In 2005 we found a world that could sustain life. In 2006 we tried to contact them. In 2012 they came to visit us. That is the basic setup for this film that is based off an old classic game called BATTLESHIP. In the game you are not able to see the opponents board but you both have the same number of assets in play. Each turn the player will select a point on a grid to see if they hit a ship or not. If they do hit they insert a red peg into that point to signify a hit. It takes several pegs to totally sink a battle ship. The movie, while a science fiction film, does follow that premise in how the battles are fought. The big difference is that when a ship is sunk you get to see spectacular explosions that send bits and pieces of ships all over the ocean. They are massive explosions and actually proportional to the rounds and charges that are being used. We even get to see a real battleship from times gone past enter the fight to save the day.
Sure the science is off in that the closest planet that might hold life is farther away then the time allotted for a transmission to get there. This really wont matter to those how know Sci-Fi is like that at times and still watch the films for the shear enjoyment and entertainment of the show. That is what science fiction is all about, the ability to suspend belief in a possible scientific outcome. We know that eventually something might be possible with science and we don’t mind if it is pulled into play in places where it is not possible. We want the dream to be the reality and enjoy it while we can so that we can feel good about ourselves and those around us. We look forward to the day that these things are possible and yet at the same time it scares the hell out of us at what might be the outcome. It is no different with this film, we want to meet others in the galaxy but it also scares us but we know we must try. Cal Zapata (Hamish Linklater) even says as much at the beginning of the film.
At the same time that NASA is trying to make history we are taken to where two brothers are having a small birthday celebration. Slacker Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) has no direction in life, no job and no prospects. His brother Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård) is in the Navy and wants his brother to either join him or get a job with a construction company that a family member can get him into. Alex could care less and is totally defiant when he sees a beautiful blond walk into the bar looking to have a beer and a chicken burrito. The bar tender takes one look at her and just shuts the microwave telling her the kitchen is closed. Alex sees his chance and goes over to help her out. The bar tender wont budge so he runs across the street to the convenient store to get one. Just as he gets there they are locking the place up. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to impress the girl he breaks in, a very comical scene, and gets a hot chicken burrito to give to her. He is doing this all while being chased by the cops and is even tazed twice to get her her dinner.
The next morning he finds out the girl that he was wanting to impress was none other then the daughter of Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) that commands his fleet that Stone is attached to. Alex doesn’t even register that it might hurt his brother’s career, all he is worried about is that his brother didn’t let him know that he knew Sam (Brooklyn Decker) and didn’t introduce him to her. Stone gets furious with him and tells him that he is going to join him in the Navy or else. Skip ahead to 2012 and we see that Sam and Alex are still together and he is wanting to marry her but she wants him to ask her father first. Considering that Alex is always messing things up he knows that he has to get this right for her, which of course means he screws it up before even trying. The time he is to ask Admiral Shane is during RIMPAC, a massive multi-national Naval war games exercise off the coast of Hawaii. Before he can even ask he gets into trouble and a fight with a Naval officer from Japan named Captain Yugi Nagata (Tadanobu Asano). This same antagonist will later become his closest ally and friend. It is those two that will ultimately save the world.
As I said they incorporated many aspects of the board game into the film, even the grid plotting. Captain Yugi Nagata shows the crew of the John Paul Jones, which Alex now commands, how to hack into the tsunami buoy data from NOAA and then to plot it on a chart grid for targeting references. What they wind up with is an electronic display of a classical BATTLESHIP game board. They use the water displacement readings of each buoy to target their missiles at the enemy alien ships. As you watch the film you even see how the pegs from the game come into play. The rounds that the alien ships use are spun up red and then fired at the ships. Those same rounds look like the pegs that you would use in the game.
To close out the film and its battle sequences, since the destroyer John Paul Jones was cut up and blown up by the alien spinners (They look like Screamer balls from the film of the same name), they use the only ship they have left, the USS Missouri. The Missouri is a decommissioned battleship that is now a museum in Hawaii. It is this ship that they use to take on the command ship that is generating the force field as well as take out the communications array on the big island.
If you love wild explosions and fast moving action then you just will not get enough of this film. If you have to have everything make sense and be scientifically correct then go home and watch a documentary because this film will not be for you. Pure fantastical science fiction and naval battles await those that want to be entertained and have the aliens not be a bunch of acid for blood salivating reptiles. A wildly entertaining film to be sure.
I give this film a Musing review of