Set sail for disappointment in this under-written clunker. Based on Hasbro's quick and fun board game, Battleship concerns a reckless, young Top Gun type without the high-fives, by the name of Alex (Taylor Kitsch) and his straight-laced brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard without the True Blood fangs). Stone, in a desperate attempt to get Alex out of a rut, enlists him in the navy, where Alex will serve alongside himself and Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson in a decidedly effortless role) who also happens to be the father of Alex's love interest Samantha (Brooklyn Decker).
After Alex recklessly breaks into a convenience store and later causes a ruckus on the open seas with a Japanese officer during a testing exercise with the Japanese navy, he is chewed out for his actions and ultimately dismissed by Admiral Shane who knowingly tells him he has potential; remember that line!
Not long after and just before he is told to leave the ship, cue the aliens suddenly invading Earth and the obvious transition for Alex, going from zero to hero and a few more underwhelming plot elements and we have ourselves a summer blockbuster.
Joining Alex is the woefully try-hard tough girl Raikes with some truly terrible lines (Rihanna) and Nagata (Asano Tadanobu, why!) who is initially antagonistic towards, but later accepts Alex.
The aliens themselves arrive because we try to contact distant planets and actually succeed (nice going Earth). The initial pacing of their arrival is handled pretty well and there are some pretty smart allusions to the board game, such as a defined field, enemy missiles tube-like in appearance and pin-pointing certain parts of the ships and later something a lot more obvious to the point of parody.
It unfortunately has to be said however, that given the ridiculous premise of the film, the line 'you sunk my battleship' which is worth the price of admission alone, is not mentioned.
It is worth mentioning however that the bombastic style and
special effects really are top notch. The aliens feel alien, their weaponry not
of this earth, nor their materials and every attack by them is a harsh fusion
of visual and audio aggression that really works, but perhaps one lens flare
There are a few really messy sub-plots happening in the background of this intense armada battle and alien brawl, with Samantha and the scientist who brought this unwilling destruction to Earth, but they are all undercooked and meandering and the jumping from intense action on the high seas to supposed 'tension' with them and the aliens on land as they try to stop them further communicating lets down both sides of the story.
Throughout the ordeal Alex improves his skills and when he enters hero phase there are some truly memorably silly moments, in particular the penultimate scenes where they get a new crew with whole new catch phrases that border on complete parody, as you question the intentions of the director. However, as blockbusters go it is no spoiler to say that everything turns out fine, throughout the film the aesthetics of patriotism and product placement is so prevalent that the happy ending serves as an excuse to fist pump the air, get a tattoo of a bald eagle and buy some Coke Zero, and yet these pervasive elements are still toned down in comparison to a Michael Bay picture, so points for that.
Battleship opens EVERYWHERE in Australia today.