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The film only thinly purports to be about clash of civilisations even as the battle it is obviously fighting is for the Transformer-ish toy market.

Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi |
April 13, 2012 6:25:25 pm

Cast: Taylor Kitsch,Rihanna,Alexander Skarsgard,Brooklyn Decker,Liam Neeson

Director:Peter Berg

Indian Express Ratings:*1/2

WHEN Hasbro meets (Pearl) Harbor and quotes Homer,what you get is Battleship — a film that only thinly purports to be about clash of civilisations even as the battle it is obviously fighting is for the Transformer-ish toy market.

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And boy,does it throw in the big artillery in that battle? From a popstar to a supermodel,from the biggest battleship the US has built to new-age naval “destroyers”,and from cocky recruits to patriotic and lastly disabled veterans.

The aliens themselves come aesthetically packaged in heavy metal — hiding all the colourless,unseemly flesh inside except for hazy glimpses of their eyes. They are not so bad considering that they spare unarmed humans. However,the humankind,led by Taylor Kitsch (the very same from John Carter),makes no such distinction in blasting them back into space.

The war to “save the earth” happens this time on the Pacific sea,where the “alien ships” drop from a distant planet (named G) located in a distant solar system (named Gleesa). It’s powerful transmissions sent by the NASA from Hawaii that have brought them here. It’s not a warm arrival as one ship that breaks off wipes 25,000 people in Hong Kong in one go. The other four alien ships land in the sea,immediately set up some kind of electromagnetic wave that cuts off battleships that are in the Pacific from the command centre,and then go about destroying them when threatened.

The guns aboard the earth-kind’s ships prove no match till Alex Hopper (Kitsch),till then a reckless Marine in love with the Admiral’s daughter,is forced to take charge when his brother (Skarsgard) gets killed. He finds a combative rival and then brave partner in the Japanese captain (Tadanobu Asano). The latter is there as part of naval exercises between the US and Japan,right off Pearl Harbor,but to all purposes,he is the only Japanese around. However,the Japanese star should prove enough for a strong boost in that market.

The aforesaid daughter of the Admiral (Neeson) is played by supermodel Brooklyn Decker. As if the weight of that combination in the heart of a naval crisis is not enough for her slender shoulders,Decker is even required to do her own heroic bit and face almost death. We wish what her face conjures up could be called a conflict of emotions.

Rihanna,in her acting debut,fares much better,because she keeps it simple and she keeps it sober — despite being the only girl in the thick of action. She inspires confidence as the stolid gunner,as edgy Kitsch jumps around shooting instructions.

As for the ships themselves,the film — based on a Hasbro boardgame of the same name — gives us postcardish impressions from far without bothering with a real inside picture. The only thing the film pauses to capture on a ship is a motto of the US navy: “In God we trust,all others we track.” And still come the aliens.

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