Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BATTLESHIP - Invasion of the Flying Yo-Yos

BATTLESHIP (sci-fi action thriller)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Alexander SkarsgÄrd, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Jesse Plemons, Tadanobu Asano, Peter MacNicol and Rihanna
Director: Peter Berg
Screenplay: Erich and Jon Hoeber, based on the board game by Hasbro
Time: 125 mins
Rating:  *  *  *  (out of 4)

Rihanna faces the alien craft in  BATTLESHIP

PREAMBLE: 'Summer' begins early in Malaysia and we get to watch Battleship and Marvel's The Avengers way ahead of the Americans. If Transformers: Dark Of The Moon was last year's summer blockbuster, Battleship is this year's equivalent, especially since it is based on the board game from the same company, Hasbro. 

Yes, like Transformers, this sci-fi action adventure is a kick-ass action fantasy for kids of all ages - a guilty pleasure for action fans.

Rihanna manning the gun
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch aka 'John Carter') is a brash young man who pulls all sorts of stunts without thinking first. This is especially so when he wants to woo a pretty lass named Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) who happens to be the daughter of US Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). To get him out of trouble, his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) enlists him into the US Navy - where his reckless behaviour gets him into even more trouble.

In real life, Alex would be a regular jackass but to Hollywood script-writers, he has all the qualifications for the mandatory 'reluctant hero'. This happens during a huge naval exercise in Hawaii when beings from a distant planet attack Earth with superior weapons. Teaming up with other unlikely heroes like Petty Officer Cora Raikes (Rihanna), Capt Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) and crew mate Ordy (Jesse Plemons), Lt Hopper must put all his skills to the test to save the world!

Taylor Kitsch facing off with an alien

The action set pieces are not as awesome as last year's Transformers but the early scenes of crashing buildings and exploding battleships are serviceable enough to put the point across that the world is being invaded. Director Peter Berg heightens the excitement by showing the point-of-view of the aliens before they shoot - and the 'flying yo-yo' weapons of the aliens produce extensive destruction for maximum visual impact.

Berg rightly anchors the story on its characters, providing humorous glimpses of how some people react to the alien threat. Of course, we get the feeling that we are missing the 'big picture' because the action is concentrated only on a handful of individuals. We don't get to see how others are hit by the massive destruction as these are 'reported' on the TV news.

It is interesting that Kitsch is starring in two of this year's most expensive movies: John Carter (at US$250 million) and Battleship ($200 million). However, unlike John Carter, Kitsch has a better and more developed role here. His Alex is a bit of a caricature - and Kitsch plays him with the requisite touch of humour. Neeson provides the 'veteran star' stature to the proceedings as the no-nonsense Admiral while Decker (above, right) has the eye-candy role even if she is not as sexily decked out as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

Singer Rihanna is unimpressive as Raikes - a role similar to Michele Rodriguez's Trudy in Avatar. Maybe she does not have some good lines - but then most of the dialogue here are sloppy. Also, in order to enjoy the action, we have to overlook the plot holes and suspend disbelief a great deal, especially near the end where we are to accept that a famous 70-year-old battleship can be recommissioned to do heavy battle in just a matter of hours.

Hey, we know that everything up on the screen is silly, but it is guilty fun and the effects are awesome! Now, will you pass the popcorn, please?


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