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Big, bold and brash

Battleship

(12A, general release, 131 minutes) Director: Peter Berg Stars: Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgard

HHIII

Peter Berg does not have the most delicate of touches. He makes big, loud, noisy films that entirely lack nuance and either work just about (The Kingdom) or don't at all (Hancock).

Battleship is his loudest yet: it cost a whopping $200m to make, and is the first of the 2012 summer blockbusters to storm out of the traps. It's an action film, set mainly off the coast of Hawaii, where an international naval exercise is about to be rudely interrupted.

Taylor Kitsch is Alex Hopper, a cocky young US naval lieutenant who's assigned to the battleship Sampson. Things are a little tense between him and the US fleet's commander, Vice Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), because Alex has been pursuing Shane's beautiful daughter Samantha (Brooklyn Decker).

Her crusty father doesn't think this bum is good enough for his baby, and Alex is determined to prove him wrong, but the pair must park their differences when strange things start happening in the mid-Pacific.

Alex is at sea on the USS Sampson with his older brother Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) when a series of large metallic objects come crashing from the sky.

Unbeknown to the unfortunate sailors, a scientific project called Beacon has identified a potentially life-sustaining world called Planet G, and has been beaming messages of welcome to it.

Unfortunately for humanity, Planet G has replied in the most emphatic terms, by sending war ships to colonise our planet.

As the Sampson and two other ships get trapped inside a huge and impenetrable bell-like force field, the aliens use super-sophisticated gunships and weapons to subdue the navy and attack mainland Hawaii.

What they're after will soon become obvious, but meanwhile Alex becomes de facto skipper of one of the naval gunships and decides it's time to teach these space hoodlums a lesson.

Loosely based on the old children's game played with paper and pencil, Battleship jokes around a bit and flirts briefly with some semblance of a plot before settling into the noisy, clunky, effects-cluttered rhythm of the Transformers films, with which (unfortunately) it has much in common.

Crass and clumsy, deafening and trashy, Berg's film is designed to appeal to early teenage boys, but I suspect that even they will find it tiresome.

After laboriously establishing its flimsy premise, Battleship embarks on a series of deafening action set pieces that end up seeming very samey, and the cast are left stranded in a sea of special effects muttering ghastly platitudes.

It's a bore, and, when you consider how much money was spent making it, you begin to despair for humanity and start rooting for those trigger-happy aliens.

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