Taylor Kitsch (whose name I've always found wonderfully appropriate to his acting) plays a chronic screwup whose older brother finally basically forces him to join the Navy. Because of course at twenty-six years old, you're still obligated to do everything that your older siblings say. But hey, leaving that aside, we're brought to present day, where screwup kid is now a...Weapons Master? On some ship or other. But he's still a screwup, still playing at being an adult, and of course he's in love with the Lieutenant Commander's daughter. Because why wouldn't he be.
There's the usual shots of beautiful Hawaii. The whole world's navies have gathered for something called RIMPAC exercises, like war games. I keep wanting to call them RIMSHOT exercises.
Out in the water, our Hero (named...Hopper, for some reason) has been informed that due to his hijinks, once the rimshot exercises are over, he's going to be kicked out of the Navy. So of course we know that whatever's going to happen will happen before he gets home, because God forbid he lose his job for being a perpetual loser who refuses to straighten out.
There are several scenes of big brother reaming idiot brother out for being such a loser. This pretty much guarantees that big brother is going to bite it, thus giving Our Hero the motivation to kick alien ass. Also, the "bite it" reference made me laugh because I just realized that big brother is Alex Skarsgaard, aka Erik on True Blood.
Oh hey, alien attack! Lots of flaming debris and people screaming and dying! These giant alien warships are now...hovering...on top of the waves. Because reasons. And now it's hopping across the water. Because that's much more efficient than, I dunno...sailing? This feels more like "hey, we've got CGI and we know how to use it".
And there goes his brother. Complete with soulful look across the waves at Our Hero right before the ship goes blooey.
The one interesting thing so far is that the aliens are taking out technology and not humans unless directly attacked by said humans. So is this going to be a morality tale on how technology is Bad and we should all return to Nature?
Requisite "They killed my brother!" line, complete with extra pathos: check.
Next plot point achieved - gorgeous blond girlfriend is hiking in the mountains with a double amputee (she's a physical therapist, try and keep up). Lots of explosions. "Hey, let's go get a look at the aliens!" AS YOU WOULD.
Sidenote: Rihanna can't act. At all.
Giant razorballs! Bounding through Honolulu and taking out bridges, overpasses, and the occasional Marine helicopter! But of course it stops right before it kills a kid in the middle of a Little League game. On another sidenote, how come kids never die in these type of films? If you really want us to hate the aliens, have 'em smoke a coupla kids! Do I have to do your jobs for you??
There's some hushed and intense talk between Our Hero and a Japanese commander, something about buoys and how they can use them to target and fight the enemy. I didn't really follow it because there were no explosions accompanying, so I nodded off for a few minutes.
Cut to several jeeps having been blown up. Add in a shot of a few wild horses peacefully munching the plant life twenty feet away. Because in my nearly twenty years of owning horses, my experience is definitely that horses are completely unfazed by loud explosions and huge fires. (Dammit, we are in desperate need of a sarcasm font.) Note to film-makers: Horses are prey animals. This means that when things go splodey, they're gonna run faster than cheese through a H'san. FACT.
Oh hey, the aliens are susceptible to bright sunlight! So let's SHOOT OUT THEIR WINDOWS and call it a day. Nice job, second alien ship shot to pieces due to a little good ol' American ingenuity. Although the Japanese guy did most of it.
More razorballs, this time shredding the ship. Of course Our Intrepid Hero of the High Cheekbones survives by jumping off a fifty foot height into the water.
Girlfriend and amputee on the mountain see his ship go down. More pathos. And some scenes of the survivors in the water, dramatic speech by the Cheekbones.
Oh look, we're going the whole "newfangled technology is Bad, the old ways were better" route. Let's use the seventy year old battleship and a bunch of old men to fight the big bad aliens. Shit, Cheekbones is talking again. Shut up and look pretty, would you?
(By the way, the whole "Old technology is better than new" was done WAY better by Battlestar Galactica, if you want to see it done right. Thank me later.)
Cue inspirational music as the grand dame sails out to sea. I love that Our Hero has read Art of War five times and yet is still a total screwup. Most screwups I know don't read Sun frickin' Tzu.
Oh no. They didn't. Did they really just drop their port anchor and make the ship slew around in the water like a frickin' rally car doing a J-turn? That's just...I don't even...I can't words.
Whew. More explosions. Back on familiar ground.
Aw...the amputee's found his reason to live and he's going to sacrifice himself so the pretty blonde can live. Epic brodown, alien versus man with no legs, film at eleven! And hey, the cowardly scientist saves him at the last minute! (I didn't mention him earlier because he just hasn't been relevant to the "plot" up till now.)
While we're at it, what's with the epic chinwigs these aliens are sporting? That's some funky do's right there.
Requisite "It was an honor serving with you" line right before firing their final salvo and thus saving the day: check.
Hey, the Air Force decided to join the party! They must have stopped for drive-through. And thus the day is saved. And of course Our Hero of the High-and-Mighty Cheekbones receives a promotion and the approval of the head honcho of the Navy.
Really, I'm a little surprised, okay, a lot surprised, that Liam Neeson attached his name to this hilariously festering pile of poo.
And that's a wrap. I need a cigarette.
P.S. Really. LOOK at those cheekbones.