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Gusto Keeps Movie Afloat
BATTLESHIP (12A) Action/Sci-Fi/Romance. Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Jesse Plemons, Gregory D Gadson, Hamish Linklater, Peter MacNicol. Director: Peter Berg Battleship, the children’s board game of naval warfare, is brilliantly simple: hunt and sink your opponent’s ships of varying classes within a 10x10 grid.
This test of guile and logic provides the unlikely inspiration for a special effects-laden alien invasion blockbuster directed with gusto by Peter Berg.
From the opening shots of scientists foolishly transmitting signals into deep space to scenes of retired US officers casting aside their walking sticks to man a naval vessel, Battleship is preposterous popcorn fodder.
Even the two-dimensional characters acknowledge the ridiculousness of their situation.
When one grizzled war veteran, played by real-life double amputee Colonel Gregory D Gadson, growls patriotically, “Let’s see if we can’t buy the world another day!” a nerdy scientist responds: “Who talks like that?”
Neat touches provide tenuous links to the game: the alien’s grenades are shaped like the red and white plastic pegs which indicate a hit or miss and screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber ingeniously contrive a real-life contest of search and destroy in the middle of the Pacific.
Battleship gradually achieves a brisk rate of knots and once the aliens enter Earth’s atmosphere, director Berg orchestrates carnage on a grand scale to justify the $200m budget. Cities are razed in a miasma of digital trickery and the cast perform impossible feats to escape the devastation.
Taylor Kitsch is far more likeable here than as the time-travelling hero of John Carter, and Rihanna gets down and dirty with the boys in the frenetic action scenes.
The script’s attempts at humour elicit weary groans and the plot is riddled with gaping holes.
But Battleship is all about the slam-bang spectacle and Berg’s film delivers, guns a-blazing.