and its collar flipped up. I felt that they almost exploited veterans and disabled veterans when they showed their one-dimensional portrayal of US Naval officers and a disabled officer. As I walked out of the movie theater, retching, I realized that it gave you so little details to go on, so little actual story, that it could be completely twisted around and told from a different perspective–logically. A true sign of ineptitude, and I pity the writer who has to speak to the poor sales figures. I hear the writers and director are edging away, slowly, from their abortion of a movie.)