Review: Battleship

Photo Credit: ILM/Universal Pictures
(From left) Beast (JOHN TUI), Hopper (TAYLOR KITSCH) and Raikes (RIHANNA) are stunned by invaders in “Battleship.”

The fancy trailers, cutaways to this massive battle between aliens and naval ships, an attractive cast that literally includes models in Brooklyn Decker and Taylor Kitsch and the ever-impressive presence of Liam Neeson might convince you to take “Battleship” for a spin this weekend.

That idea however, would be a waste of two quality hours you could spend taking in a second or third viewing of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” dusting off the old board game that inspired this wrecked ship or just taking a nap. Either way, it’s bound to be more fun than getting being hammered with mindless action and bored with a by-the-numbers summer popcorn flick that never gets out of the docks of being a remotely entertaining movie. (A7– Hit!)

File “Battleship” the movie under a bad idea that most people considered a bad idea, and it helpfully reaches new depths (D21- Hit!) for a film not even living up to the most meager expectations.

“Battleship” is a messy mishmash of action movie clichés lost at sea (J14-Hit!). We’re asked to care about Alex Hopper (Kitsch, “John Carter”), a goof-off who can’t get himself together. Kitsch makes for a believable slacker, but he deserves a better movie to be the headliner. Between this and the woefully underrated “John Carter’s” lackluster performance at the box office, 2012 has not been a good year for him.

Alex’s Navy captain older brother, Stone (“True Blood’s” Alexander Skarsgard), pulled some strings to get him in the Navy and his girlfriend, Sam (Decker, “Just Go With You”) is crazy about him, but he’s still a screw-up.

Photo Credit: Frank Masi/Universal Studios.
BROOKLYN DECKER as Sam Shane in “Battleship.”
 

And Admiral Shane (Neeson), the head of the Hawaiian naval base and Sam’s father, doesn’t care for him much either.

You’re probably wondering what does this have to do with an alien invasion forcing a big time naval battle where any and everything gets blown up. Turns out a few years ago, some scientists got the bright idea of trying to communicate with life forms beyond Earth. Clearly they’ve never watched any action movie as you know every alien life form wants to destroy humanity. Sigh. Once they arrive, the aliens don’t want to make any new friends and begin destroying anything that could be a potential threat.

Director Peter Berg (“Hancock”) can’t seem to decide if he’s making a serious tribute to the men and women in the Navy — complete with casting veterans in various supporting roles — or a loud, booming spectacle that reduces combat to exhausting scenes of cars, ships, etc. getting destroyed. His sincere tribute efforts are unintentionally laughable, which is unfortunate as he clearly means well, but trying to bring a somber dose of the reality of the price of real combat doesn’t blend well with an otherwise goofy summer movie. Berg does get points for actually incorporating some of the board game “strategy” into the movie. There’s just not much to keep “Battleship” afloat. (H3-Hit! Sorry.)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Nagata (TADANOBU ASANO) and Hopper (TAYLOR KITSCH) man the deck in “Battleship.”
 

The real scalawags are screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber, who write an idiotic script with groan-inducing dialogue. It’s worse when the lines are delivered by pop star Rihanna, who makes her film debut as weapons specialist Raikes. She certainly proves that singing was definitely the right career choice for her.

There’s little suspense that Alex is ever in any danger, and worse, the Hoebers decide to keep changing the rules they spend so much time establishing to help him along the way.

Most mind-boggling is when the alien ships land in the ocean and set up a force field/dome of death that destroys anything that touches it, which is helpfully illustrated when a fighter jet crashes into it and promptly gets blown up. Alex’s ship is among three trapped in the dome, but late in the film when Alex and the gang need to send a missile to the aliens’ makeshift mountain communications base and find a new ship, the dome just conveniently gets written out. If only they could so easily make a good script out of this barnacle-ridden barge. And with that, I’ve just sunk “Battleship.”

Rating: 3 out of 10