Battleship is more miss than hit
Battleship Starring Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard, Jesse Plemons. Screenplay by Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber. Directed by Peter Berg. 131 minutes, rated M (violence, offensive language). Showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua. When I first eyed Taylor Kitsch in the masterful television show Friday Night Lights I knew that Hollywood would court him sooner or later.
As well-intentioned screw-up Timmy Riggins, Kitsch knew how to be a black sheep, heartthrob and damaged goods all at the same time – an essential ingredient in a modern action hero. It’s just a shame Kitsch can’t pick his projects better.
He was solid as the mutant Gambit in the God-awful Wolverine flick, and his ‘‘loveable rogue’’ act in John Carter, and now Battleship, has remained engaging enough to suggest he can get away with reprising the same character again and again and not lose appeal. Bruce Willis has been the master of this.
Nevertheless, John Carter was a muddled disappointment and Battleship is worse.
It is beyond me how anyone thought it a good idea to link an alien invasion movie to the old Milton Bradley boardgame.
The game involved a lot of little red and white pegs and was heaps of fun, but even the electronic version with its sound effects and computerised co- ordinates will seem archaic to generation Xbox – who are most definitely the target audience of the sometimesentertaining but at- all- timesabsurd Battleship.
Other than some amusingly peg- like missiles and a fiveminute sequence where a beleaguered navy crew uses an electronic grid to locate and fire on the alien vessels, I have no idea what Universal got for its licensing fee.
Kitsch likely signed on as navy captain Alex Hopper to repay a debt he owed director Peter Berg, who created Friday Night Lights.
Berg tries to take the best of Independence Day and Top Gun (substituting destroyers for jet planes) and make box-office magic – but the plot and character motivations are fatally hackneyed.
Hopper joins the navy at the behest of brother Stone ( Alexander Skarsgard), who is sick of his little brother’s meandering ways. He has the smarts to go far, but his hot head gets him into trouble
He is on the verge of being kicked out of the navy and to make matters worse, his fleet commander is also the father of the girl he wants to marry. Lucky for Hopper, there’s nothing like an alien invasion to test one’s aptitude and prove one’s worth.
Liam Neeson plays Admiral Shane, who does nothing but grimace and shout into a radio. Brooklyn Decker, the girlfriend, at least gets a side mission, trying to stop the aliens from calling for reinforcements, and pop star Rihanna, as one of the crew, serves more purpose in the promotional posters than in the movie.
To its credit, Battleship doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at more than two hours in duration and with nothing to distinguish itself – bar its marine setting and Kitsch’s appeal – from the plethora of Cgi-laden alien invasion movies, tedium swells.
As for Kitsch, he should be back on our screens again before the end of the year in Oliver Stone’s drug war thriller Savages. Hopefully it’s a case of third time lucky as a leading man.
Game on: ‘‘You sunk my battleship!’’ Taylor Kitsch has to save the world from aliens and win his future father-inlaw’s respect in the hare-brained, slightly boardgame-inspired