For Your Consideration: BATTLESHIP for Best Picture of 2012

Jason Gorber, Featured Critic

We live in a time when winking, snarky, sardonic Cinema has become the norm, when things like subtext and subterfuge gloss over what are more often than not simply action movies gone wrong. We've seen pixels fighting pixels, groups of Avengers not really avenging anything, a rising Dark Knight that some found risible, all while more earnest, straightforward films that go for awesome over allegory are chided as being foolish things.

No film better exemplified "going for awesome" in 2012 than Battleship. Its conceit was simple, its execution often breathtaking. For its level of success was in its very name, like some platonic ideal that through description we achieve ascription. A film of any other name would not be as sweet, in this work we needed but two things to come together, a compound narrative from a compound word:

We needed battles. And we needed ships. We needed, nay the world needed, Battleship.

Peter Berg has made some fine films, and some even garnered critical acclaim. However, from the outset, Battleship was considered mere kitsch, in no small part due to the leading actor's surname. Yet the film shows strokes of pure genius, from finding a way to use a long-obsolete naval vessel in a modern aquatic battle, to finding a way to turn a beloved board game into cinematic gold.

Sure, some scoffed ("What's next, Snakes and Ladders? Candyland? Tetris: The IMAX Experience?"), yet for every guffaw, there was someone, some right-thinking individualist who just wanted a "Summer" movie where things went "Boom!", where actors committed to their parts with gusto, where Academy Award-nominated thesps chewed up the scenery in ways that would make performers like Wayne, Bogart or McQueen proud, playing their parts in a genre film with earnestness and bravado.

Under the veneer of splashy effects there's actually a story worth hearing, a diamond-in-the-rough Campbellian journey that's as mythic as the oldest tales. If there are to be any accolades, we must also applaud that nameless corporate executive, sitting in some development meeting, who came up with the near Nobel-worthy idea of having the projectiles from the aliens be shaped like the pegs from the game.

It's here, dear friends, that this film goes beyond mere entertainment and becomes something...transcendent. For when the coordinates of the grid are read off, and projectiles launch, one hearkens back to a simpler time, when we would pit our naval strategy against that of our sibling, only to have our PT boat taken out in only two shots. This would often lead to pieces being thrown in the air, followed by ferocious temper tantrums and accusations of cheating. This is the stuff of memory, while Battleship the movie is the stuff of legend.

So in a year where more palpable pabulum will get attention, when other "action movies" mask themselves with scintillating politics or not-so-ancient history to gloss over their core mechanisms of effect, we should celebrate the explicit nature, the unabashed and unapologetic chutzpah of a film that dares to be stupid, yet does so with so much intelligence.

And thus, for your consideration, I ask you to find that Battleship was indeed the finest, best picture of 2012.

Around the Internet:
  • Michael Grover

    I found BATTLESHIP to be perfectly satisfying. It scratched an itch I didn't know I had, and it did so with great aplomb. I wrote about it back in July, speculating as to why it bombed so decisively: http://filmiliarity.blogspot.c.... I'd say my opinion of it has only improved with time.

  • Excellent, well done, your fine article echoes sentiments I've said in more detail in other fora.

  • ...you may be interested in this: http://twitchfilm.com/2012/03/... and this http://twitchfilm.com/2012/05/...

  • hater

    Battleship is one of the very worst piles of stinking shit i have ever seen and is 2 hours of my life i will never get back, if i wasn't on a date with my girlfriend i would've walked out of the cinema, it was absalute torture and later found she hated it too! this movie should be avoided at all cost and hurled into the nearest black hole! and how the hell did they get Liam Neeson to act in it? is it in an actors contract that they must star in at least one big budget mindless piece of shit movies? Blaugh! vomit!

  • Ah, but how did it make you... feel?

  • Joe Foolio

    It was mildly amusing when you played this game last year with Fast 5. Unfortunately this joke is now stale and played out. Time to move on fellas.

  • a) I wasn't around for it last year, and this is a way better film that I love without irony, and b) is for BATTLESHIP!

  • seattlejohn449

    just watched it and after an excrutiating 1st half hour of awful, rockbottom character developement the aliens appeared and it became a very enjoyable, well-made film...just read it is nominated for best visual effects with a special effects guild though the opening scene with the drunken pursuit of a burrito automatically degrades it a full point or more in over-all ratings...great visuals, sucky screenwriting...start watching at the 29 minute point and a really good alien invader film

  • He steals a taco. A TACO!!!

