The Navy vs. The Space Beatniks

Battleship: adapted by Jon and Erich Hoeber from the Hasbro board game of the same name; directed by Peter Berg; starring Taylor Kitsch (Lieutenant Alex Hopper), Alexander Skarsgard (Commander Stone Hopper), Rihanna (Petty Officer Cora ‘Weps’ Raikes), Brooklyn Decker (Sam Shane), Tadanobu Asano (Captain Yugi Nagata) and Liam Neeson (Admiral Shane) (2012): Did the makers of a movie based on a board game really have to devote the first thirty minutes to so much rote Hollywood 101 characterization? Because after the opening tedium, Battleship, nominal star Taylor Kitsch’s second $200 million domestic box-office bomb of 2012 (following John Carter) certainly isn’t terrible. Indeed, if forced to choose in some sort of Ludovico Technique pick-em, I’d rather watch it again than Top Gun, a movie with which Battleship shares an awful lot of DNA.

So anyway, an alien fleet invades the Hawaii area and gets up to all sorts of shenanigans. Soon, only a destroyer commanded by angry screw-up Taylor Kitsch stands between the aliens and their attempt to phone home using a Hawaii satellite uplink. If I were imagining a pitch meeting right now, I’d say it’s Top Gun meets E.T. and Transformers. And the aliens all have goatees! They’re like Beatniks!

Like many aliens on television and in movies, they’re also terrible drivers. They have to call collect from a human communications facility because they somehow managed to crash their giant communications starship into Hong Kong, all while failing to properly signal a left-hand turn. Man, movie space debris just loves cities. It never crashes into an ocean or a desert. Always a teeming metropolis. Stupid murderous space debris!!!

Where’s the battleship, you ask? Well, that’s a plot twist you’ll figure out pretty quickly. Suffice it to say that I hope they don’t really keep that much live ammunition on a battleship that’s been turned into a museum. Hey, it’s sorta like the opening miniseries for the Battlestar: Galactica remake! No one actually says “Let’s get this ship into the fight!”, but you know that they want to. OK, the Galactica was in the process of being converted to a museum while the U.S.S. Missouri has been a moored museum at Pearl Harbour for decades. But you get the idea. If aliens invade Port Burwell, I sure hope that submarine has lots of live ammo on-board!!!

Rihanna has third billing in this movie as a Petty Officer who gets to fire off a lot of big guns. Without make-up, she’s really not all that good-looking. So it goes. Kitsch needs to either stop doing blockbuster movies or return to television. He’s a much better actor than he shows here, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with either. Liam Neeson collects a paycheck for a movie he’s only in for the first 20 minutes and the last ten. Model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker fetchingly runs up and down a mountain, her sports bra struggling to control her giant boobs. If there were more full-frontal super-model nudity in these board-game movies, they’d be a lot more awesome. Twister, anyone? Not really recommended.

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