Nonsensical and patriotic to a ridiculous degree, BATTLESHIP (12: Universal) is a special effects extravaganza that makes up the rules as it goes along.
After Transformers and GI Joe, this is the third Hasbro toy-to-film franchise and it doesn’t mess with a winning format.
Essentially, it’s Transformers at sea with rebellious no-hoper Lt Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), keen to win the respect of his girlfriend’s father, turned into a naval hero who must fight off alien invaders.
These creatures are snake-eyed cyborgs who pilot ocean-hopping spacecraft, armed with giant yo-yo weaponry.
Once he’s got the soap opera out of the way, director Peter (Hancock) Berg delivers grand-scale wanton destruction that’s dumb fun personified.
When in doubt, Berg defaults to disaster mode with CGI vistas nabbed from blockbusters like Titanic, 2012 and Pearl Harbor.
Highlights include the title game replicated as a grid map based on tsunami-warning buoy positions and war veterans wheeled into action to help bomb the aliens’ transmitter.
Alexander Skarsgard and Liam Neeson head the cast, but despite her much-touted appearance, singer Rihanna barely registers as a gung-ho gunner.
> Still on the water, fast-paced futuristic thriller LOCKOUT (15: Entertainment In Video) sees violent inmates take over an experimental prison ship orbiting the Earth.
They hold the US president’s humanitarian-worker daughter (Maggie Grace) among their hostages, so maverick government agent Snow (Guy Pearce), below left, who’s been falsely convicted of espionage and has been offered a pardon, blasts off on a rescue mission.
But have the powers-that-be given him the full picture and what’s really going on in the jail?
All this, on paper, might look like a bog-standard ‘Escape From New York in space’, but the film quickly establishes its own character, thanks mainly to Pearce’s charismatic wisecracking hero and a couple of genuinely chilling adversaries in Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun.
Tension is kept at boiling point with a series of bloody, deftly staged shocks, which help to cover up occasional incredulities in the plot.
> More than 30 years have passed since reggae superstar Bob Marley died of cancer, aged 36, but the legend lives on through his music and iconic image.
After several false starts with other directors, the Marley family approved Kevin Macdonald’s approach as MARLEY (15: Universal), above, traces the story using carefully selected archive footage and interviews.
With a running time of nearly two-and-a-half hours, it’s a leisurely look at the Jamaican musician and celebrity who could quell riots by his very presence.
Designed for fans and the uninitiated alike, there’s no scandal here. Any controversy, such as why his wife, Rita, seems not to have minded his many girlfriends and illegitimate children, is simply shoved aside.
Although this feel-good offering is sure to bring Marley’s music to a new audience, a more informative and critical look at his life would have appealed to those wishing to delve a bit deeper.
> Comedy of manners DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (12: Sony) is an amiably daffy affair in which a group of females at an Ivy League college take it upon themselves to save their fellow students from depression and falling standards of decorum.
Setting the agenda is the domineering Violet (rising star Greta Gerwig), whose forthright opinions are far from conventional.
But does she have the right to organise everyone else’s love lives when her own relationships are far from perfect?
With its ever-so-elegant dialogue and squeaky-clean surroundings, this is light years away from the usual raunchy frat-house frolics.