Taking place in Hawaii, the film opens with the introduction of two of our main characters, an apathetic younger brother named Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) and his older brother, naval officer Stone Hopper (Alex Skarsgard). The two share a drink one night as Stone reprimands Alex for wasting his youth, all the while Alex becomes entranced by a young blond named Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) who just happens to be the daughter of the admiral of the fleet (Liam Neeson). Ridiculousness ensues as Alex becomes determined to get Samantha’s attention by breaking into the mini-mart across the street in an effort to get her a chicken burrito (bare with me). After being assaulted by police and arrested, Stone gives his younger brother an ultimatum; join the Navy or else. These scenes are over the top and to be honest, hopeless in an effort for the audience to connect in any way to the characters. At this point, it feels like an old 80’s surf comedy. But, once we get past the introductions and bit humor that is imposed upon us, we get to the grit of the story. Flash forward… Alex has joined the Navy and it’s RIMPAC time (one of the largest maritime exercises conducted biennially in Honolulu Hawaii).
Conveniently, this explains how a fleet of naval ships happens to be out in the Pacific when low and behold, we are visited and assaulted by aliens. Though the beginning of the film is mundane, there are some pretty neat battle scenes when the story picks ups after the arrival of other worldly beings. This is where the war between the unknown and some of the very best naval officers come into play. And for fans of the board game, there are some ingenious inclusions that pay homage to the game from the missiles launched by the Aliens resembling board pegs, to the later reduction of strategic warfare using a grid map and the rise and fall of buoys as a means to scout locations with many of us older audience members whispering the infamous words, “you sunk my battleship!”
Though much of the fighting between the enormous alien aircraft and our warships is fought off the shore of Oahu, many of the predicaments in which we observed were so farfetched and unbelievable that you have to take this film for what it’s worth (on the level of Transformers 2). Our only complaint lies with the development of the characters and the story itself, from the obscurity of an alien aircraft making its trek to Earth, only to hop and bounce in the water while our battleship pummels it, to the convenience of our main character’s girlfriend being at just the right location, at just the right time to assist in ultimately, saving the earth. But if you can get past the dubious story, there are some fun actions sequences to be had. And who doesn’t love an old timer, with an impressive resume to bat. Yes, the U.S.S. Missouri “Big Mo” makes an appearance and we don’t care who you are, there is something heroic and nostalgic in those scenes. Overall I did like the movie, and probably think it would be a great DVD rental if you don’t mind waiting. I give it a three out of five stars for its entertaining war games.
Battleship is in theaters now.