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Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Jesse Plemons, Peter MacNicol

Director: Peter Berg

Pearl Harbor with aliens. Kitsch, rapidly becoming known for starring in movie disasters (of the wrong kind), is Alex, wild brother of straight-arrow naval officer Stoner (Skarsgard). Somehow, he, too, gets a commission in the USN, just in time to face a waterborne alien invasion brought about by earth beaming satellite signals to a distant planet thought to be capable of sustaining life.

From being a sort of Mario Balotelli of the US Navy, Taylor proves himself a hero when the rest of the fleet is destroyed and he's left to face the alien warships alone. Just as well he comes good, as he's in love with the curvaceous daughter (Decker) of the crusty local admiral (Neeson, struggling to keep a straight face).

Meanwhile back on land, panic spreads as fiery alien pinwheels destroy whole towns. 'Other places,' gasps the TV announcer, 'were also affected. Scotland, Germany, France, even Iowa...'

Well, with the help of ace gunner Rihanna (who's actually pretty OK in her movie debut), Taylor's suddenly-acquired naval skills take out three of the alien craft before his own is sunk. All is lost, surely? But wait. There's still the harbour's museum battleship and its elderly crew of veterans...

It's tough to tell how much of all this is tongue in cheek, but I suspect not very much, and a packed preview audience chuckled happily throughout. Special effects are pretty impressive, but the soulless action is just humans and aliens firing big missiles at each other and there's little suspense in the mayhem bar a modicum towards the end.

Blooper buffs should keep an eye on Taylor's facial injuries from a fight, which vary from shot to shot, and there's a three-minute scene after the credits which you shouldn't bother waiting for. 'I saved the world!' exclaims Taylor. And so he has. But not the film. Sadly, this battleship sinks with all hands.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
129 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Apr 2012