Three paragraphs in Guy Lodge‘s Variety review deliver all you need to know about the plotting and the human characteristics in Peter Berg‘s Battleship, which opens overseas in a couple of days. I’ve actually made the three graphs into five.

“Cut to Oahu, Hawaii, where jobless layabout Alex (Taylor Kitsch) is celebrating his 26th birthday in a dive bar with disapproving older brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard), a straitlaced Navy recruit. After Alex commits a drunken infraction designed to impress leggy physiotherapist Samantha (Brooklyn Decker), Stone issues a final-straw demand: Alex is to join him in the Navy.

“In seemingly no time at all, Alex has graduated to lieutenant level despite equally feckless behavior in uniform, and is in a serious relationship with Samantha, whose stern dad (Liam Neeson) just happens to be commander of the Pacific fleet.

“All principals are conveniently involved, then, when Planet G’s alien spacecraft crashes into the Pacific and rises ominously from the depths near the naval base in Oahu. A reconnaissance mission led by Alex and scrappy female officer Raikes (Rihanna) aggravates the visitors into opening fire, setting the stage for a protracted series of back-and-forth pyrotechnic attacks of increasing sound and fury until an abruptly curtailed finale.

“‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this,’ mutters Alex, a veritable Cassandra of the high seas — and that’s after two destroyer ships have already been blown to smithereens. Bright enough to quote Homer back at his commanding officer, but dim enough to think the Japanese wrote ‘The Art of War’, he’s too blandly inscrutable a hero to root for with much enthusiasm, which goes for most of the characters.

“The exception is Decker’s Samantha, who’s so unctuously inexpressive, we might actively root for her demise under one of the enemy’s flaming razor-balls.”