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Bored game: Battleship

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Battleship (PG-13)

It's pathetic enough that Battleship is the dullest alien invasion movie ever, featuring an uninteresting incursion by nondescript aliens doing boring things and not even blowing shit up in exciting new ways. But Battleship also fancies itself a cautionary tale.

"OMG — we should not be broadcasting our existence to the universe," it cries, "because all the bad aliens will come for our water or gold or Twix bars! Someone shut up all the astroscientisty types before they invite all the facehuggers over for dinner!"

For that is precisely what happens here: Space nerds send a signal to a distant star system, and, like, days later, here's the away team from Planet Facehugger come to steal all our bubblegum. Except they're not actually all that bad. The most destruction they cause is accidental, when their communications ship crashes into Hong Kong, and their badass war balls (giant spiky metal balls that roll around crushing stuff in Honolulu, such as highway overpasses) come to a complete stop when they might mistakenly roll over a little kid or a horse. So you basically just need to go to a Little League game or stand next to a horse to escape destruction by the giant metal alien balls.

But even when we puny humans do engage them in a military way, they kinda just roll over like puppies wanting their bellies rubbed. All we need is Taylor Kitsch, who goes from loser to lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in exactly the same amount of time it takes for the aliens to come a-invadin'. (He read The Art of War, but he doesn't get it. He actually says this.)

And then some tech outdated by even Earth standards turns out to be enough to bring down alien invaders, anyway. All we need is a battleship and a bunch of grandpas who probably haven't even forgiven Japan for Pearl Harbor yet.

I wish I was kidding about all this.

Screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber (Red, Whiteout) had to bring in the mothballed battleship, because they were locked into "crafting" a movie around a mothballed board game. God help them, they came up with a way to have real warships fight a battle on a grid. But they could have been more creative about it.

Meanwhile, director Peter Berg (Hancock) adds nothing to the genre; he drenches the destructo-porn in golden sunlight and fellates the military. Independence Day is looking more and more like a classic with each passing year.

I can't even say this is nothing but a pointless exercise in blowing stuff up, because not that much stuff actually blows up. Pop star Rihanna is the least bad thing about this flick, and at least brings energy to the screen. The same cannot be said of Liam Neeson, whom we can feel counting his paywad. His sole purpose as a Navy admiral is to be the intimidating father of Brooklyn Decker, whom Kitsch wants to marry, but can't get up the nerve to ask for permission.

Hoorah for Kitsch, for by saving the world from incompetent aliens, he is finally made man enough to confront Neeson. The notion that an adult woman requires her father's permission to marry puts the social setting of Battleship on a par with the military and scientific one. Horatio Hornblower vs. Aliens in the Napoleonic War? That could have been a whole helluva lot more adventurous fun than this soggy mess.

scene@csindy.com

Related Film

Official Site: www.battleshipmovie.com

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber

Producer: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir, Jeffrey Silver and Scott Stuber

Cast: Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Peter MacNicol, Jesse Plemons, Josh Pence, Tadanobu Asano and Gary Grubbs

Related Film

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber

Producer: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir, Jeffrey Silver and Scott Stuber

Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Jesse Plemons, Peter MacNicol, Josh Pence, Tadanobu Asano and Gary Grubbs

Related Film

Official Site: www.battleshipmovie.com

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber

Producer: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir, Jeffrey Silver and Scott Stuber

Cast: Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Peter MacNicol, Jesse Plemons, Josh Pence, Tadanobu Asano and Gary Grubbs

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