In Battleship, based on the Hasbro board game of the same name, the Hopper brothers, Stone (played by Alexander Skarsgard) and Alex (Taylor Kitsch) are in the U.S. Navy. Stone is a commander and the responsible brother.
Alex is a lieutenant and the irresponsible yet somewhat caring sibling. When aliens attack the same waters in which the Hopper brothers are manning destroyer ships, it’s up to Alex to put aside his ginormous ego and hangups and work with his team to save the planet.
Directed by Peter Berg, Battleship has the great possibility of being a one-note action film with the hot actors who save the day and get to kiss the hot girl at the end. While Battleship leans toward that path, it does try to become something more. Berg uses real-life military veterans as well as older guys to save the day, showing audiences that newer and younger isn’t always better.
Case in point: Stone and Alex man destroyer ships. According to Alex, battleships receive the punches, destroyers are designed to destroy. Faced with an unbeatable obstacle, however, it’s the battleship that makes the difference.
Likewise, real-life veteran Gregory Gadson plays Mick Canales. Mick, whose missing legs have been substituted with metal and who has a severely injured right arm, helps save the day using his best asset: his mind. Before Mick stands up to the aliens, though, he’s a wounded soldier who’s given up on life. Mick sees his missing extremities as keeping him from being a soldier, which is all he’s ever known.
Screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber get Battleship off to a clunky start and resort to letting the action do most of the leg work. In the beginning we see ne’er-do-well Alex breaking into a convenience store to steal a chicken burrito for his new love Samantha (Brooklyn Decker), then being forced by Stone to join him in the Navy.
The audience suffers a lot of Alex’s hotheadedness to really drive the point home that he is immature and refuses to learn. The Hoebers apparently expect the audience to feel that Alex just needs a good ole’ fashioned alien invasion to make him grow up and not get kicked out of the Navy by his boss and Samantha’s dad, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson)
As performances go, Skarsgard moves out of his comfort zone when his Stone loses it and yells at Alex.
Skarsgard is known for playing cool characters with sinister motives. To see real anger emitting from Skarsgard out of brotherly love is a welcomed sight. Skarsgard should flex his acting muscles more.
Rihanna does a surprisingly good turn as Petty Officer Cora “Weps” Raikes. One might figured Rihanna to chew some scenery and do a little stunt, not mussing a hair on her head. Surely she wouldn’t allow her diva self to appear sans make up and (gasp!) dirty.
All of those expectations were debunked the moment Rihanna’s Cora has to help Alex to safety. Any remaining doubts about Rihanna taking this acting thing seriously are annihilated when she saves the life of one of her crew members and wields a really big gun with ease. A performance like Rihanna’s makes one take her much more seriously as an actress and a singer.
SIGN OF SUMMER FUN
The same goes for Decker, who shows some range as a tough physical therapist. Her previous roles have been the gorgeous girlfriend who’s too young to have a brain, so this new Decker is a welcomed change.
Kitsch, who helmed the epic bomb that is John Carter, redeems himself playing hotheaded Alex. It’s time for him to graduate to a more well-rounded character.
Despite not ousting Marvel’s The Avengers from their #1 spot at the box office last weekend, Battleship is still a good popcorn movie and a precursor of things to come this summer: big-budget adaptations sure to please, especially the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises. The Summer of Great Adaptations has officially begun.