The Battleship Dilemma

A lot of times, when I talk about my disconnect with modern media (specifically, modern storytelling), it can come across as a dislike of its grimdark nature.  To be sure, I am not generally into gritty stories.  They don’t do a lot for me, though there are one or two that I can enjoy.  Yet I’ll admit that I prefer stories about good guys and that shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones don’t push many of my buttons.  If my only complaint was of a thematic nature, I think it’d be easier to explain.  Furthermore, it’s easy to get sidetracked by discussing morality and whether good characters are “boring” or bad guys more “interesting”, and all of that is worth talking about.  It’s just not what I’m always talking about.

Another element of my disconnect is more nebulous.  There are plenty of movies and books that I love that get little to no respect, and that’s not such a big deal.  Except it happens more and more, and I can’t help but feeling as if I’m out of tune in a deeper way than I can easily explain.

To put it another way, I loved BattleshipSeriously, loved it.  And not in the “It’s okay because it’s cheesy” way.  No, I genuinely think Battleship is a great movie.  One of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years with solid story, acting, direction, and adventure all the way around.

I’m also the guy who liked Green Lantern quite a bit.

And I’m on record as saying that Pacific Rim is a phenomenal film from top to bottom.  More than just a dumb movie where robots punch monsters, it’s actually a very smart movie where robots punch monsters with crackerjack pacing, great characters, and a story that is thematically deeper than most people will ever give it credit for.

I adore Real Steel, which is probably the only boxing movie I can sit through, but is also better and more heartfelt than most people will ever acknowledge.

And, just to add an extra level of controversy, I think both Ghost Rider movies (while neither being more than good) are better than nearly all the Marvel superhero films (which isn’t meant as in insult as I find the Marvel films mostly acceptable still).

This is me.  These are the stories that have spoken to me, that I can actually watch over and over again, and each time I do, I usually find something new to enjoy about them.  There’s no point in denying I’m the odd man out, and that I stand in a very weird place.  I accept that easily enough.  But as a professional writer, I also have to worry about stuff like that sometimes.

And believe me, I do worry about it.

I sometimes wonder if it’s even wise to admit that I loved Battleship.  If someone stumbles across the blog, deciding if they want to buy one of my books, will that admission turn them away?  If I say, without irony, that Battleship is a slambang film with a solid story and worthy character arcs, am I undermining my artistic credibility?  It’s one thing for me to say that Man of Steel or Star Trek: Into Darkness aren’t very good movies.  It’s another to stand beside a much maligned story and say that I not only liked it, but that I think it is far superior to either of those films.

Battleship makes more sense, has a more logical character arc, and just a hell of a lot more heart than anything in Man of Steel.

There, I said it.  It’s on the record, and I’ll live with whatever consequences that come.

I don’t think it needs to be a competition.  It’s perfectly fine for people to love Man of Steel and ridicule Battleship.  It’s all opinion in the end.   But as the guy who stands by Battleship (the only guy who stands by Battleship as far as I can tell) it can be a hell of a lonely place sometimes.  Being a professional writer who strives to understand stories and why people like them makes it scarier too.

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,



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  1. Rie
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t seen Battleship, but if you liked it, I will give it a shot if the opportunity arises. 🙂

  2. Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    If Shakespeare had written a giant robot vs. giant aliens movie it would have been Pacific Rim. I think it’s that good.

  3. Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I loved Battleship too! I struggle (A LOT) with figuring out the tastes of the masses. I don’t like “dark”, so forget every Batman after Michael Keaton. I am completely baffled by fascination with vampires and zombies. And I wrote fantasy without dragons, unicorns, or magic. What was I THINKING? I didn’t love Green Lantern, but I’d give it an okay and I’d watch it again if it was on Netflix. There are weird folks with weird taste out there, but I bet they hide, because, like me, they’re afraid of being laughed at.

  4. Chad
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    If it makes you feel better, I rented Battleship to entertain my kids and ended up liking it a lot more than them! Much better even than Superman, (or Green Lantern – sorry). It was a solid film with some genuinely awesome moments of action & drama. I liken it to Battle LA, also a much better film than people claimed. I also liked the second Ghost Rider movie. And loved the Thomas Jane Punisher film! Keep waving your freak-flag. We’ll keep reading, (even if we don’t always agree). 🙂

  5. Posted October 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s usually good to separate the art and the artist. I think politics and religion though are more damning factors than whether an author likes a stupid movie.

  6. Kelly
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I am now rewatching Battleship because of this post. I have to say all these oceany monster movies (Cloverfield, Battleship, Pacific Rim, Monsters, etc.) make me hope for a Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove cameo. I have trouble thinking anything compared to Into Darkness isn’t good. Or at least entertaining enough for me to sit through. I couldn’t make it through Into Darkness and I won’t be trying Man of Steel possibly ever.

  7. Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    to be honest i didn’t like battleship but it won’t stop me from enjoying your books. i don’t think its something you really need to worry about. just to make a quick comparison, there are plenty of bands that i like that sight bands that i dislike as a favorite but it doesn’t make me enjoy them any less.
    as long as you keep writing books as good as helen and troy, i will keep reading.

  8. Rodney
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Battleship is a great movie. I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It became one of those movies that I recommended to everyone after seeing it, and only had one of them actually see it.
    And now they love it to.

  9. Shawn
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I like grit and and fluff. Open your mind. Grit can have its rewards. I find it is the state of mind I am in when I watch something that helps in the perception or should I say reception. We gravitate to art that speaks to our id.
    Battleship was a great film. I have seen it many times now. Brooklyn Decker is in this movie and she has a couple of points in her favor, but that is not why I watch this film. It helps though. I watch it because it is a fun movie that pushes all the right buttons without being obvious about its own formula.
    Green Lantern IS obvious about the formula and has flaws because of it. But still a fun feast for the eyes.The entire film should have been in outer space. Reel Steel,fun,fun,fun and way too short for my taste.
    John Carter is in this category as well, good rollicking fun.
    Why are these films panned? Is it because they did not make the right amount of money? Overlooked for sure. Back in the 80’s 38 special was a hit on on radio and REM was underground. Today, who is respected more.
    I think its fine being odd man out, You don’t need to pander to the audience and write or like stories that everyone loves. If someone turns away from reading one of your books because of your opinion, then good, you don’t need closed minded fans or friends. I know your just trying to make a living but your blazing a trail of writing that few others have succeeded at. It is better to be REM than 38 special.

  10. Laredo
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    starts with a chicken burrito…ends with a chicken burrito. Love the randomness

One Trackback

  1. By Review: Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez on October 25, 2013 at 12:01 am

    […] Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads Follow: Website | Twitter | Facebook • A copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Quotes come […]

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