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REVIEW: Non-stop action and solid performances save 'Battleship' from sinking

 

Based on the vintage board game of the same name, “Battleship” is an exercise in extreme excess.  The blast-from-the-past action flick is another case where it appears a Hollywood boardroom has scraped the bottom of the barrel of originality to come up with a very long, very loud movie with almost nothing new to say.

But for all of its bloated excess and alien blockbuster knock-off, it’s actually a rather enjoyable film.

Taylor Kitsch (“John Carter”) plays obnoxious Alex Hopper who is forced into the Navy to shape up and impress his girlfriend’s (Brooklyn Decker) Admiral father (Liam Neeson). But when giant alien machines fall from the sky and unleash fury on Hawaii, Hopper, who is a failure at almost everything else, somehow becomes the most qualified person in the entire world to stop the attack. Only in the movies, folks!

We’re never told why these aliens want us dead, but the angry visitors lose their communications ship and spend the rest of the movie trying to hijack a remote satellite base so they can phone home for reinforcements.

The bar is initially set so low in the film that your expectations can only be exceeded. After a half hour of back-story, the audience is thrown into a series of deafening battle sequences and a highly enjoyable live-action sequence of the original Hasbro game. The most fascinating part of “Battleship” is that the more preposterous it gets, the more enjoyable it somehow becomes.

The highlight of the film features a very cool sequence with real Navy vets who jump back into action, schooling the young Kitsch and the crew on how to really take down the enemy.

Still, for all its attempts at being patriotic, the film does have a tendency to make the Navy look wimpy. When all hell breaks loose, the five officers on the ship cry, panic and shuffle about without any idea what to do. One character actually pleads to Hopper to take over the ship by saying, “If you can’t do it then who else can?” 

Supporting Kitsch is an all-star cast, notably featuring pop star Rihanna, who gets some heavy artillery and chews up the scenery with her one-liners. Double-amputee Colonel Gregory Gadson, who is not a professional actor, also gives one of the most enjoyable performances in the film. Don’t mess with that guy!

While it was disappointing that no one ever said “You sank my battleship!” the film is silly, but fun to watch.

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