sat 15/06/2024

Battleship | reviews, news & interviews



Switch off your brain and you might even enjoy it

Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna draw up a plan to save the planet

"Find your inner soldier and stop the alien threat before it's too late!" runs the blurb for Hasbro's Battleship computer game. The movie of the game seizes this basic idea by the scruff of the neck, and pumps it up into a cacophonous effects-crammed military yarn with a deafening heavy metal soundtrack. Alien forces have landed in the Pacific, and the US Navy is forced to fight Pearl Harbor II.

Director Peter Berg (pictured below) is the son of a US Marine, and he hasn't stinted on the patriotic flag-waving. Military veterans from World War Two and recent Middle East conflicts have been drafted in (the former crew the 1940s battleship Missouri, and the latter are represented by Iraq vet and double amputee Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, who plays Lt Col Mick Canales). The US Navy lent assistance to the production, which features countless beautifully-posed shots of sleek modern warships charging around the ocean in immaculate formation.

If this is starting to make you feel nauseous, there are compensations, though of course any movie starring somebody called "Taylor Kitsch" is fighting a credibility war from frame one. In fact Kitsch's finest moments occur at the start of the flick. Kitsch (playing Alex Hopper) is out drinking with his brother Stone, who's the commander of the USS Sampson. Alex is still a mere bar-hopping slacker only interested in beer and girls. When the bartender won't serve glamorous Sam Shane (Brooklyn Decker) with a late-night snack, Alex goes on an amusingly catastrophic chicken taco hunt which results in him wrecking a grocery store and being tasered by police, though not before he has delivered the microwaved foodstuff to the bemused Sam.

Destiny is calling Alex, because not only is his brother determined that he needs to shape up and join the navy, but Sam turns out to be the daughter of Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, who these days always looks as though he's mounted on a plinth). Alex ends up in uniform aboard the USS John Paul Jones - named after a hero of the American navy, not Led Zeppelin's bass player - but though seemingly blessed with various skills, he keeps screwing up. The admiral warns him that once the current series of naval manoeuvres near Pearl Harbor are over, so is his career in the service.


Fortunately the aliens pick this moment to make their intervention (pictured left), and their spaceships come screaming to earth wreaking various shades of destructive havoc on freeways, skyscrapers etc. A cluster of alien craft land in the ocean off Hawaii, and when the US Navy goes to investigate the weird shapes poking out of the water, destruction and mayhem is unleashed. "I got a bad feeling about this," says Alex, brow furrowed. "Like we're gonna need a new planet."

You can guess the trajectory - earthly forces take a terrible battering from the outlandish space machines (which are clearly related to the Transformers, another Hasbro franchise) before our hero-in-waiting, Alex Hopper, steps up to the plate. An orgy of explosive mayhem has left him the senior officer aboard his ship, and he has to dredge up hidden reserves of courage and ingenuity to stage a fight-back. He is assisted by Rihanna as Petty Officer Raikes, a perfectly-formed weapons specialist, and a chap called Nagata from the Japanese navy. The USS Missouri gets to make a heroic intervention (the clue is in the title). 

This is fast-food, drive-in filmmaking, but the pace is furious, the special effects never stop, and there are even some glimmers of wit in the script (Rihanna at war, pictured right). Best of 'em is Alex's dismayed retort to Admiral Shane, when he declines permission for him to marry his daughter: "But sir, I saved the world." I still can't work out how the mega-sophisticated aliens can create a giant force field powerful enough to destroy ships or aircraft that try to breach it yet have no defence against plain ol' high explosive, but we're darn lucky they don't.

Watch the trailer for Battleship

The pace is furious, the special effects never stop, and there are even some glimmers of wit in the script


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters