Susan Granger's review of 'Battleship'
Chock full of excitement and explosives, this is a popcorn picture extravaganza -- delivering noisy, escapist entertainment to those who enjoy the classic Hasbro board game.
As ships from around the world gather off the coast of Hawaii for their annual RIMCAP naval exercises, the exploratory Beacon Project that was sent into space has reached a planet with a similar atmosphere to Earth. As a result, five gigantic spaceships filled with hostile aliens from another galaxy are headed our way -- and who can stop them?
Could it be the Hopper brothers: 26 year-old maverick Alex (Taylor Kitsch) and his straitlaced older brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard)? First glimpsed at a bar on Oahu, they're a good guess. Because after a large, unknown object is spotted jutting out of the sea near his Navy destroyer, USS John Paul Jones, now-Lieutenant Alex Hopper is sent out to investigate, along with Petty Officer Second Class Cora Raikes (pop star Rihanna), a tough-as-nails weapons specialist. Then, of course, the enemy missiles attack. For romantic distraction, Alex has become engaged to physical therapist Samantha (Brooklyn Decker), whose father, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), commands the Pacific Fleet. She's working with double-amputee Army veteran Mick Canales (real-life Iraq hero Gregory D. Gadson) and scientist Cal Zapata (Hamish Linklater), who devises a way to break the aliens' communication wall.
Inspired by the board game, screenwriting brothers Jon and Erich Hoeber ("RED") haphazardly piece together a bland, cliche-riddled, interstellar story, beginning with the discovery of a so-called "Goldilocks planet," meaning that it's close enough to, yet far enough away from the sun to sustain life. Since neither Taylor Kitsch ("John Carter") nor model Brooklyn Decker displays much acting ability, the emotional stakes are remarkably low. However, little of that is of much interest to director Peter Berg ("Hancock," "Friday Night Lights") and his Industrial Light & Magic production crew, who concentrate on creating the big-budget, naval combat "Transformer"-like special effects.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Battleship" steams to an energetic, action-filled 5 -- but it's flimsy, formulaic and far too long.