Battleship is a wonderful old game that actually has been played in one form or another since the turn of the twentieth century. First on paper, then on published paper, then - in 1967 - as a board game, then as Electronic Battleship in 1977. I started playing it when it was the board game. Hardly a board, it was two notebook like shells which contained peg-board grids. You placed you five ships on the lower grid and you place your shots pegs in the vertical grid. Neither player could see the others board as the idea was to call out the grid positions you are aiming for while your opponent replied hit or miss.


It is a nifty game of strategy; the player who sank all of the other players pieces won. The five ships each player had was: one aircraft carrier, one battleship, one submarine, one destroyer and one PT boat. The aircraft carrier was always the easiest to find because it was so big, the PT the hardest. My experience was that the person who found the PT boat first usually won the game.


Though the aircraft carrier is the most valuable ship in every fleet, the old battleships were always the heart and soul. They were guns and armor, built to take on entire fleets if necessary. They were built for naval superiority. Alas, they faded from use with the increase of guided missiles. The last two battleships decommissioned by the US Navy were the Iowa and Wisconsin.

For those who played the old Battleship game, many probably wondered why their are aliens in the new film "Battleship". It seems Hasbro didn't want to offend any of our former enemies - who are now financial partners - so they picked on fictional aliens. For those who wondered how it would work; that it would never make a transition - rest assured it is actually rather brilliant.


Written by Erich and Jon Hoeber ("Red") while directed by Peter Berg ("Friday Night Lights", "Hancock") the film revolves around two brothers Stone and Alex Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch respectively) - one is a respected naval commander, the other a total slacker. After getting into legal trouble over a girl (Brooklyn Decker) who happens to be an admiral's daughter - Stone compels his brother to join the navy to develop better character.


Fast forward and Alex has made it to lieutenant, but still undisciplined and now dating the admiral's (Lian Neeson) daughter. Stationed in Hawaii, they are participating in international war games after a celebration commemorating the USS Missouri (The battleship on which Japan surrendered in WWII) when the aliens attack. The aliens were summoned by a NASA deep space greeting.


A cluster of alien ships has landed in the Pacific ocean just outside Oahu and switched on a energy field around Oahu and three ships separated from the war games - both brother on board.

Then begins a battle between the three destroyers and the four alien ships. the alien ships having superior technology and firepower.


It turns out this group of alien ships are merely there to signal back to their planet where to come and conquer Earth. It will be up to the three destroyers to stop them with the undisciplined brother - Alex - winding up leading the way (natch).


Meanwhile the admiral is helpless as his entire fleet is blocked from the action and his daughter and a double-amputee race against time to stop a splinter group of aliens from taking over a group of radars on a nearby mountain.


Okay, that parts is pretty hokey and yes there are the plenty of other implausible situations - at least a dozen or so of the top of my head... but that's okay. We all know that bullets will not defeat photon torpedoes, but in Hollywood anything can happen.


This isn't a film that is going to give you great acting, but even Rihanna has her moments as a navy bad ass. Brooklyn Decker in her one of two films opening simultaneously (the other is What to Expect When You're Expecting") does her sexiest best. Kitsch is infin-

itely better in this than in the flop "John Carter". The rest are well cast and appropriate. But it is the story that makes this a winner.


"Battleship" is big time fun and may even have you cheering at the end as in "Independence Day". For old time Battleship game players it actually works as an alien sci-fi actioner and may have you digging through the closet for that great old game.   -- GEOFF BURTON