Battleship (12A/PG-13, 131 mins)
Director: Peter Berg
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Believe it or not, this silly slice of sci-fi action is based on the classic board game in which players call out grid references to try to sink each other boats. From that slimmest of platforms, a two hundred million dollar blockbuster has been born, one that begins after mankind sends out signals to an earth-like planet and objects from space land in the Pacific, turning out to be aliens intent on taking over the planet. Luckily the world’s navy is gathered in Hawaii for exercises, and Taylor Kitsch’s naval loose cannon must rise to the occasion and save the day. A few diversions and a good half hour drift by before we really get down to it, but once it kicks off astonishing visual effects are piled on to wreak devastation on a massive scale, unleashing a grinding metallic orgy of destruction that’s fun for a while and yet surprisingly repetitive and lifeless in places. Kitsch shows much the same stolid charm he did as John Carter, but Liam Neeson is criminally underused as the admiral in charge, largely because much of the fleet is isolated, leaving Kitsch and his crew as the only ones carrying the fight. It’s as cheesy as Independence Day and as chaotic as Transformers but agreeably goofy, never asking to be taken too seriously, which is probably just as well.