You already know, from the trailers, that it’s one of those alien-invasion movies. Count on lots of combat scenes, explosions, gritty heroes and the world made safe for the Facebook IPO.
So do we even try to attract a little wider audience (that is, anybody besides young males who like to see things go bang)? Well, yes, we try so hard that we almost wonder when we’re going to get to the real action.
Taylor Kitsch (of “John Carter” notoriety, and born in Canada) plays Alex, the young rebel who has a big brother (Alexander Skarsgard, born in Sweden) in the military, and so, not knowing what else to do with his slacker-life, he enlists in the Navy, also. And promptly falls in love with the admiral’s daughter.
Liam Neeson, veteran Irish character actor, probably wasn’t the best choice as the straight-edge admiral in the American Navy. Somehow he looks like an actor wearing a uniform, rather than a uniform that exudes the commanding presence of the career military man wearing it. As for his daughter, Brooklyn Decker, well, she’s the “it” model right now. We’re still not sure if she can act, since she really wasn’t asked to do anything except pose and deliver lines. But she just might be able to earn some real acting chops later; she’s not a complete disaster.
The American military is. Or at least those parts that not only got caught completely off-guard by the invasion, but also, once the fighting started, got its Navy running at such close quarters that it managed to get trapped in a kind of invisible wall that the space invaders were able to throw up around it. So that leaves only….you guessed it, our antihero, Alex. And his motley little crew of bravehearts, including, interestingly enough, some “old salt” World War II vets, a few active-duty Japanese naval officers, and also Rihanna (born in Barbados), the incredibly successful singer/model/pop star who “plays down” her natural beauty as Petty Officer Cora “Weps” Raikes. She might be on her way to a real acting career, also.
Oh, and before we get to all the explosions, we even try to develop a story line. A set of nerdy American scientists (headed by Adam Godley, born in England), searching for a planet in the solar system with the climate most like the Earth, actually finds one, and sends it a signal through deep space, just seeking to make contact. The aliens follow the signal to us in order to colonize and conquest. Oh, and they resemble us, all right, but with snapper-hands and reptilian eyes, and the technology to make “Ironman”-type armor for themselves, which makes them difficult to fight against. Except, of course, our intrepid antihero won’t give up without a fight, and he soon learns that the enemy aliens do, indeed, have an exploitable weakness.
OK, now we can go about blowing up stuff, and hapless ordinary citizens scream themselves silly and try ineffectually to run away from the mayhem. But we all know how it’s going to end. What could be better than waving the flag, receiving a medal and getting the girl?
Well, they at least tried to introduce a story line. And just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. But, just curious – whose idea was it to avoid casting Americans?
Ronald P. Salfen is interim pastor of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.