A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Battleship (inspired by the classic Hasbro board game) is the kind of summer alien adventure that, like Independence Day, features a doomsday alien invasion that only a select armed forces group can fight against. As you'd expect, there's a high body count -- mostly due to all of the building- and ship-destroying explosions that the aliens -- though not much gore. Many high-tech weapons are used, one female character dresses somewhat suggestively, and the language can be occasionally salty -- "s--t," "bitch," and two cut-off exclamations of "motherf--er." Although the effects-heavy action is filled with scenes of targeted violence, there are ultimately some positive messages about rising to the occasion and overcoming your fears.
What's the story?
Hawaiian beach bum Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a mess, and he proves as much on his 26th birthday, when he drunkenly breaks into a convenience store to steal a burrito for a potential date with Sam, a beautiful bar patron (Brooklyn Decker) who happens to be the admiral's (Liam Neeson) daughter. To turn his life around, Alex joins the Navy, where his big brother, Stone (Alexander Skarsgard), is an officer. Four years later, Alex is a hot-headed lieutenant trying to summon the courage to ask for Sam's hand in marriage, but his efforts are foiled when, during a war games exercise with the Japanese, a series of unidentifiable objects appears in the Pacific Ocean, creating an impenetrable field around three ships. After the objects are revealed to be aliens -- who destroy two of the ships -- Alex ends up the senior officer of the gathered forces, forcing him to cooperate with the Japanese to bring down the alien enemies.
Is it any good?
Alien invasion films are ridiculously stereotypical, and BATTLESHIP is no exception. But what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in pretty spectacular special effects and sea-faring action sequences. This is no thinking viewer's war drama; this is the sort of big-budget spectacle to enjoy once on the big screen and maybe once more to give your home surround-sound a work out. After the unfortunate flop that was John Carter, Kitsch gets another shot at playing the hero, and he does it well. There's no finesse in the dialogue, but Kitsch is just right playing gorgeous rogues with a heart of gold -- as anyone who watched and loved Friday Night Lights knows.
As a bonus to FNL fans, director Peter Berg once again casts Jesse Plemmons as the nerdy guy who's always quick with the wisecrack. His boatswain character offers consistently good comic relief, as well as a decent acting partner for Rihanna's debut as a hard-as-nails weapons specialist. While Battleship's script is far from the layered finesse of, say, The Avengers, the action is exactly what you'd expect from an explosive summer popcorn flick. Tweens and teens -- especially boys -- will get a kick out of the military tactics and the broad humor (look, kids, elderly veterans curse!), while grown-ups might wonder if they've seen the same movie every summer for the past 15 years.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Battleship's violence. How does the fact that much of it is larger than life affect its impact? How is it different watching aliens get hurt than human characters?
What are some of the cliches associated with alien-invasion movies? Why are they such a popular genre to release in the summer?
This movie marks Rihanna's transition from music to film. Was her celebrity status as a pop superstar distracting in the role?
Why do rogue characters like Alex tend be more compelling than always-good characters like Stone?
- In theaters: May 18, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2012
- Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch
- Director: Peter Berg
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Space and aliens
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.