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By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
An alien invasion that only the U.S. Navy can stop may sound exciting, but it's not. Especially when it's a $200-million-plus film version of the popular board game.
"Battleship"is not the first major motion picture to be based on a board game — who could forget 1985's benighted "Clue"? — but it is surely the most expensive.

With every superhero more celebrated than Amazing-Man or the Chameleon already spoken for (ditto for hot toys like Transformers), Hollywood has fallen back on popular games as likely fodder for action epics. If "Scrabble: The Movie" or "Qwirkle or Death" appears on a future marquee, don't say you weren't warned.
Finally, Hollywood has produced a movie for people who found the Transformers series too intellectually challenging. This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, since Battleship is not based on a novel, or a magazine article, but a board game.

Yet even within the confines of a big, dumb summer action movie, Battleship strains the limits of credibility. Director Peter Berg has layered a veneer of patriotism and gung-ho Navy pride onto Erich and Jon Hoeber’s cardboard screenplay, in a cheesy attempt to bring gravitas to the project (and guilt to anyone who dares to knock it). Still, there’s no escaping the fact that the characters—though played by beautiful people—are strictly one-dimensional. Even a tough military veteran who’s lost his legs, and his will to live (played by real-life amputee Gregory D. Gadson), becomes a living cliché.NASA and the Pentagon are zero help, of course, and seem to be embracing this "extinction level event." But when the Navy begins using tsunami buoys to track water displacement on a computer screen, the visuals harken back to the old board game especially, as they call out coordinates, "Romeo 6" and "Whiskey 25."
Taylor Kitsch
as Lt. Hopper is much more than watchable, he's a dreamboat, in fact. This role is a much better use of his talents than the title role in John Carter. Brooklyn Decker plays his fiancée Sam Shane (yes, Admiral Shane's daughter), a physical therapist who gets suck on a Hawaiian mountain top when the invasion begins. True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård plays Commander Stone Hopper who could easily convince me to sail away with him (but I miss the fangs).
I couldn't help myself with the puns, especially given that IMDBpro reports that Adam Sandler is developing a film based on Hasbro's game "Candy Land." Who knew our childhood board games would be the new hot intellectual properties? Of course Sandler will be watching Battleship's box office this weekend -- a bad open for Battleship could lead the "Candy Land" movie into the molasses swamp.

But Battleship delivers on superior spectacle and clearly defined characters, making the stakes of Titanic seem puny compared to the entire planet being at risk. A few extra life rafts won't get the captain out of this jam.

Set in Hawaii, the story takes a while to get going, but the heavy rock soundtrack (there's that Black Keys song again!) helps to keep the character/story set-ups rolling. Once the aliens from Planet G arrive, it's full speed ahead.

Alien movies usually present their little green men in the sky. This may be one of the only movies that finds them in the water, making for "Unidentified Floating Objects."

Called "The Regents," the aliens are surprisingly simian, two arms, two legs, walking upright, but somehow a lot more Terminator.

Liam Neeson plays Admiral Shane, perfectly terse and seasoned. Rihanna makes her film-acting debut and delivers a watchable performance as Petty Officer Raikes, a bad-ass weapons specialist. Her best line: "Mahalo, mother-f***ers!
Confession: I'm usually in Peter Berg's corner. Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom and Hancock all show a director with a wild streak Hollywood can't totally tame. But Battleship, based on Hasbro's naval-combat game, shows Berg trying to transform into demon box-office machine Michael Bay. Can you aim lower? Battleship is all noise and crashing metal, sinking to the shallows of Bay's Armageddon and then digging to the brain-extinction level of the Transformers trilogy.

Confession: I'm usually in Peter Berg's corner. Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom and Hancock all show a director with a wild streak Hollywood can't totally tame. But Battleship, based on Hasbro's naval-combat game, shows Berg trying to transform into demon box-office machine Michael Bay. Can you aim lower? Battleship is all noise and crashing metal, sinking to the shallows of Bay's Armageddon and then digging to the brain-extinction level of the Transformers trilogy.

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