Dir: Peter Berg. USA. 2012. 130mins
Director Peter Berg offers his best Michael Bay impersonation with Battleship, a loud, lengthy blockbuster of mass destruction in which square-jawed American navy personnel do battle with a remorseless alien attack.
There are also echoes of Top Gun and Independence Day and such a shameless swagger to its more risible moments that it almost defies criticism.
Critical disdain for the cheesy dialogue, one-dimensional characters and tearjerking patriotism will do nothing to deter adolescents around the globe from signing up for this hefty slice of mindless spectacle. In box-office terms, Battleship should definitely hit the target.
Inspired, like Transformers, by a Hasbro board game, Battleship is set several years after the discovery of a distant, earth-like planet perfect for sustaining human life. In more earthbound developments, Taylor Kitsch stars as Alex Hopper, a mule-headed misfit bullied into naval service by his straight arrow brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard).
Alex is also smitten with physiotherapist Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) who just happens to be the daughter of stern-faced Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). That pretty much covers the human element of the story as the Hopper brothers set sail for naval manoeuvres in the Pacific at the exact moment vicious extra-terrestrials launch their attack.
Battleship thunders along in an efficient manner, taking an unsophisticated B-movie plot from the 1950s and updating it with an orgy of hi-tech pyrotechnics. There are also echoes of Top Gun and Independence Day and such a shameless swagger to its more risible moments that it almost defies criticism.
There isn’t a creature on either side of the human/alien divide that would encourage you to care about their fate and the actors are largely unchallenged by their roles. Pop singer Rihanna is given little to do in her screen debut as feisty petty officer Raikes and Liam Neeson merely seems to be along for the ride as the commander of the Pacific fleet.
Production companies: Bluegrass Films, Film 44, Hasbro.
Producers: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Duncan Henderson, Bennett Schneir, Scott Stuber
Executive producers: Jonathan Mone, Braden Aftergood
Screenplay: Erich Hoeber, Jan Hoeber
Cinematography: Tobia A. Schliessler
Editors: Colby Parker Jr, Billy Rich, Paul Rubell
Production designer: Neil Spisak
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Main cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker. Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Hamish Linklater, Peter MacNicol