"Battleship" is one ethnic stereotype, two objectifying shots of the supermodel-ready female form, and three set-pieces of choppy, ADD-massaging quick edits away from being titled "Transformers 4." That both of these enterprises are adapted from Hasbro toys and/or games is probably coincidental, but make no mistake that studio Universal knew what they were doing when they conceptualized the project as an action pic pitting naval officers against space invaders bent on Earth's destruction. The script by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber (2010's "Red") clearly and concisely lays out and sets up all of its plot pieces early on, but by the time things are going boom it's rendered dumb as a box of hair. Where there is a shred of hope for a good while is in the direction by Peter Berg (2008's "Hancock"). Unlike Michael Bay's clanging, numbing, overblown approach, Berg lets his scenes play out with fewer cuts and stronger action choreography. There is coherence to what is going on that aids the film's momentum immensely, and also the ability to build a legitimate sense of threat. The edgy, unconventional music score by Steve Jablonsky (2010's "A Nightmare on Elm Street") is tops, too, full of industrial and electronic sounds that keep the viewer off-balance. If the first half of "Battleship" is solid in a summer popcorn extravaganza sort of way, the latter hour bombards with repetition, no clear vision, and an ever more wearisome cavalcade of explosions. What does the audience get in return? Yet another alien-invasion film where the intriguing mysteries of the unknown are pushed aside to make way for one-note villains with no personalities or motives outside of obliterating humans.
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