‘Battleship’: Explosive take on game fails

  • Wed May 16th, 2012 6:50pm
  • Life

By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic

Other summer blockbusters might make it look easy, but “Battleship” works hard. Man, does it work hard: This movie wants to blow you up, hurl you against the wall and then blow you up again.

And I guess it succeeds, in some sense: “Battleship” will leave you exhausted and possibly partly deaf. If the heavy ammunition doesn’t get you, the head-spinning story line might.

The movie’s partly “inspired” by the Hasbro board game of the same name, which is where the insanity begins. Ah, what a trend this is. If only Stanley Kubrick had lived long enough to make a $400-million production of “Chutes and Ladders.”

After an extended prologue that establishes bad-boy Alex Hopper as a, you know, bad boy, we skip ahead a few years to find Hopper now in the Navy but still a bad boy. He is played by Taylor Kitsch, star of the recent “John Carter.”

Would you believe that military maneuvers out of Pearl Harbor coincide with the arrival of giant outer-space flying machines? And that Hopper’s bad-boy ways are the only thing standing between civilization and a complete alien takeover?

Well, believe it. Adm. Liam Neeson is out of commission thanks to an extraterrestrial cone of silence that descends over the Hawaiian Islands, but luckily Hopper’s statuesque girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker) is near the top of an Oahu mountain where the U.S. has established an outer space communication station.

This all makes sense, in the movie’s straight-faced, lunatic way. Once things get going, there’s almost nothing but big explosions to carry the material along. I’ll say one thing for these explosions: They are really, really big.

It’s a good 90 minutes before director Peter Berg (“Hancock”) gets to the movie’s one actual bit of inspiration, which involves the battleship Missouri and a few greatest-generation types hanging around. Had the Missouri remained docked at Bremerton, this would have been a very different kind of movie.

Is “Battleship” any good? I can’t think of anything much worthy about it, although surely the sound-effects editing is Oscar-caliber. (That probably won’t end up being a quote for the ads.)

It’s got pop singer Rihanna as a sailor, Japanese star Tadanobu Asano as Hopper’s rival, and real-life military amputee Gregory Gadson as an especially tough veteran. But even if I enjoyed the sight of Gadson socking a bearded alien in the face — and I did — the human element is decidedly secondary here.

“Battleship” seems intended to look and sound really impressive on Blu-ray on your home flatscreen with the volume turned way up. It succeeds best as a film to demonstrate TVs at an electronics store, where I predict it will enjoy a long life.

“Battleship” (1½ stars)

Nearly continuous loud explosions form the essence of this lunatic enterprise, in which naval maneuvers off Hawaii are interrupted by the arrival of giant outer-space flying machines. Taylor Kitsch and (relatively briefly) Liam Neeson are in the human cast, although this is a movie about machines, not people.

Rated: PG-13 for violence.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Pacific Place, Thorton Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor.