The premise: Well, the board game pretty much had no award winning plot. Something, I'm sure this movie will happily keep in common. It was designed for you and a friend.. or enemy.. or complete stranger.. to practice Naval Strategy in your very own living room. How anyone got a story out of that, I'll never know. But I'm glad they did!
Here's the deal, based entirely on a conversation between me and my wife: 35 years ago, three guys sat down to play a rousing game of Battleship, the phenomenally, hugely, successful game of Naval strategy released by Milton Bradley in 1931. Two brothers and a young Irishman. One of the brothers said to the second that someone should turn Battleship into a movie. Of course, the third guy scoffed and said, "It can't be done!" To which guy number one replied, "I bet you a million dollars it can. And me and my brother will be the ones to do it!" We now know guy number three as "Liam Neeson", and those young gentlemen who turned this game of chance and skill into a movie (and won a million dollars and got a starring role out of Liam Neeson to boot)? Erich and Jon Hoeber, the writers of the screenplay.
As the trailer starts up, dun dun dun, a rocking opening sets us on what I am assuming a sea gull's aerial path across the bows of the (probably) USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), the USS Antietam (CG 54), and the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62). (I may be wrong, but I'm not.. stop questioning me!) In a sweet juxtaposition, we are treated with what I think is the Waikiki skyline and, sadly, just a lonely, single rainbow. Not an "O.M.F.G. DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!!!!" (sad face) Then it's right back to the grind with the always bad ass USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) just sitting wherever it feels in the ocean. Then we flip back to the beautiful Hawaiian setting with some girl sitting on her surfboard, doing her best Uss Ronald Reagan impression. I assume her story is that she just broke up with her long term boyfriend and needed to go to Hawaii and learn how to surf from Paul Rudd in sort of an opposite Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and more in an exactly Forgetting That Psycho Who Stalked Me kind of way. The energy at this point in the trailer is so high, though, we can't be bogged down in this minor story line that probably won't even make the final cut of this movie that is based on a board game that had no plot anyway..
This all leads to our first shot of our heroes: Alex Hopper, played by T.V.'s Taylor Kitsch and Sam, played by the strangely attractive Brooklyn Decker.. i say strangely attractive because, though, not UN-attractive, I am not attracted to her, but apparently many people are.. I digress. Brooklyn Decker is clearly in the role of Liv Tyler's character in Armageddon. The exchange between Alex and Sam kind of goes like this:
Sam: "What are you doing tomorrow?
Alex: "I'm gonna tell your dad how I feel about you. And I don't care if it adversely affects my career, the future of our relationship, or the fact that your dad is Liam 'Now is not the time for d**k measuring, Stewart' Neeson!"
Based on the facts, I'd say this guy is kinda f***ed. I once saw Liam Neeson (who plays Admiral Shane) kill 32 people (http://www.moviebodycounts.com), the last time someone messed with his daughter. So, some wet behind the ears officer is probably no match. This is further proven by the Irish-brogue tongue lashing he gets in the next scene by the aforementioned "Neeson." (and at this point, I will be putting "Liam Neeson" in quotes, because I like my "Neesons" to be ironic "Neesons") Clearly Admiral Shane feels that a young man who becomes an officer faster than anyone in the history of the world (part one), and shaves his head (probably lice), wears sunglasses (his future is just too bright), skulks around like Gollum during Naval ceremonies, or plays rugby (the worst offense of them all), is just not good enough for his daughter. And rightfully so. I don't think I would question "Liam Neeson", even if he told me to slip n slide on concrete. Without water. Or a slip n slide. Basically, he's just telling me to get a running start and just slide on my naked chest and belly on concrete.. I'd still do it!
After the verbal abuse, it looks like action is about to be in everyone's near future, as Sam leers from shore and Alex from the ship pulling away (Alex is, I've read, going to be on the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)) The Navy.. and I am, of course, assuming the entire Navy, is off to do some "Naval exercises". They are lovely, decked out in their Tropical Whites (not as racist as it sounds). Then, like Doogie Howser, we are treated to some electronic typing, letting the audience know that we are on an "International Naval Drill" somewhere in the "Pacific Ocean", and the words "Day 1" side note: this "Day 1" seems to be hinting that there will be more than one day. I'm call it right now, someone's Battleship will be sunk by Day 6.. and Liam Neeson had better be the one to say, "They sunk my Battleship!" (go on.. it's okay to admit you read that in Liam Neeson's voice) Before any of that can happen, however, we have to have a reason for that classic Milton-Bradl-onian line to be said. And when an unknown object in the middle of the Pacific Ocean comes into play, I am sure that will be the catalyst. It is!
Investigating the unknown object is a difficult task, as apparently no one in the Navy can do it except our rebellious, wasted-potential having young protagonist, Alex Hopper, and a small task force. In what I can only describe as completely reckless (pun intended), he jumps onto the wreck-age. I'd like to think that whatever is in the water gives him the abilities of Jesus, because he walks directly on said water, and then decides to lay hands on a completely foreign looking metal. Sure enough, you guessed it, this completely pays off. I mean.. completely gets him electrocuted. The team scrambles to get him into the boat and back to the ship. Before this can happen, Transformers 4: The Rise of Cobra explodes out of the water menacingly. The special effects are actually really well done. (I meant that as little underhanded compliment-y as possible.. while still using the word "actually" to deliver the compliment.) We do end up with a pretty good sense of scale here as we see a dome reach up into and beyond our troposphere, maybe even all the way into the stratosphere, MAYBE EVEN TO THE MOON!!!!! One may never know.. This IS an impressive feat, however, because the powerful surge reaches up *from* Earth, implying these things (this thing?) have (has?) been laying dormant like a gargantuan Dino-zord that time forgot. A Dino-zord, I may add, that is extremely bored, because it lazily leaps all Free Willy style over the small task force and then launches hundreds of PEGS out from an overhead shot like we just happened to stumble upon two massive Jupiter sized children playing the titular game on their newfangled 3D globe board.
The trailer really down plays Alexander Skarsgård's character. He apparently plays Alex Hopper's older brother, Stone. Yes, his name is Stone Hopper. Basically everybody's favorite waterfront past time. Based solely on the amount they show him in the trailer, I assume he is in the movie a total of 10 minutes in a few scenes and then dies sacrificing himself. (this paragraph added for a Alexander Skarsgård fangirl. ;P)
At this point, we reach the part of the preview that I always look forward to: the moment when whichever character about whatever situation delivers the best line ever. The line that, when you hear it in the theater, you get goose-bumps.. you sit in your chair, waiting with bated breath, and then it comes: the "I'm going to find you, and I'm going to kill you", the utterly ridiculous, "Release the Kraken!", the powerful, "If you make yourself more than just a man, then you make yourself something else entirely... a legend.", the nostalgic, "I love it when a plan comes together.", the not even a line, but still goose-bump inducing, lion roar!!! Adding now:
Admiral Shane: "Prepare to fire!"
shipmate: "Sir, which weapons?"
Admiral Shane: "All of them."
BOOM! "Liam Neeson" continues to be the man, even when saying these fat meatball lines, the latest telegraphed from every losing commander's mouth. The weapons fire, the screen explodes with those wonderful, familiar letters "B-A-T-T-L-E-S-H-I-P" and then May 2012. We have just under a year before getting those goose-bumps and seeing "Liam Neeson" paying up for whatever bet he lost. I will say one thing, I am glad he lost that bet, because this movie is going to be so terribly fantastic, that I don't even have to cross my fingers hoping I will think my 10 dollars will be worth it.