The director might be Peter Berg but this sci-fic war movie loosely based on the Hasbro board game feels like a Michael Bay cover version. It's pretty much a mash-up of his Transformers and Pearl Harbor in a film that pits seafaring alien forces against the US Navy. Cue a trademark Bay barrage of a musical score that literally shakes the cinema, ambitious visual effects, outlandish stunts and patriotism served up with extra cheese.
Battleship, the game where players try to find and sink each other's battleships, was pretty big in our house when it went electronic in the 70s. But as yet-another-nostalgic-toy-to-film-franchise it seems an even thinner concept than GI Joe (sequel coming soon). No matter. Berg and his screenwriters have devised a far-fetched storyline in which the US Navy must blindly track those alien spaceships in Hawaiian waters.
John Carter's Taylor Kitsch takes on the main role of Lieutenant Alex Hopper, a naval weapons officer and troublemaker on the brink of being kicked out of the navy. Cliched lectures from his successful Commanding Officer older brother (Skarsgard) aren't enough to keep him in line. But when massive objects from space splash down and threaten humanity Alex decides it's time to grow up.
Helping Alex, and making her film debut, is Rihanna as Pretty, sorry Petty Officer Second Class Cora Raikes. While occasionally overdoing the sassy-girl routine Rihanna nails the action scenes, quite often saving the day and looking suitably stressed during the tense bits. Kiwi actor John Tui also gets in on the action as the ship's engineer and all-round good dude.
Mainly though, Battleship takes more than two hours to do for the US Navy what Independence Day did for the USAF - but without the sense of humour. You'll laugh though, mostly due to the earnestness, especially when Berg drags out some World War II naval heroes to help.
It sure looks and sounds impressive, yet no matter how big, ridiculous and momentarily entertaining this film is, its characters struggle to convince you to join their fight.
Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson
Director: Peter Berg
Running time: 131 mins
Rating: M (violence and offensive language)
Verdict: Big, bold and instantly forgettable blockbuster