Alien invasion, serial killings, mutant attacks -- scary stuff comes to local discount theaters in bunches this weekend. ---
The scariest thing about Battleship for its distributor, Universal Pictures, turned out to be the amount of money it looks to lose on the box-office disappointment "inspired" by the famous board game. But the whole movie -- including the alien-invasion premise, with a perpetual screw-up soldier (Taylor Kitsch) one of the last men standing between the Earth and a hostile extra-terrestrial force -- plays like a grand send-up of the entire Michael Bay filmography: Transformers, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, etc. The awkward attempt to both chuckle at over-the-top action movies and be an over-the-top action movie wasn't entirely successful, but it's worth a second chance.
More deserving of its lack of success was The Raven, which cast John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in a speculative account of the author's final days involving his pursuit of a serial killer. The ridiculously literal brutality combines with Cusack's uncomfortable performance to generate something that's trying hard to make its exploitation roots classy and failing miserably.
Also new at the dollar houses: The horror tale Chernobyl Diaries sends American tourists into the area devastated by the nuclear accident's fallout, with not-creepy-enough results; and the comedic self-help book Think Like a Man becomes a broad ensemble comedy that CW's Eric D. Snider described as "breezily inoffensive ... but also drastically overlong, burdened by too many stories about too many couples who are too one-dimensional to be relatable."