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Monday, April 23, 2012

(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 21 April 2012, retrieved from

Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna,Tadanobu Asano
Director: Peter Berg
Rating: 2 stars
What do you expect from a movie that begins with a wooing-gone-wrong centred around chicken burrito, and, going by its name, will eventually involve aliens-gone-bad landing on the planet and attacking American soldiers for all they’re worth?
Of course, the wastrel who’s in trouble with cops at the start has to turn hero. Of course, he has a solid-as-a-rock brother (called Stone). Of course, the noble leaders have to die. Of course, the hot chick has to end up with the hero. Of course, Liam Neeson is hot. Sigh. Liam Neeson in uniform is hotter. Bigger sigh. Huh? Back on track. Of course, the dialogues have to be awful. Of course, the acting has to be wooden. Of course, the clichés and excruciating wordplay will ram down harder and faster than alien missiles. Of course, this includes sworn enemy heroes turning BFFs. Of course, this also includes a rusty ship and its rustier crew coming to the rescue. Of course, at the end, you’re wondering whether you should stand up and sing the American national anthem.
Full disclosure: I don’t play video games, and I had no clue this film was based on one till my brother told me so, with extreme disgust. What I like most about video games is that the Princess isn’t seen unless the player is truly skilled (That still holds, right?) But here, we run into Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) up front. I honestly wish we had action movies sans women. Especially sans daughters of tough seamen who double as nurses for daddy’s friends. Another thing about video games is that the enemy will hunt you down. Here, this largely incompetent guy sneaks into the camp and makes away with this crucial thingy, and the alien who spots him just stops short of lighting up a ciggie and whistling.
Like you need me to tell you the plot. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a firebrand – and nincompoop. His chick is pretty. His bro is awesome. Her dad is scary – and hot. He’s Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). Hopper gets into a brawl with the captain (Tadanobu Asano) of a Japanese ship. They both get into a brawl with aliens whom the NASA has sent out a mating call to.
Yes, there are spectacular sets and an overdose of CGI. But the movie is painfully long. I mean, two hours and eleven minutes. Twenty years ago, Shahrukh Khan would’ve stuttered his way through pissing off his heroine, endearing himself to her, and impressing her parents in that time. And Liam Neeson, who’s the only leer-worthy individual in this film, doesn’t appear quite as much as I’d’ve liked. Throw in Rihanna and AC/DC guitar riffs, and you realise why the producer decided to direct the film himself – it has to be the most expensive alien movie made, and that’s saying something.
Verdict: If you’re out of something to watch, well, leave your brains behind at the ticket counter, and you’ll probably enjoy it. Or, buy last row corner seats for yourself and a partner, and chances are you’ll probably enjoy it more.


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