Sinking Quickly

Admittedly, the notion of turning nostalgic, two-player guessing game “Battleship” into a mega-budget alien invasion blockbuster sounded like some joke spawned in the aftermath of last year’s “Rock’em Sock’em Robots” movie.

But fear not. “Hancock” director Peter Berg’s “Battleship” doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously, opting instead for a straight-laced orgy of silly, entertaining action and special effects.

When hard-headed slacker Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch of “John Carter”) is tasered and arrested for breaking and entering after attempting to fetch a burrito for an attractive physical therapist named Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgård) pushes him to enlist in the United States Navy. To add to the ridiculousness, it turns out Shane’s father is the notorious Admiral Shane, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, played by Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, NASA has developed a transmission device after the discovery of a new earth-like planet (“Planet G”), which leads us to the obvious truth that a modern Battleship movie couldn’t possibly settle for a modest “Top Gun”-at-sea war movie. Send in the menacing alien armada!

As the scout alien infantry enters earth’s atmosphere, a recon ship is thrown off course and nearly wipes out Hong Kong. The U.S. and Japan quickly put a half-baked political feud aside in order to fight the alien foe. The aliens’ initial attack leaves the U.S. and Japanese navy in shambles, with Hopper and SS John Paul Jones left to face the aliens, separated from the rest of the fleet by a dome-like force field.


While “Battleship” delivers seemingly non-stop action, the utter lack of character development is difficult to overlook. Barbadian pop-star Rihanna makes her big-screen debut, and seems she can only shoot big guns at aliens and shout brief, mindless exclamations toward her male-dominant cast.


But the extensive CGI battle scenes are impressive. With monumental alien warships reminiscent of Michael Bay’s “Transformers”
and the intricate use of tsunami buoys to detect enemies reflect a decent amount thought. The most memorable moment arrives at the climax of the alien invasion: the U.S. Navy is left shipless and with the last resort of manning a floating battleship museum off the coast of Pearl Harbor.

At its core, however, “Battleship” is dopey, preposterous and unintentionally hilarious in all the wrong places. It’s also explosive and fast paced enough that summer audiences with a high tolerance for stupidity and low expectations will likely find it a worthwhile zone-out. (C)

— Manuel Flores
Contributing Writer

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