• Battleship
  • Taylor Kitsch looks intense in Battleship
  • An alien in Battleship
  • Things explode real good in Battleship

Get on board this explosive sci-fi blockbuster
A massive sci-fi blockbuster directed by the guy with the funny teeth from Chicago Hope, starring the dude from John Carter and based the classic Hasbro board game. When aliens launch a sneaky attack from the depths of the ocean before trapping a fleet of warships in a giant bubble, it’s up to the US navy to give them a good old fashioned Earth welcome. With artillery.

The latest action blockbuster has its roots not in an adaptation of a much loved novel or even a big budget reboot of some aging TV show but rather in the deep recesses of the toy chest. Say hello to Battleship.

That’s right, there’s a $200 million dollar event movie on the way which was directly inspired by a board game. You remember the one – in its simplest iteration, players use two pieces of paper to mark out a grid and place their fleet on it, taking it in turns to call out grid locations until one side is obliterated. The board itself has been refined over the years, with talking versions and even one you can download to your iPhone but the basic concept remains the same.

The classic board game. Note the lack of aliens.
The classic board game. Note the lack of aliens.Enlarge Enlarge

It might seem like an odd starting point for a movie but Hasbro has been down this road before with the massively successful Transformers series – a trilogy that has earned over $2.5 billion to date in ticket sales alone. Of course, the Transformer line has a deep inbuilt mythology based on decades of TV shows, films and even graphic novels. Here’s where the filmmakers come in.

Hasbro and Universal Studios turned to comic book and scriptwriting siblings Jon and Erich Hoeber to bring the boardgame to life. The pair have previously worked on Kate Beckinsale starrer Whiteout and geriatric action flick RED but had a much wider canvass for their latest effort. They decided to re-imagine the faceless combatants of Battleship as two sides in an interstellar war which is being fought on our planet.

The plot for Battleship runs thusly. A promising but uncommitted young naval officer finds himself on a routine exercise in the Pacific when an investigation into a mysterious object causes his nearby fleet and himself to be trapped inside a massive bubble. With the world under siege by a terrifying alien race, a small group of humans are all that stand in the way of humanity’s destruction. There’s also a neat twist on the restrictive mechanics of the board game that’s best left for audiences to discover on their own.

The Rock in Welcome to the Jungle
The Rock in Welcome to the JungleEnlarge Enlarge
Director Peter Berg was brought on board to visualise the large scale scenes of destruction and we can think of few men better suited to the task. Originally an actor who made his debut on the 21 Jump Street TV show back in 1988, Berg also appeared in The Last Seduction and Cop Land before starting a four year run as Dr. Billy Kronk on Chicago Hope. It was on that show that he made his first foray into directing, before taking on his first feature Very Bad Things in 1998. He went on to deliver the likes of Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom and Hancock but in the Click offices he will always be remembered for 2003s The Rundown. The film starred Sean William Scott and the Rock in an utterly insane action film that bizarrely failed to even make back its production budget worldwide. Seek it out.

Berg has been on the verge of the big time for some years now, coming close with the ultimately disappointing Hancock, and he’s the ideal person to bring Battleship to vivid life. His aesthetic has some commonalities with that of Michael Bay (which I mean as a compliment) and he’s shown his affinity for action before, as well as a better command of character than many of his peers, perhaps due to his years as an actor.

For his lead role, Peter Berg didn’t have to look far. After dozens of auditions, he chose young Taylor Kitsch to come on board as naval officer Alex Hopper. The two go way back, with the latter chosen in 2006 to lead the cast of the Friday Night Lights TV show, a spin off from Berg’s own movie which he created and wrote on for several years. The exposure on the show has undoubtedly contributed to Kitsch’s recent rise to prominence, taking on John Carter earlier in the year and appearing in Oliver Stone’sSavages later in 2012.

Taylor Kitsch in Battleship. Shouting something heroic.
Taylor Kitsch in Battleship. Shouting something heroic.Enlarge Enlarge

Kitsch is joined by one of our favourite humans, Liam Neeson, as fleet the fleet Admiral who has more than one reason to dislike Hopper – he’s lazy and he’s engaged to his daughter, played by Brooklyn Decker. The veteran actor, who has appeared in a massive nine films in the last three years, didn’t take much convincing to come on board Battleship: “Pete Berg called me up and said, “Do you want to be the Admiral of the Fleet?” I said, “What is that?” He said, “You get to call the shots, you get to come to Hawaii for a few days, and everybody salutes you.”

In addition to Decker, you’ll also find Alexander ‘son of Stellan’ Skarsgard on board as Hopper’s brother Stone who had a deadpan reaction when asked if he was familiar with the board game as a child: “Yes, but it was the old-school one with pegs, not the electronic version. I remember eating the pegs in kindergarten. They were delicious (laughs).”

Finally for the main cast, music fans will be interested to know that multiple Grammy Award winning singer Rihanna will be making not only her movie debut but also her acting debut in Battleship as tough Petty Officer Raikes. The 24 year old Barbadian jumped at the chance to play a bad ass in the film and always wanted to try her hand at acting: “and I never knew whether I would like it, hate it, or love it, but I just wanted to try it. It ended up being a really awesome experience!”

BattleshipEnlarge Enlarge

Battleship may have its roots in the toy chest but there’s nothing childish about this big screen blockbuster which brings visceral action and sci-fi elements to the screen in spectacular fashion.

Battleship is in cinemas from the 11th of April.

Battleship on
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