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They sank their Battleship'

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Sci-fi action film flawed and formulaic

Sometimes when we go to the movies, we're looking for complex stories about the sorts of trials and tribulations we encounter in real life. They're dramatized of course, but at their core, these are stories that could have happened to us in some way, shape or form.

And sometimes, we just want to see some stuff blow up. Guess which category 'Battleship' falls under? Surprise the movie based on a board game isn't overly invested in character development!

The film is centered around Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, 'John Carter'), a ne'er-do-well troublemaker whose latest scrape with the law finally pushes his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard, TV's 'True Blood') to demand that Alex join the Navy. Flash forward a few years and Alex is progressing through the ranks, though he's never quite shed his inability to be bound by The Man's rules. He's also dating the lovely Samantha (Brooklyn Decker, 'What to Expect When You're Expecting'), a smart, tough woman who just happens to be the daughter of Alex's superior officer Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, 'The Grey'). Because that's just how things work in movies like this.

The oh-so-hotheaded Alex winds up getting in a fight with a fellow officer during an important training exercise. This is apparently the last straw; Admiral Shane informs Alex that when the ship returns to port, he'll likely be kicked out of the Navy. Alex is left searching for some way to prove his mettle; a way to show the powers that be how brave he is.

And then the aliens show up. From there, it goes much like you'd expect.

What we have here is the formula for your standard-model summer action blockbuster. You've got the troubled but good-hearted hero who has to prove himself. You've got the girlfriend and sidekicks (including one played by Rihanna) who are fiercely loyal to the hero. You've got the gruff authority figure who doesn't believe in the hero. You've got the rival who begrudgingly learns to respect the hero. You've got the seemingly unbeatable enemy presenting overwhelming odds against the hero's success.

And you've got explosions. Lots and lots of explosions.

Hollywood seems bound and determined to turn the bland semi-vacant Kitsch into an action star. He's a nice enough actor, but after a couple of uninspiring efforts in a row ('John Carter' was rough), it might be time to let that ship sail. The supporting cast is the definition of 'meh' Skarsgard's okay and Brooklyn Decker is fine if you don't ask her to do anything. Hamish Linklater (TV's 'The New Adventures of Old Christine') and Jesse Plemons ('Paul') have some fun moments.

Also: Rihanna is a terrible actress. I mean just awful.

The biggest question I was left with, however, was this: Just what did this movie have to do with the 'Battleship' board game? Other than the title and a couple of bits that seemed forced at best and hokey at worst, there was no real correlation. You could have put just about any generic sci-fi/action name on this project without changing a thing.

'Battleship' isn't all bad there's lots of Earth-on-alien battle action and a few laughs. In the end though, it's just too loud and too formulaic. Still, if you go in with appropriately low expectations the movie is based on a board game, after all there are worse ways to pass the time.

2 out of 5

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