Battleship


Peter Berg's enjoyable motion picture Battleship is a high-concept military orgy of heroic implausibility that is expertly crafted to get the audience rooting for our side -- which in this case is the human race. In doing so, the film trades the heavy chauvinism found in similar films for more universal concepts of brawny honor and the triumphalism of intellect over weaponry. Perhaps as a nod to some who said we got what was coming to us on Sept. 11, 2001, the humanoid space invaders are simply answering what they perceive as a hositle intergalactic message that naive academics have been targetting at an Earthlike orb in another solar system. The signal, which is beamed from Hawaii, draws a fleet of alien craft to the scene of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which invites the audience to make all manner of comparisons and knowing historical references. It's a neat and nifty conceit in a film that is packed with dizzying special effects that, in the end, still make room for some pretty successful human interactions, most of them between the men and one woman (pop singer Rihanna) on the ships poised to defend the planet from destruction or conquest or both. Pretty boy Taylor Kitsch (best known for his work as a pretty boy on Friday Night Lights) is the storied screw-up looking for personal redemption for a host of bad choices, perhaps his most egregious is dating the daughter (Brooklyn Decker) of the admiral (Liam Neeson) of the fleet stationed in Oahu. Berg keeps the narrative and direction wonderfully tight and his action sequences match or surpass what I've seen lately from Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor) or Roland Emmerich (Independence Day). Battleship, based on the Hasbro game, is mind candy for those who enjoy watching stuff blow up real good but who also want to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice needed to keep us safe. Note to Hollywood: Why are black folks in movies so often saddled with the profanity and the voicing threats of bodily harm? Let's move on.

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