Let’s blow stuff up.
I’d say it’s a pretty good bet that was director Peter Berg’s prime directive to the cast and crew of “Battleship.”
Ships, helicopters, cars, skyscrapers, people. See them all go boom. Or rather: BOOM!
You know those ear-protector headsets crew members wear on aircraft carrier flight decks? Get some. The sound in this movie is turned up to 11 … million.
Whether it’s the shrieking of flying, flaming buzz saws from outer space, or the roaring of big naval guns firing salvo after salvo, or simply the blaring of the rock music on the soundtrack, “Battleship” uses sound to pound audience ears and brains into submission.
The movie’s plot is almost as simple as the board game from which it’s derived, and that game is simplicity defined: Try to guess the grid coordinates of an opponent’s warships and sink them, one grid square at a time.
To this elementary formula, Berg (“Hancock”) and screenwriting brothers Jon and Erich Hoeber (“Red”) have added evil aliens whose super-advanced technology makes them invulnerable to our weapons. Until it doesn’t.
It’s the old “War of the Worlds”/“Battle: Los Angeles”/“Cowboys & Aliens” scenario: They come blazing in from Way Out There with their megaships and their force fields and every other far-out gizmo that the special-effects boys can brew up on their workstations. Massive property damage ensues until us hapless Earthlings are pressed to the brink of doom. Then the hero exploits a tiny little glitch in their technology, and Ba-Boom! Eat lead, you miserable off-world menace, you.
That hero is as much of a cliche as the aliens. Played by Taylor Kitsch of “John Carter” fame (Ouch!), he’s a slacker and a screw-up when we first meet him, drunkenly trying to win over a blond beauty (Brooklyn Decker) with a stolen chicken burrito. (It’s complicated. It’s dumb.) She has a high tolerance for stupid, and they fall in love.
He joins the Navy (which gave massive technical assistance to the production). Turns out his sweetie is the daughter of an admiral (Liam Neeson) who thinks the lad has some good qualities but is an impulsive hothead, and no jerk like this will ever be allowed to win his daughter’s hand. And then dolt-boy suddenly becomes the last best hope of humanity in its fight with the aliens. (Again, complicated and dumb.)
Ah, but it’s all kind of fun in a brainless summer blockbuster sort of fashion. Plus, Berg cleverly finds ways to give well-deserved cinematic shout-outs to real-life wounded vets of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and also to old salts who served aboard the USS Missouri.
Turn off your brain and enjoy. But don’t forget to cover your ears. ‘Battleship’
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, and Alexander Skarsgard
Director: Peter Berg
Running time: 2:11
Rated: PG-13; violence, destruction, language