Battleship review

Hollywood has already laid siege to most of our childhood memories – even the ones it created itself.

After churning out enough remakes, updates and reimaginings to turn nostalgia to nausea, it’s decided to go one step further, adapting a board game so facile it can be easily replicated with a pen and paper. What’s next, Noughts And Crosses: The Movie?

Leaving aside the mercenary aspect – pretty tricky with Hasbro Toys on production duties – such an enterprise requires some serious padding, and Peter Berg’s swollen blockbuster more than delivers.

When aliens attack a fleet of naval destroyers (apparently actual battleships are now obsolete), Lieutenant Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) leads the rag-tag crew of the HMS John Paul Jones into the breach with just his cock-sure attitude and a cock-rock soundtrack.

What follows is nigh-on two hours of gale-force military fetishism, a script set to soundbite (“Boom!” says the underused, but surprisingly un-terrible, Rihanna, firing a cannon), and stratospheric levels of product placement.

At one point Hopper actually plays Battleships with real battleships (well, destroyers). Meanwhile, Michael Bay’s hectic editing provides the blueprint for the seasick action sequences, and the alien ships look exactly like Transformers – another Hasbro property.

So why isn’t such a frivolous concept any fun to watch? Probably because there’s nothing at stake but toy sales.

The aliens’ supposedly awesome weaponry only manages to destroy a few ships, a freeway and a baseball pitch. No shots last for more than three seconds – even the slow-motion ones – and no idea sticks around much longer.

Except for a brief scene of Hong Kong’s Bank of China Tower toppling to the ground and a vertiginous “Abandon ship!” moment, the CGI-heavy SFX feel rushed and contextless, like the console adaptation of an ancient blockbuster, rather than the reverse.

“It’s time for a game change,” barks Hopper’s brother (Alexander Skarsgård) with some justification. Fair enough. Anyone for Hangman?

Misguided in the extreme. A scene in which Kitsch and co aim blindly for the broadest of targets – and miss by miles – proves painfully apt.


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