Based on the popular grid-based board game by Milton Bradley, Battleship looks like a simplistic concept, and director Peter Berg struggles to convince viewers that this is a story worth telling.
Friday Night Lights star Taylor Kitsch plays Alex Hopper, a flippant twenty-something who relies on his over-achiever older brother Stone (Skarsgård) to give him some much-needed life guidance. In an attempt to introduce junior to the 'real world', Stone pulls a few strings and gets him into the US Navy.
Initially Hopper fails to leave his reckless and irresponsible behaviour at quayside, but when the USS John Paul Jones comes into contact with alien vessels off the coast of Hawaii, he dives in head first to save the day. With the support of sassy Petty Officer Cora Raikes (Rihanna, making her acting debut), rival and highly skilled captain Nagata (Asano) and edgy-but-useful crewman Ordy (Plemons), Hopper uses every trick up his combat sleeve to prevent the ETs from phoning home. Meanwhile, Hopper's fiancée Sam, (Decker) who coincidentally happens to be the daughter of Vice Admiral Shane (Neeson), just happens to be trapped on a nearby Hawaiian island that's infested with alien creatures.
Kitsch is easy on the eye and a strong lead, while Asano and Plemons bring a bit of banter to their supporting roles. Rihanna fans, however, will be disappointed with the lack of screen time/dialogue that the R&B singer receives in her acting debut - RiRi has a long road ahead of her before she proves worthy to play Whitney Houston in any biopic. Neeson is also disappointedly side-lined for the majority of the film.
Battleship's special effects are impressive - especially when it comes to the aliens' weapons - but they would have been far more mind-blowing in 3D. That said, it is refreshing to see that Berg used authentic naval ships, instead of over-relying on CGI. If only as much attention had been paid to the script, which is silly, falls flat on several occasions and has overly cheesy lines connecting one scene to the next. The humour also feels forced in parts, and at times it is difficult not to cringe at the dire gags – although there is one clever scene about prosthetic legs and a cyborg.
In order to sail through this movie, viewers must be prepared not to question the disjointed scenes and take everything with a pinch of (sea) salt. Otherwise, it'll be a case of going from board game to bored senseless.