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Released: 2012

Directed By: Peter Berg

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard

Certificate: 12A

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Just when you think the Hollywood hotshots couldn’t draw inspiration from a much loved commodity anymore, they conjure up another masterplan to draw the audiences in. We’ve had sequels aplenty, comicbook adaptations at the bucketload but now thanks to Hasbro (Transformers) and Hancock director Peter Berg.. it’s the turn of the boardgames. Attempting to push nostalgia buttons across the board, the old school strategy game ‘Battleship’ gets an epic extra terrestrial $200 million makeover in an audacious bid to ‘sink’ the stiff Summer competition.

Anyone expecting narrative complexities here, get prepared to swim back to shore. At the core of the story is rebellious and young at heart Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch). Attracting trouble everywhere he goes, we are initially under the assumption his talent pool consists of impressing attractive women (Brooklyn Decker’s Sam Shane being the token love interest) and stealing burritoes. Grown disillusioned with his antics, his tough talking brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) enforces the idea that Alex join the Navy and attempt to replicate his success in the field. The problems continue to mount on the radar once Alex discovers his superior officer is none other than Sam’s disapproving dad Admiral Shane, played by Liam Neeson.

The ante is soon upped when a Naval fleet is the subject of a horrendous attack by a peculiar looking alien force complete with extravagant looking ships, who seem intent on taking the gung-ho approach to invade Earth. With authority figures sorely lacking elsewhere, it is left up to Alex to steer the crew of USS John Paul Jones that include fierce Officer Raikes (Rihanna in her big screen debut) and Japanese reinforcement Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) to save the day.

When the trailer for ‘Battleship’ initally hit, it was immediately tagged as ‘Transformers at Sea’. Admittedly, it never quite shakes off such familiarities. Berg although slightly more restrained here than his more relentless directorial counterpart Michael Bay in the action stakes, every lingering CGI soaked shot of historical monuments being destroyed feels a tad recycled. Nevertheless, the film certainly delivers its fair share of bombastic thrills even if the intergalactic threat posed is hardly menacing nor memorable. Just don’t let me get started on the ‘reason’ they invade..

With such an on screen barrage to enjoy/endure, ‘Battleship’ drifts off course in other aspects. The performances are competent but unremarkable. Kitsch is arguably better utilised here than his other blockbuster outing and now confirmed flop John Carter, Neeson raises the credibility levels in a breeze of a role and Rihanna proves to be surprisingly bearable albeit one dimensional.

The script is as you would expect for such fare.. cliched and fatefully underwritten with dialogue clunkier than the junk in Rihanna’s trunk. As a result, the general tone is unashamedly daft and drenched in po faced All American patriotism, none more so than the AC/DC musically accompanied finale.

Outstaying its welcome considerably (130 minutes!?), it could make you jump to the conclusion that it is the complete disaster 99.9% of us anticipated. But so self aware in its descension into the ridiculous, ‘Battleship’ may just prove to be your ‘guilty pleasure’ this Summer.

Genuinely entertaining in doses, but not always for the intended reasons!


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