So, right, I watched this. (For free – I’m not crazy.) Utterly ridiculous – as most alien invasion movies are. For those that are not aware, it’s based on the 2-player board game of the same name. It’s important to note that this is one of the simplest board games ever. It consists of blindly “shooting” at your opponent’s navy by calling out positions on a grid. Keep this fact in mind for later.
Now, I’ll tell you straight away that the first 20 minutes can simply be skipped. This span of the movie is one of the more tedious attempts at character development ever. And hello, no one is watching an alien invasion movie based on one of the simplest board games ever for the characters. If they needed to pad for time, I would have liked some insight into the aliens’ motives. (I can hardly believe I am asking such a thing of this movie, but there it is.) Anyhow, skip the beginning, as you’ll easily figure out the two-dimensional characters’ simplistic motivations and relationships by watching the action parts of the movie.
After the blah-blah, the aliens land. One ship breaks up and smashes up a bit of China. The rest land near Hawaii and toss up a giant shield that not even Liam Neeson can get through, leaving only 3 human naval vessels (none of which are battleships) inside. Apparently the alien ship that crashed had all their communication equipment on it, so now they need to invade Hawaii to use some radio telescopes there to contact a (human) satellite to contact their home planet to tell them to send more ships to help invade earth. Yes, that’s right, humans have a modest-sized satellite that can contact other star systems, but aliens who can cross interstellar space don’t have the same technology on all their ships, only the one.
Moving on… oh, yeah, speaking of moving. The alien space ships – SPACE SHIPS – move by hopping in/on the water. I am not making this up. They look like Megatron trying to do the breast stroke. They never fly again, nor do they submerge again once they’ve surfaced near the beginning of the movie. They conveniently stay on the 2-dimensional surface of the ocean and fight the human naval ships pretty much like other, albeit spastic, human naval ships. Handy, eh?
Remember the point from the first paragraph I told you to keep in mind? Good. This is carried over into the film – aside from eyesight neither the human nor alien ships can detect one another. Now, clearly, we can expect that star-hopping aliens would be able to jam human radar and what not. However no explanation whatsoever is given as to why the aliens can’t track the human ships. Worse still, the humans cheat! The tricksy bastards use TSUNAMI DETECTION BUOYS to track the hopping alien ships. And with enough accuracy to shoot missiles at them and eventually hit them. I shit you not. (To be fair, it was a Japanese sailor who figured this out, so that’s probably why it worked. The only semi-intelligent characters in the movie are Caucasian females or Japanese males. Lucky for the aliens there wasn’t a female Japanese character or they would have been screwed right off the bat.)
So, now that the makers of this movie have crippled the aliens in ways only justifiable in the context of slavish devotion to a 70 year old game a 6 year old can play and that the humans are cheating, you have to start to wonder if perhaps the kids from “Super 8″ should get subbed in for the US Navy, since clearly there’s hardly a challenge in it for the military. But wait! The aliens have spiffy, flying, spinning, fiery, metal-chewing ball thingies that eat ships, helicopters and highways for lunch. Probably adolescent filmmakers too. So, with all the puny human ships now turned into scrap metal, what’s a bunch of socially dysfunctional heroes to do? You guessed it: grab a bunch of naval veterans, un-museum-ify the USS Missouri, and use this 70 year old battleship to fight the last alien STARship. And here you were worried there wasn’t going to be a battleship in this.
So, anyhow, now we have some serious action. The nine 20-inch guns of the Missouri pound the crap out of an alien vessel made out of trans-uranic elements no earthling (Japanese or otherwise) can identify. Also, the loser captain of the museum ship and the Japanese guy shoot out the windows of the alien ship using large rifles. They do this because the aliens, as it turns out, are invading a planet that is so bright they’re functionally blind on it without sun glasses. Seriously, my 90 year old grandmother could beat these guys at this point. Still, the heavily damaged last alien ship manages to spit out 3 of the spiffy, flying, spinning, fiery, metal-chewing ball thingies just as the Missouri shoots its last round off at the radio telescopes on Hawaii (to prevent the ETs from phoning home). Fortunately, the last alien ship was damaged enough that the giant shield is down and Liam Neeson is able to save the Missouri and our heroes with some of his aircraft carrier’s fighter jets. It’s worth pointing out that Liam knows his jets are so bad-ass that rather than launching all of them to help fend off an ALIEN INVASION, he only sends a few. It’s like he knew the movie was almost over or something and was trying to save jet fuel.
So, anyhow, what’s good about this movie? Nice action sequences. Good effects. Thus, I would say you should only see this movie under the following circumstances: 1) you don’t have to pay for it, 2) you can easily skip the first 20 minutes or so, and 3) you can ignore the idiocies enough to enjoy big metal human sea ships and big metal hopping alien sea ships knocking the crap out of each other.