Pop stars suck as movie stars.
That’s the legend. Put the biggest rapper or the baddest MC or that breakout Brit bubblegum boy-band in a movie, with a script in their fist instead of a mic, and watch all that street-cred and sheer star-power turn to a cheddar bomb with a big, big bang.
From Madonna to the Spice Girls and from Eminem to Elvis, the landscape is littered with the corpses of dancefloor divas and teen idol singers and master-rappers and rock stars who tried to conquer Hollywood and make it as actors.
The latest superstar to step on the Tinseltown trap-door is Rihanna in the movie Battleship.
Does the saucy RiRi and one of the planet’s biggest pop stars rip it up, as a screen siren?
Because Rihanna doesn’t dance in Battleship.
And Rihanna doesn’t sing.
Rihanna doesn’t wiggle her booty or wear a thong or make shock confessions by fuelling rumors of getting back together with Chris Brown, either.
She wears a sailor suit. She totes a huge-freakin’ bad-ass gun that’s bigger than she is, and smokes alien crews from outer space with a fatal bazooka blast and the farewell line, “Mahalo, mutherfu**er!”
Is it enough to give Rihanna a serious shot at silver-screen superstardom? And is Battleship, based on a kid’s combat game made by Hasbro, even a real movie?
Here’s the bare-bones Battleship story:
Alex and Stone Hopper are combative slacker bros living in Hawaii. On his birthday in a bar, Alex goes coconuts for the drop-dead local girl who drops in while the brothers are busy blasting their brains with whiskey shots. Alex sees the girl’s skimpy T, sees opportunity knocking, steals a chicken burrito from the local mini-mart to impress the girl, winds up in a police stand-off and handcuffs, and instead of being tossed in jail by the cops ends up enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Flash-forward years 7 years. And the broskis are now commanding warships in the U.S. fleet docked in Oahu, where chicken-burrito-chick’s Dad is the Navy’s commanding officer. During war-games, some aliens from a human-hating dimension decide it’s time to land and launch an invasion of Earth, beginning with the Hawaiian Islands. Soon, half the fleet’s been dicked-with and destroyed and the brothers are up to their battleship butts in a dogfight against E.T.’s at sea.
Meanwhile, the hottie daughter’s hot-footing around Oahu trying to save a double-amputee Army vet trapped on a mountaintop, where the aliens have set up communications to the Mothership. An even larger invasion looms. What do the aliens want? And how to stop these predator pot-shotters from enslaving Planet Earth, when the last ship left at sea is a 70-year-old banged-up battleship that’s been turned into a mothballed museum?
(Breathe now. It’s okay to breathe.)
Believe it or not, the mind-boggling bogusness of Battleship has a big squishy heart. You care about these characters. And the actors along for the ride on this boat kick lots of extraterrestrial butt.
Taylor Kitsch, the hunka-hunka he-man from John Carter, plays Alex stoner-lite, like he believes being a Navy destroyer commander is the ultra-coolest job in the world. His big brother Stone is played by Alexander Skarsgård, while Brooklyn Decker, an American fashion model famous for being the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover-girl, is the commander’s daughter, showing plenty of sass, a fantasy-girl figure that’s total overkill, and the shortest-shorts in U.S. Naval history. Liam Neeson rocks the freakin’ boat as Admiral Shane, commander of the fleet.
Oh: And Rihanna is Gunner’s Mate Second Class Cora “Weps” Raikes. Conquering the pop world’s a cinch, compared to conquering an easily-bored-outta-their-skulls movie audience. But in Battleship, Rihanna’s no joke. She juggles both the humor and the bad-assness of the role like she’s saying, “Fu** yeah, this acting biz? Piece o’ cake, yo.”
The cast also includes a cockeyed crew of old-fart actors, playing old-school sailors who come out of retirement to lead a riotous revenge mission against the aliens, when all hope seems lost. At the multiplex where I saw Battleship, a similar posse of old farts were seated up in front, whooping it up and hollering sh** at the screen every time one of the senior-citizen seamen saved the day or told the aliens to stick it.
Rihanna’s “Mahalo, MF!” line made the geezers bust out in crazy-ass hysterics and toss their popcorn in the air like elderly frat-boys. Either their popcorn was spiked, or Rihanna’s dealing the singers-suck-in Hollywood legend a fatal blow.
So maybe Rihanna’s got a shot at this gig in Tinsel Town. Making the kids in Brixton, Brooklyn, and Bangkok go wild for your act is one thing.
But making an audience of old farts go wild too?
Now that’s some motherfu**ing magic!
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