In my summer movie preview a couple weeks ago, I wondered how a board game centered around putting red pegs on a grid of warring navy ships could ever be transformed into a successful aliens-attack action flick. Guess what? Director Peter Berg somehow figured out how to do it. Holy sh*t is this movie a lot of fun. It's big, it's loud, and it's ridiculous, but it's also kind of ridiculously awesome.
Let's start with the real stars of this film: the badass American war ships that do battle in the Pacific Ocean with the alien crafts from Planet G that are apparently determined to destroy the world. There's something awesome about watching America's fleet -- with their missiles, torpedoes, and guns — inflicting serious damage on their counterparts without the help of any fake, bullsh*t weaponry. It more than makes up for the film's minimal hand-to-hand combat, and makes you proud that we've got the greatest Navy in the world — and apparently universe.
As far as those steering the ships and firing the guns, Berg chose wisely by casting his "Friday Night Lights" star Taylor ("Riggins") Kitsch as the hero. He's brash, funny, and the guy you want to share a beer or burrito with after a long day on the battlefield. I don't care about "John Carter" — I'd pick Kitsch as the next great Hollywood action star over most of the other young guns out there.
His girlfriend, back on land, is played by Brooklyn Decker, who's stunning, of course, but also holds her own in the acting department. (Seriously.) She teams up with real-life war vet Colonel Gregory D. Gadson ("Mick") to lay a whooping on some humanish ETs and help save the day. (Kudos to Berg for casting a ton of veterans in the movie.)
Rihanna, her hotness perfectly and perpetually framed by a baseball cap, is a convincing weapons specialist, while Jesse Plemons (Landry from "FNL") provides his signature comic relief and some skills of his own. Tadanobu Asano, as the leader of a Japanese fleet who joins forces with teh Americans, rounds out the central cast and figures out how to track down the alien ships in a pretty ingenious plot device (hat tip to screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber) that'll make you laugh and cheer and just be glad that Hollywood made a pretty great summer blockbuster out of that board game you always skipped over to play Monopoly. Which, naturally, is also eventually heading to a theater near you.