Alan Dee’s guide to the new movie releases: Battleship, The Cabin In The Woods

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IT seems likely that, in what passes for a garret in the fleshpots of Hollywood, some ambitious young screenwriter is even now working on a big budget movie treatment for the rainy afternoon favourite Connect 4.

Or perhaps he’s toying with a treatment which offers more potential for gore, like Hangman.

And imagine what someone like Peter Greenaway would come up with if he decided to make a cerebral masterpiece based on numbers card game Uno.

Why these musings? Well, because the movie makers seems to have decided that they’ve milked the last drops of possibility from the comic books, computer games and even theme park rides that have provided the springboard for film franchises of varying degrees of success in recent years and have gone back to basics.

That means that millions of dollars has been spent in conjuring up a big screen version of a game which most people manage to play perfectly well with two bits of scrap paper and a couple of pens.

The team which decided that Battleships – yes, tedious grid game Battleships, you must have played it at some time – was ripe for the blockbuster treatment have form in this area – and after the inexplicable success they have enjoyed with loud and stupid series Transformers who is to say that they won’t be on the money again this time?

Centre stage in daft ‘Independence Day afloat’ offering Battleship – just the one in the title, but there is a whole fleet involved – are the busy but bland Taylor Kitsch and the busy but bored-looking Liam Neeson.

Taylor is a keen young naval officer predictably at odds with gruff skipper Liam, not least because he’s got engaged to the old man’s hottie daughter.

But our two heroes have to put their differences behind them when a Pacific Ocean exercise goes pear-shaped, and do battle with a monstrous and powerful alien vessel and save mankind.

An appearance by chart star Rihanna in the background should serve as a warning – such cynical cash-in casting is rarely a success.

It’s just as brainless as you’d expect, and if you can ignore the $200 million price tag and the cardboard characters and just switch off your brain it will fill an hour or two until Marvel Avengers Assemble, coming up at the end of the month,

> When a film has a title like The Cabin In The Woods it’s a fair bet that said cabin should be avoided like the plague.

Sadly the bright young things in Drew Goddard’s new take on the horror icon have apparently never seen this sort of movie, and cheerfully head off to a really, really remote location for a paaaaarty weekend.

Goddard, who makes his directing debut here, penned Lost and Cloverfield, and also involved is Buffy bod Joss Whedon, so you can count on all sorts of confusing bells and whistles being added to what is a simple storyline. Together they do their best to confound your expectations and come up with something that isn’t just a by the numbers frightfest, but despite some smart set-ups it remains shallow and silly.