BATTLESHIP. Starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgaard, Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Col. Gregor D. Gadson, Peter MacNicol, Jesse Plemons, Josh Pence. Directed by Peter Berg. 132 minutes. Rated M (Science fiction violence).

Something like a cross between Pearl Harbour and The Transformers series.  Which means that director, Michael Bay, might be a bit envious of this action and boom  (many booms) spectacle that is set in Hawaii and has Aliens and Alien space vehicles that transform at will.  Actually, the Hasbro company is responsible for Transformers and its merchandise as well as for the board game Battleship and the new merchandise.

It all starts off very Americanly, scenes in a bar, a stupid attempt at heroism for a beautiful blonde who wants a take away burrito.  Then we have a soccer game in which our hero gets kicked in the mouth and loses a penalty goal, Japan beating the US as they gather for naval exercises in Pearl Harbour.  Another brawl and the hero losing his opportunity to ask the blonde’s father for her hand.  And he is the admiral.

There is also information given about signals and satellites, attempting communication with Planet G which seems to have similar atmosphere to earth’s.  There is a geeky scientist there who controls the communication.

Before you can say USS Missouri (which also features in this film), there is not only communication from Planet G, but huge vehicles land in the Pacific interrupting the naval games, but one lands on Hong Kong – quite a spectacular demolition of the city.  Soon Honolulu gets something of the same treatment, especially by giant rotating, knife wielding fireballs.

When the aliens have almost a 99% upper hand, we are wondering who is going to save the world and how.  Needless to say, it is our hero, Alex Hopper, played by Taylor Kitsch, more amenable here than as John Carter on Mars.  His main assistant is singer, Rihanna, in her first acting role, one of the boys, as it is said. We hear, ‘What the hell is that?’ many times and the dialogue tends to be variations on this.

Putting aside the 70 years memories of Pearl Harbour, and the Japanese bombings of the US navy, a Japanese expert works with Alex to bomb the aliens.  By chance, one of the officers puts on an alien helmet and remembers that it is like exposing his pet lizard to the sun – yes, the aliens cannot see in the sun.  In the meantime, the blonde who works on physical therapy with injured veterans, is on the mountain where the transmitters are.  So, bomb the alien craft, blind the aliens and destroy the transmitting dishes.  (With interventions from the Pentagon.)

And, of all things, the USS Missouri (analogue not digital) is put into service for the bombardment with the veterans who had gathered for the memorial going into action.  In the final credits they are described as ‘old salts’.

Much of the film is literally explosive.  It is also far-fetched – we hope.  But, at the beginning and the end there are moments of gravity, because Liam Neeson is the Admiral.  The world survives, medals are awarded and Alex has the opportunity to ask for the admiral’s daughter’s hand.

There is a minute or two after the credits which is set in Scotland – a tantalizing episode in case there is Battleship II.  But, I was the only person in the cinema who saw it.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.


Out April 12, 2012.

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