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Battleship (PG-13)


05/24/12
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Why, yes, they did work the little pegs and the grid into the alien invasion movie Battleship, an adaptation of the game.
 
Do kids even play Battleship any more? Those plastic peg-boards, tiny boats and game-play that shares a lot with Bingo seem like the kind of thing that wouldn’t fare well when compared to video games that let you and a group of your friends, each sitting comfortably in his or her own room, kill things with your choice of weapon. 
 
Well, Hasbro, perhaps this movie will help fuel a Battleship revival. Figure out how to work in a life-sized Alexander Skarsgard cutout and maybe you have a shot at winning over the older female audience.
 
Because the ludicrously named Commander Stone Hopper (Skarsgard) might not be the lead of this action cheeseball, but he is all kinds of hot in Navy whites. He is an upstanding officer who constantly finds himself helping out his brother Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch). A floppy-haired slacker when we meet him, Alex is in need of direction, and Stone decides that that direction is going to come from the Navy. So after Alex is arrested for breaking into a convenience store to steal a chicken burrito (to impress a girl, of course), Stone makes him enlist.
 
Cut to, er, later and Alex is in the Navy though still a bit of a screwup, which he fears could hurt his chances of winning over Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), who is not just a superior office but also the dad of Samantha (Brooklyn Decker), the girl for whom he stole that burrito and whom he now intends to marry. During a multi-nation naval exercise, Alex once again finds himself in trouble after he and Japanese naval captain Yugi Nagata get in a fight (opponents in the Japan/U.S. soccer game, they finished their competition with fisticuffs in a ship bathroom). 
 
Alex has apparently used up a whole box of second chances and is facing the possible end of his Navy career when he, Alex, the Admiral, Nagata and a slew of other people who hopefully have their affairs in order hit the Pacific for some war games. Once they get out in open ocean, however, an encounter with what is so clearly an alien ship that it’s kind of absurd we spend time pretending it might be something else changes Alex from a screwup to the first line of defense from a possible invasion.
 
Meanwhile, back on land (which in this case is Hawaii), Samantha and one of her physical therapy patients, Army officer Mick (Gregory D. Gadson, an actual U.S. Army officer who is a double amputee and walks with prosthetic legs) are hiking in the mountains when they see another alien ship. They learn that a nearby satellite station is under attack and may be the key to the success or failure of the alien’s plans.
 
Some other awesome aspects of the movie that I guess deserve some kind of SPOILER ALERT: Not only is the wounded Army officer played by an actual wounded Army officer, but he gets to say things like “Let’s buy the world another day” and be all kinds of bad-ass. There is a nice Battlestar Galactica-esque moment (that telegraphs itself like a giant neon gun waved around in the first act) involving an old battleship and its old crew of World War II/Korean War veterans visiting Hawaii during the naval exercises. There’s the coming-together-for-the-greater-good friendship of Alex and Nagata. There’s the scientist played by Hamish Linklater who gets to, not once but twice, say that thing about how the aliens are to us what Columbus was to the Indians (a quote which was featured prominently in the trailer for Battle Los Angeles). As mentioned before, the grid — fire, B1 — makes an  appearance as do weapons that bear some resemblance to the pegs I remember from the game. And there’s Skarsgard, who, did I mention, is exceptionally appealing in a uniform. (That last one isn’t really a spoiler, it’s just worth mentioning again.)
 
Battleship shares a lot with Battle Los Angeles, which also had a soldier contemplating the end of his military career right before alien invasion, but Battle Los Angeles is like a gritty art house movie compared with the no-holds-barred, kablam-y, catch-phrase-able, bro-hero-laden nachos-with-double-cheesetastic action explosaganza that is Battleship. Battleship the movie is not in 3-D but it feels 3-D, it comes right at your face with its alien-killing, gruff-Liam-Neeson-having insanity.
 
Battleship is big goofy entertainment, gleefully devoid of any kind of serious acting or story but full of that particular brand of summer movie fun. B
 
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction and for language. Directed Peter Berg and written by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber, Battleship is two hours and 11 minutes long and is distributed by Universal Pictures. 





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