"Battleship" (PG-13): First a board game, then something to play on computers and video screens, "Battleship" has now been beefed up into a surprisingly exciting movie, with decently developed characters and pretty thrillingly conceived action sequences. Teens into war movies, action flicks and anything about space aliens will have fun at this.
Attracted by a signal sent into space by scientists looking for intelligent life "out there," alien invaders slam into the Pacific during a huge international naval exercise off Hawaii. And they're not friendly. There's news of Hong Kong being attacked, and now the action is just off Oahu, with the aliens' strange looking ships setting up a force field that isolates several U.S. destroyers. The battle to save Earth engages our present-day fleet versus the aliens' scarily destructive and more advanced weapons. The old USS Missouri and some equally aged veterans also join the fray for the finale. At the center of this is Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a screw-up who's on the verge of being tossed out of the Navy when the attack occurs. As the senior surviving officer on the USS John Paul Jones, it's up to Hopper to face down the invading force. He gets help from Petty Officer Cora Raikes (pop singer Rihanna), a smart-mouth weapons specialist. His girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker), a rehab therapist and admiral's (Liam Neeson) daughter, is on Oahu with Lt. Col. Mick Canales (real-life Army Col. Gregory D. Gadson, an Iraq War vet who lost both legs). They confront the aliens at a satellite communications station. The aliens will use it to call for reinforcements, unless Hopper can destroy it with missiles.
The film almost never depicts graphic injuries, but it's clear that some people are killed. The only moments that might be too upsetting for middle schoolers are in a rehab center where real veteran amputees with exposed stumps and scars are seen learning to use prosthetic limbs. And unlike many other films in the genre, when humans confront the aliens at close range, the invaders, in their metallic suits and helmets, almost never kill humans unless the humans attack first. They and their lizard eyes are more interested in our technology. The film includes occasional strong, partially muffled profanity and mild sexual innuendo. Characters briefly drink, and there's brief implied nudity.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting" (PG-13): Several couples, wed and unwed, contemplate parenthood in this star-studded anthology film, a rather smug, sporadically funny comedy. It's a fictional tale inspired by the popular advice book of the same name by Heidi Murkoff. High schoolers, prepped by reality TV, may find the travails of the five couples in the movie of passing interest, despite the sparse laughs and forced-seeming emotions.
The dialogue features crass language dealing with bodily functions, midrange profanity, and sexual innuendo that is steamy enough to put the film in R-ish territory at times. Two birth scenes are verbally, but not visually, graphic. The script includes detailed talk about breast-feeding, and even more graphic talk about the discomforts of pregnancy, from flatulence to bladder control. One toddler on the dudes' group walks keeps falling down, but he's always OK.