Toy-marketing movie pits soldiers against alien action figures
This pixellated extravaganza pits US and Japanese seagoing forces against extraterrestrial foes that look suspiciously like kids’ action figures. Presumably it’s because the same toy company that has the rights to the original Battleship game (on which the movie is based) also brought you the Transformers range. Essentially, then, we’re talking a marketing exercise as much as a movie.
Unfortunately, it’s not much of a movie either. Predictably big on military hardware, explosions, explosions and, yes, more explosions, its appeal would seem largely limited to boys who like playing with plastic figures and detachable accessories, an age group forbidden from seeing it by the PG15 certification.
Taylor ‘John Carter’ Kitsch confirms that he lacks leading-man charisma as Alex, a youthful rapscallion who shows his mettle when he joins the navy, taking on the invaders so Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, not over-taxed) will let him marry his blonde bombshell daughter, Samantha (Brooklyn Decker). Oh yeah, and he might save the world while he’s at it.
The action delivers a certain amount of mass destruction, but tends to assume the viewer has a four-second attention span – the aliens seem all-powerful one minute, laughably vulnerable the next. This dampens any prospect of excitement, and though director Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom) seems to have played his most spectacular cards too early, the movie rallies in a final reel of such outrageous, shameless, unrepentant (not to say explosive) idiocy that one can’t help but smile. Briefly.
Elsewhere pop foxtress Rihanna gets little to do in a supporting slot, while otherwise supercool Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano seriously dents his arthouse cred in a clunky turn as Kitsch’s rival-turned-pal. The package never, ever lets you forget its brand-led priorities. Still, when the name of the toy company is above the title on the poster, you can’t say you weren’t given fair warning.