Rousing effects outshine obvious script, poor acting in ‘Battleship’

Contributed
Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna in ‘Battleship.’ Rated PG-13, 131 min. Universal Pictures, 2012.

For a film based on an old Hasbro board game, “Battleship” is actually a better film than it sounds like it would be. But whether there is still any new ground to cover in the now-familiar “alien invasion leads to massive explosions” genre is up for debate. Imagine “Independence Day” and “Transformers” set at sea, and add in a little “Pearl Harbor” and “Armageddon,” and you get “Battleship.” It’s a well-worn road.

Director Peter Berg somehow stretches this out for more than two hours, thanks in part to an unnecessarily lengthy introduction that attempts to flesh out the stock characters before getting to its goal: blowing everything up.

As he did in “John Carter,” Taylor Kitsch struggles as a leading man. Here he plays Alex Hopper, a bad boy out for redemption in the Navy. He clashes with his older brother (Alexander Skarsgard), loves his girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker) and fears her admiral father (Liam Neeson). Meanwhile, superstar singer Rihanna shows up in an underwritten role as an artillery expert.

The strained acting and the obvious script do not live up to the impressively seat-shaking special effects. Yet in a movie like this, effects trump all else.

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