Battleship Review
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I think itís pretty safe to say that most of us have, as some point, passed the time by playing the old board game Battleship. Itís a pretty basic guessing game, in which two players take turns calling out coordinates on a grid, trying to hit the various ships that their opponent has hidden. At one point, there was even an electronic version, complete with sound effects. But, from what I recall, there were never aliens involved, as there are in director Peter Bergís bloated big-screen adaptation.

Bergís Battleship tells the story of interplanetary outreach gone horribly wrong. After NASA attempts to communicate with a number of planets that appear to be similar to Earth, the response comes quickly and without warning. One day, a number of unidentified alien ships land in the ocean near Hawaii, interrupting a series of naval exercises. And after the outer-space travelers destroy some of the ships in the participating fleet, the remaining men and women are left under the command of impulsive, hot-headed Lieutenant Alex Hopper (John Carterís Taylor Kitsch).

Following in the footsteps of another Hasbro adaptationóMichael Bayís wildly popular Transformers franchiseóBattleship is everything you might expect. Itís big. Itís noisy. Itís filled with massive special effects. And itís way too long. But, heyÖit worked for Transformers. And if youíre just in the mood for some aliens and big-budget explosions, well, thisíll do the trick.

To be fair, the film does have a few things going for itólike its eye-catching graphics or its brief but scene-stealing performance by Liam Neeson. And the last 20 minutes of battle (complete with a few unexpected crew members) are pretty entertaining.

Still, it all gets off to a pretty slow start, making the film feel even longer than its 131-minute runtime. It opens with around 30 minutes of unnecessary back story, developing troublemaking Alex, showing how he met his girlfriend, Sam (Brooklyn Decker), and how the incident ultimately led to his being forced into the Navy by his straight-laced brother, Stone (Alexander SkarsgŚrd). The scenes are drawn-out and ridiculous, and the forced drama does very little to help the audience connect to the characters. And since thereís little or no emotional payoff in the end, the 30 minutes of character development amount to 30 minutes of wasted time.

Then, once the ships land and the fighting (finally!) begins, the film becomes little more than a blur of incoherent shouting, electronic noises, and visual effects. Granted, it sometimes looks pretty cool, but itís not enough to keep things interesting for another 90 minutes. In fact, after 30 minutes or so, it seems like the movie has nowhere else to go.

To make matters worse, the filmmakers actually attempt to give this alien-infested effects-driven thriller some connection to the board game, resulting in a lengthy scene in which Hopper and rival Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) stare at a grid and call out coordinates.

Basically, though, Battleship is Transformers at sea, but itís not quite as cool, and (to its credit) the plot isnít anywhere near as complicated. So if youíre looking for this summerís answer to the noise and effects of Transformers, look no further. Buy yourself some popcorn, and brace yourself for a couple of hours of aliens and explosions. But this over-stuffed thriller is far from must-see material.

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