GENRE: Action sci-fi
THE PITCH: NASA scientist slingshot a message into deep space towards a "goldilocks planet" in deep space. Years later an alien race venture to Earth and position themselves in the Pacific ocean a few miles away from Hawaii, where the signal originated from. Navy vessels participating in war game exercises make first contact and become the first line of defense as humanity fends off an alien invasion. The film is inspired by Hasbro's Battleship board game.
MONEY SHOT: Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) accidentally alerts the aliens of their proximity to the sunken ships. Underwater, the sunken alien monoliths start to light up and three vessels detach and move towards the surface of the Pacific. The water starts to churn and the alien ships surface. As they surface, the spacecrafts morph into otherworldly sea-faring ships, the shape resembles a large metallic manta ray. Not sure what just happened the Navy opens fire and the ships shift into a defensive mode bearing several large turrets and returns a deadly barrage of not-so-space age munitions.
BEST LINE: Screw up Alex Hopper is ever under the gaze of his older brother Captain Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) who tenders a couple of impressive lines to his persistently disappointing brother. Before Alex blows out the candle on his birthday cupcake Stone pleads, "Don't waste your wish on a girl, wish for a job." After another mishap his brother finds himself in, a frustrated and dismayed Stone asks, "Who do I have to call to teach you humility - I don't have that number?"
DID HE SAY GOLDILOCKS PLANET? Yup, that's what the Dr. Nogrady (Adam Godley), the man behind the Beacon project said. For the non-astronomers, a goldilocks planet is a world that exists with what they call a habitable zone an area around a star that can provide adequate atmospheric pressure and water. The goldilocks part comes from the zone being not too hot, not too cold, but just right. So you see its prime real estate for an alien invasion.
THE F-BOMB: No profanity is spewed during the film, instead whenever someone begins to spout an expletive, something blows up. When a ship captain sees the end is nigh as the spacecraft start their attack, he starts to say "Oh Fu ... " but its cut off as a ship is destroyed. Right before Petty Officer Cora Raikes (Rihanna), fires from her turret, she says, "Mahalo Mutha Fu ... " but again it gets cut off as we hear and see the gun blast.
FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS REUNION: Kitsch is best know for his role of Tim Riggins on the critically acclaimed, yet poorly watched series Friday Night Lights, but it seems director Peter Berg who directed several episodes of the show wanted to bring the team back together. Jesse Plemons who plays Seaman Jimmy Ord and Rico McClinton who plays Captain Browley also have FNL roots.
GAME BUOY: Wondering how they incorporate the classic board game into a $200 million film? Consider the game elements: the grid, the ships and the white and red pegs that signify bomb hits and misses. To reveal any more would be a spoiler, but I can say that thanks to a little known Federal agency Captain Hopper and his ragtag group of survivors get to play a stealthy round of the game.
SHIP SHAPES: Unlike the board game, only three of the five ships were featured in this film. Captain Stone Hopper helms a destroyer, Admiral Shane is perched on an aircraft carrier and Alex Hopper gets to captain the U.S.S. Missouri, a battleship.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Whenever anyone needs to quench a thirst, there seemed to be a lot of Coke Zero on hand. The no-cal soda makes an appearance three times, but when a Hawaiian spectator stops to understand the island is under attack, she slowly stops sipping from her Subway drink.
BOTTOM LINE: Okay, okay, we knew this was going to be a stretch turning a board game into a movie, but did it have to be so bad? If you forget its game origin, the premise is actually interesting, but its all the other missteps that sinks this ship. Writing duo Eric and Jon Hoeber seemed to have struggled with developing characters to layer on top the myriad of CGI rich action scenes the comprise the bulk of the film. In doing so it becomes a hodge-podge of uninteresting characters and ridiculous dialog. For instance, Kitsch's loser-turn-hero Alex is irritating at best. He adds no personality to connect to and his string of one-liners are just too laughable to take seriously. Director Peter Berg does make an impressive attempt to appeal to our inner child - the part that likes seeing cool robots, big ships and lots of stuff blowing up, but the plot is simply so implausible its basically tortuous to watch. Its hard too stomach as the film limps from scene to laborious scene.
Battleship at its heart is an immature, explosive misadventure whose payload offers a whole lot of boom, but unfortunately delivers no bang.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.