Every once in a while, a movie comes along that's so utterly shameless, it achieves a certain grandeur. Peter Berg's Battleship, which I swear to God is described in its Wikipedia entry as an "American science fiction action naval war film," is one such movie. Over the past few years, the military-industrial-entertainment complex has been going great guns, with salutes to the Army (fellow Hasbro production G.I. Joe), Navy SEALs (Act of Valor), and now this $200 million hail to the fleet, which takes up the unusual task of extrapolating a story arc from that game with the little red plastic pegs, principally remembered as being easy to cheat at. During the RIMPAC naval exercises in Hawaii, the Hopper brothers—loose cannon Alex (Taylor Kitsch) and straitlaced Stone (Alexander Skarsgård)—along with Rihanna, naturally, find themselves their nation's only line of defense against space invaders who've splashed down in a few crafts, quite reminiscent in their intricately shifting movable-parts design and metallic cacophony to leftover Hasbro Transformers. Berg, creator of Friday Night Lights and director of the estimable The Rundown, is in street-fighting mode here—that is, he does not hesitate to pull any dirty trick in order to get the job done. When the F-14s came out for a triumphant flyover, I looked around the room to find the moron who was applauding, only to realize that it was me.
After punching wolves in The Grey, Liam Neeson punches aliens in Battleship.
Opens Fri., May 18 at Lincoln Square and other theaters. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes.