Seth Shostak is Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute in California, and the host of the weekly radio show and podcast “Big Picture Science.”
Join Seth and 50 eminent scientists and sci-fi experts at SETIcon, to be held June 22-24 in Silicon Valley: www.seticon.org.
Battleship is not a film that Francois Truffaut would have made. Nor would any of those other namby-pamby European directors. Nope, this picture eschews that Continental obsession with small stories, set in quaint towns filled with pockmarked folk doing their banal things. Who cares?
No one, not when the fate of the Earth is in question. I’m proud to note that only the American film industry has the guts (not to mention the computer graphics horsepower) to fill the screen with a tale of ill-mannered aliens bent on incinerating the planet.
Consequently, Peter Berg’s film is pleasingly free of pretensions. It doesn’t waste your neural cycles exploring the uncharted labyrinths of the protagonists’ psyches, or anything overly Greek like that. It’s bad guys versus good guys, and the good guys win by being smarter, braver, and, in most cases, better looking.
The plot is exposed even before the main title settles in: NASA has found a planet that’s in the “Goldilocks” zone of its star—which is to say, it’s not too hot and not too cold for liquid water. It’s what astrobiologists would call a habitable world. Having found a possible home for E.T., the space agency beams up a signal that presumably informs any residents that Earthlings are friendly, and our planet is open for business.