Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vaunted vessels

A movie based on a classic board game! Interestingly enough, the action-scifi flick “Battleship” is an “adaptation” that partly works. You’ll have to bear with the ultra-formulaic transformation of the main character--from unfocused loser to quick-thinking leader--but the action does get quite riveting, once attention to the annoying factory-issue protagonist’s foibles shifts to other details.

Much time is squandered on developing the generic potential hero, Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a previously directionless and laughable character that eventually becomes a Navy recruit. He inherits the responsibility of leadership, of course, after his older brother Stone (played by Alexander Skarsgard—how’s that for underwear model-looking siblings?) is killed during an alien invasion.

Now in command of a mighty vessel and its similarly tough crew, Lt. Hopper and company must figure out the invading forces’ weaknesses. And because their extraterrestrial enemies’ ships are extra-stealthy, the humans must find a way to locate them and literally blow them out of the water.

So there’s the boardgame connection. The alien’s missiles also “inject” themselves on their targets, looking like shinier variations of the plastic projectiles from the game.

“Battleship” is very simple; aside from the battles of the vessels, the hostile encounters between the humanoid aliens and the earthlings aren’t anything new. Despite that, it’s not so bad; it’s unabashedly a popcorn movie where America saves the day yet again.

By the way, prepare to experience a really bizarre déjà vu when pop star Rihanna, as crew member Officer Raikes, is shown getting hit in the face by one of the aliens. That’s just… weird. Still, she’s shown kicking butt; at least one of the two female characters gets to do that. Brooklyn Decker’s therapist character is the token pretty and feminine damsel, daughter to Liam Neeson’s intimidating and no-nonsense Vice Admiral Shane.

As for Kitsch, he’s actually pretty likeable here, especially if you ignore the first 30 or so minutes of his character bumbling and attempting to be a relatable everyguy who needs some validation. Other characters actually needed some backstory, because they’re practically switchable. Still, "Battleship" is unapologetically big and testosteroney, and amuses mostly with its massive, effects-aided battles.

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