  • seattlejohn449

    I just watched it last night and it was a microwave chicken burrito the screenwriters wasted our time with (I've never seen a microwave taco)...you have totally lost any credibility as a writer if you can't get your facts straight since that stupid, nauseating burrito was only mentioned several times...this burrito almost single-handedly just scored BATTLESHIP several RAZZIE nominations which is why I suggested fast-forwarding to the alien action at the 29 minute mark to dispense with that crap

  • No, I know, I just wanted to shout "taco"... It seemed more surreal at the time to argue about clear facts of the narrative regarding foodstuffs... Oh, and the -burrito- part was awesome, but for thieving handheld vittles, clearly he should have stolen a sub...

  • Munzi

    So true... to me BATTLESHIP on top of what you are saying is an ironic and sarcastic take on the typical "MICHAEL BAY" films, but no one got that. It is over kitsch and over the top, but this was from my point a wanted decision by the film makers! It is the same with Starship Troopers. Most thought this is a war film, but in fact it was an intelligent take on an anti war film and an anti-propganda film. the same ist with Battleship. It acutally brings the big budget blockbuster so over the top you have to laugh... and this was so fresh, just because it didn´t take itself seriously at all... and guess what... that is the problem with Avengers and Dark Knight Rises... they did!

  • Dr. Goonzo

    I am relieved that someone else actual understood what Peter Berg was going for! Kudos for being able to read between the lines, unlike Gorber's bizarrely clueless championing. This is the man that directed Very Bad Things!

  • I genuinely think that the film knew exactly what it wanted to be, and did so in a non-winking, non-ironic way, but exhibited the usual amounts of "camp" or "kitch" inherent in such ridiculousness. TOP GUN isn't sarcastic, STARSHIP TROOPERS is, and PEARL HARBOR is oblivious. I think BATTLESHIP is perfect a fine, dumb action movie that knows it's one, and doesn't need to remind the audience that it knows it knows it.

    If the good Doctor thinks that's signs of cluelessness, then I'm assuming he's affiliated with Dr. Colbert's Prescott Pharmaceuticals

  • HasbroHasGottaGo

    There's nothing wrong with irony, but there' s a great deal wrong with product cross promotion as the primary goal in filmmaking. And there's the problem with battleship for ya all wrapped up in a bow. The peg thing? Not clever, just gloating product placement and I can't imagine Joseph Campbell would thrilled to hear that Battleship is now the movie that best represents his storytelling. Also, The Avengers don't have to avenge anything given that's not really the point of a superhero mashup. But, I suppose someone who loves The Phantom Menace would need their titles to be literal and fully explored to appreciate a movie, right? Oh...wait...

  • I bet you Avengers was meant to sell more toys than Battleship ever was, if we're denigrating cross promotion

  • HasbroHasGottaGo

    Well played, but at least there was it all started with mythology that people loved rather than just a toy that needed to be sold. And did you honestly go into the theater expecting avenging? It was always going to be a superhero smack down. Is there a chance that you're just not a comic book guy? Nothing wrong with that. It would just fill in the gaps.

  • Oh, I'm for sure not a comic book guy - it tends to be why my fav films-from-comics tend to be derided by most comic peeps (think TANK GIRL or even WATCHMEN). I by no means hated AVENGERS (as per article), I just was underwhelmed, and particularly annoyed by a few points I articulated. That said, I totally dug THOR, even though it was much later I realized it ripped off the general conceit of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERE (of all movies!).

    At any rate, BATTLESHIP remains good, silly fun, and I'm unironically impressed they managed to overcome significant narrative challenges (ie., it's a fucking boardgame, and there haven't been Battleships active in decades) in order to give us something that goes boom.

  • Pierce Conran

    Sold, watching it right now!

  • Me like it when it go BOOOOM.

  • Cipherpunk

    Avengers wasn´t earnest and straightforward? Unless you focus on the name - which is about name recognition for a fifty-year old property - is there anything convoluted about it?

    Yo0u made me kinda want to watch BATTLESHIP, though.

  • Well, "convoluted" might be harsh, but... http://twitchfilm.com/reviews/...

  • Ben lafleche

    I love reading you Jason, but man, I got no clue what your saying!!!!! There was at least 8 words I had to look in the dictionary!!!! Thank you for making me smarter

  • BATTLESHIP will make you awesomer.

  • LOL

  • [A]

    Nah, it doesn't quite work.

  • LIES!

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