Eagerly anticipated by absolutely no one, Battleship represents a shamelessly cynical attempt to encroach on the success of the Transformers franchise with its own pastime-inspired blockbuster. But while the first instalment of the aforementioned series at least achieved guilty pleasure status, all you’ll find here is guilt at having wasted your time for no pleasure.
Despite raising hopes with an amusing bar-set sequence that introduces us to slacker protagonist Alex (Taylor Kitsch) and stern older brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgård), the tone is set by a hilarious (for all the wrong reasons) ‘soccer’ sequence in which Skarsgård takes the mantle of least-convincing on-screen goalkeeper since Sylvester Stallone in Escape To Victory.
From here, the downward spiral perpetuates.
The kindest thing you can say about Battleship is that it is mostly inoffensive in its bone-headedness (save for its portrayal of scientists as snivelling weasels intent on destroying the world by being all smart), but that doesn’t change the fact that having already required the viewer to suspend belief in the outlandish concept, it demands a further acceptance of the various wanton acts of stupidity – intercut with sound bites for the trailers and TV spots – committed throughout.
Faced with this overwhelming spectacle, there is little room for real acting. Kitsch is the only one given a rounded character to play – Skarsgård seems to exist only to voice disapproval, Liam Neeson’s Captain Shane is underused and Rihanna is entirely incidental to the plot – which he manages to make inject with genuine pathos, but he’s almost a lone voice, fighting alongside rival-turned ally Yugi (Tadanobu Asano) against a rally of explosions and Pow! Boom! etc.
By the time the rushed finale finally comes about (which includes an unwelcome post-credits sting), the overwhelming feeling is of relief.