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July 29, 2017

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'Battleship' down

Inspired by Hasbro's classic board game, "Battleship" is essentially a lavish but inconsequential diversion. For the film, the fact that aliens do exist, have responded to our radio signals, and have landed on Earth for possibly colonizing it is mainly an excuse for thrilling battleship action, and for slacker Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) to go through his coming-of-age.

Right from the start, we are introduced to Alex and his older brother Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård), a self-disciplined and dapper naval officer. As the brothers celebrate Alex's birthday in a bar, a beautiful girl walks in. Through his quest to acquire a chicken burrito for the girl, Sam, Alex not only wrecks havoc in the neighborhood but wins her heart and convinces the audience of his potential as a warrior.

Purely a coincidence, Sam (Brooklyn Decker) turns out to be the daughter of Admiral Shane, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Stone's superior. When Stone gets fed up with Alex and orders him to join the Navy, Sam naturally becomes Alex's fiancée. The difficulty of this romance, however, lies in asking for Admiral Shane's permission on the marriage. In portraying Admiral Shane, Liam Neeson reprises his familiar niche role as a tough wise guy.

Meanwhile, scientists have enthusiastically commenced the Beacon Project, sending signals into outer space aimed at a Goldilocks planet (i.e. a planet with conditions comparable to those of Earth, where extraterrestrial life is likely found). Soon, a fleet of alien vessels zooms through space toward the Earth in response.

Blissfully ignorant of the aliens approaching, members of the American and Japanese Navy play a soccer tournament in Hawaii. This soccer game introduces a vibrant, albeit facile roster of supporting characters. Later on, while frantically fighting aliens, these characters still manage to each make a coherent impression.

Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) is the Japanese officer whose relationship with Alex changes from rivalry to camaraderie as they unite against a common enemy. Ordy (Jesse Plemons) is the clearheaded Marine who is long on insightful quips but short on adrenaline-driven courage. Cora Raikes, played by singer Rihanna, is a woman whom you know you can rely on. Noteworthy especially is real-life U.S. Army Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, who lost both legs in Iraq in 2007, and plays Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales in the film.

Sam, a physical therapist specializing in veteran rehab, goes on a hike with Mick, but the aliens disrupt the day, forcing them to help save the world along with Cal (Hamish Linklater), the nonchalant, nerdy scientist who monitors the Beacon Project's satellite dishes.

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