Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Battleship


Blockbuster parody or blockbuster disaster? Reviewing Battleship, a megabudget sci-fi spectacular based on a classic board game, Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman argues that it's hard to tell: 

The only reasonable way to explain "Battleship" is that it is actually a deft and subtle satire of the big-budget Hollywood action blockbuster, an exaggerated reflection of the form's worst tendencies and a sly test of its theoretical limits. How else to justify its lazy conceptual gimmickry, cynical deployment of meaningless cliches, spastic narrative, visual incoherence and indifferent boredom with itself?

I say that this is the only reasonable interpretation of the movie because the alternative — that director Peter Berg is not kidding, that this cannon blast of formulaic ineptitude is in fact meant to be enjoyed straightforwardly as entertainment — is simply too depressing to ponder.

Taken as satire, however, "Battleship" is a work of subversive sophistication that exposes the emptiness of the modern summer action film.

There's the kitschy clunkiness of the dialogue, a brain-melting blend of substance-free sloganeering and impenetrable expository technobabble, and the hyperactive editing and camera work that might have future medical use as a migraine simulator. There's also the story, which appears to have been duct-taped together from the unused leftovers of a slew of older blockbusters, and the drooling fetishization of military hardware, which makes "Transformers" and "Armaggedon" director Michael Bay's oeuvre look positively anti-war.

And there's the movie's subtle, self-referencing symbolism.

Read the whole thing at The Washington Times