Friday, 13 April 2012

Targets: a sidebar on the skewed perspectives of "Battleship"

What's truly remarkable about Battleship - other than those effects, which are expensive, and impressive up to a point - is how juvenile the perspective remains throughout. Where Independence Day, its obvious model, had fully-fledged personalities (Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Fierstein) - grown-ups, even - in key roles, Peter Berg's film sticks insistently to a child's-eye view, for the most part doing everything it can to banish anybody over the age of thirty from the frame. When the alien invaders first emerge from beneath the waves to storm the mainland, it's a little-league baseball game (is nothing sacred?) they come to disrupt; when they quit the field to go blow up a nearby flyover, it's only a boy peering out of the sunroof of a car who sees the full extent of the carnage created - the implication being that the adult driving the vehicle couldn't possibly comprehend the awesomeness of the destruction, or wouldn't be wowed or humbled by it, which is the effect the film wants to induce.

Liam Neeson - the sole adult aboard, and the one proper filmstar here, not that that term counts for much after The A-Team and Clash of the Titans - has as much bearing on and relevance to events as Calvin Coolidge (ask your folks, kids); when he's removed from the chain of command by a comms failure - a too-perfect metaphor for what's going on in the American cinema at large - the film begins to assimilate elements of the Star Trek reboot, as TayTay, RiRi and their classmates become the last front between us and total global destruction. This ingrained ageism makes utterly two-faced - and doubly hilarious - the late-in-the-day decision to bring out of dry dock a crew of septuagenarian Navy veterans (played by actual veterans, making one wonder quite what the Navy expects its people to do to get their pensions these days) to assist in the climactic battle, albeit as subordinates to John Carter Of Mars. Well, maybe it's an attempt to get an older, more patriotic audience to hand over their dollars and help cover the film's considerable marketing spend - but, frankly, my thirtysomething eardrums were beginning to give up the ghost after half an hour of Battleship; I don't think it's too contentious to suggest even those who survived hearing the bombs raining on Pearl Harbor might struggle to stay the course.

Battleship is in cinemas nationwide.

No comments:

Post a Comment