BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Saturday, May 19, 2012
5/19/12 at 5:26 AM
Have you ever watched little boys play "war," lining up their toy soldiers, their tanks and their weapons? It can start out calmly enough, maybe even featuring a bit of strategy. A flanking move? Nice.
You leave the room for three minutes, and the noise is amped up. The destruction level of toys thrown across the room, landing in a million pieces, appears to be that of global war. It's a take-no-prisoners mess.
That's what "Battleship" feels like, a movie based on the simplicity of Hasbro's naval strategy game. It abandons humble board-game beginnings and any pretense of intelligent storytelling early on.
This poster-child for the big, dumb, loud summer blockbuster spends the entire movie destroying aircraft carriers, brain cells and Taylor Kitsch's chances of headlining another $200 million movie in his career ("Battleship" and "John Carter" in the same year has got to hurt the former "Friday Night Lights" star).
As Lt. Alex Hopper, Kitsch plays an intelligent, talented, reckless young member of the U.S. Navy whose bravado and pride land him in one scrape after another. For the most part, he's a quarter-century-later version of Tom Cruise's "Maverick" from "Top Gun" - just add water.
Hopper has a lot to live up to when compared to his respected brother (the movie needs more of Alexander Skarsgard's Navy man). He's got a girl (model Brooklyn Decker) he loves desperately, but Hopper can't muster the courage to ask for her hand in marriage from her dad - you know, his boss, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson).
Oh, brother. My eyes were rolling early and often during "Battleship," in which Hopper finds his bravery at sea when aliens attack, with their ships plunging from space into the waters off Hawaii.
The space creatures have the demeanor of those from "Independence Day." But their technology is essentially a rip-off of the "Transformers" series: Their ships open up and fire off flares and look something like the inside of an old charcoal grill, while their space suits feature whirling gadgetry with the ability to slice, dice, mince and chop.
What do the aliens want? It's never made clear, in a "Who cares?" kind of filmmaking.
Director Peter Berg is from the school of thought that E.T. has only evil thoughts in his odd-shaped head, with extinction being the only close encounter in which he has an interest.
The film is ludicrous on a ludicrous number of accounts. For example, there's Rihanna, the singer, who portrays apparently the only female member of the U.S. Navy.
We don't learn anything about any of these characters, so why should we care about them? All we know for sure is that Rihanna's big-gun-blasting petty officer gets all the catchphrase lines ("Maholo, mother------").
Having seen "Transformers," the audience reaction should be LOL.
The film's only saving grace is its outrageous patriotism on a couple of accounts; you might want to consider wearing your American flag pin to attend.
While over-the-top in its red-white-and-blue bombast and U.S. Navy seal of approval, at least "Battleship" finds a brilliant use for some World War II veterans to kick some alien butt.
Add to that the performance of Col. Gregory Gadson - the current director of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior program, who lost his legs to an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2007 - opposite Decker's physical therapist, and some inspiring moments emerge.
As for rest of "Battleship," just sink it.
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Alexander
Skarsgard, Liam Neeson
Theaters: AMC Southroads 20, Cinemark
Tulsa, Cinemark Broken Arrow,
Starworld 20, RiverWalk, Owasso,
Eton Square, Sand Springs, Moviestar
Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (intense sequences of
violence, action and destruction, and
Quality: (on a scale of zero to four
Original Print Headline: 'Battleship' sinks
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
“Battleship” is the poster child for the big, dumb, loud summer blockbuster. Courtesy