As the opening describes, “In 2005, Scientists discovered a distant planet believed to have a climate nearly identical to earth. In 2006, NASA built a transmission device five times more powerful than any before it, and a program to contact the planet began. It was known as the Beacon Project”. Sending a signal into space, might sound like a good idea but that assumes that whomever you contact is friendly. When five objects are discovered to be heading toward Earth, following the path of the signal, everyone begins to realize that a meeting with an alien culture might be dangerous. Soon after their arrival, it becomes clear that the visitors do not have good intentions.
Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård) is one of two brothers – the “good boy” who is an officer in the Navy. The “bad boy” is his brother Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch). He begins the film with long hair and a scruffy look and is celebrating his birthday in a bar when a beautiful young woman named Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker) enters his life. She has come to the bar seeking a drink and a chicken burrito. The bartender proclaims the kitchen closed, and Alex promises to get her that burrito. He fulfills his promise by breaking into a nearby convenience store, getting chased by the police and finally shocked to the ground by a taser. He does manage to give Samantha that burrito.
Sitting in a tub full of ice the next morning, soaking his wounds, Alex is scolded by Stone who tells him that Samantha is the daughter of Admiral Shane. He is furious that his brother’s antics could affect his own life and career and he determines to make Alex’s decisions for him. The first thing he decides is that Alex is joining him in the Navy. Fast forward and Alex is now an officer and the RIMPAC naval exercises are taking place. Alex has excelled in the Navy but has not lost his disregard for rules. He wants to ask Samantha’s father, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), for permission to marry her. Instead he gets in a fight with a competitor and is told he will be kicked out of the Navy when the RIMPAC exercises conclude.
Alex and Stone are on separate ships maneuvering in open water when the aliens land. The new arrivals generate an impenetrable shield which keeps most of the fleet separated from Alex, Stone and Captain Nagata’s ship (the man Alex previously fought with). Aided by information from Samantha and her physical therapy patient who are out taking a walk, Alex realizes that the aliens have lost their communication. They plan to use the satellite that sent the original signal to call home. Everyone realizes that when the aliens call home, a full scale invasion is sure to follow. Alex finally steps it up and turns a museum into a working ship and utilizes a crew of retired sailors to save the day.
Battleship is well directed by Peter Berg, who has a brief cameo in the film. Based on the big explosions and gunfire, this reminds me of a Michael Bay film. As I said, in my initial viewing I picked out a lot of issues. My main issue with the plot is that the clearly superior weaponry of the aliens should have taken out the navy in under 5 minutes. While there was much destruction and plenty of deaths, I don’t think there would have been any survivors. The second issue is the idea that the younger Hopper brother would have made it out of boot camp. With his issues with authority and conformity, he didn’t stand a chance not to mention that he must have developed an extensive rap sheet that surely would have barred him from entering the Navy in the first place. No matter how successful his brother had been, I can’t imagine that the Navy would have put up with Alex’s crap for more than five minutes. Overall, the plot is very contrived and you can often pinpoint details that are clear set ups for dramatic points that will come later in the film.
I saw Battleship in the movie theater and spent a lot of time thinking about those plot issues. After watching the movie on Blu-ray the second, third, fourth…and eventually seventh time, I was able to put those complaints aside. It’s a big budget loud, explosive film and I enjoyed it for what it was. What I still didn’t like was the way the alien ships hopped through the water. It was weird, and they could have been much more menacing while gliding through the water. I guess the hopping and skipping makes it easier to play real life Battleship. I was very happy to see that the film included a type of game board – but no one exclaimed “you sunk my battleship.” I still am not a fan of Rihanna, who has a small but visual role, an even she bothered me less with each viewing. For me, Battleship is a cross between Independence Day and Transformers whose plots needed a lot more development, but were nonetheless enjoyable like this one.
Universal presents a practically flawless picture. Battleship’s 1080p AVC encoded transfer is one of the best I’ve seen. The wide-screen 2.40:1 ratio film has colors that are bright and bold when required and perfectly gritty and dirty at other times. You feel how wet the water is, how intense the explosions are and everything about the visual presentation helps draw you in to the film. The detail is excellent (for both the live action and the CGI elements and the black levels are solid and suitably dark. Flesh tones are natural looking and consistent throughout the film. This is an amazing transfer!
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation equals and compliments the video in every way. The explosions will rock your living room and the dialogue is clear, intelligible and consistent throughout the film. The sounds of ocean can easily transport the listener to the middle of the ocean and the gunfire is intense and penetrating. Fans of the movie will be very happy with this explosive mix!
The Battleship Blu-ray contains the perfect amount of special features, that don’t appear as insignificant afterthoughts. Director Peter Berg is the main focus for all of these extras which are all very good.
The Blu-ray contains the following exclusives:
- Alternate Ending Pre-visualization – Peter Berg introduces an alternate ending that is mostly computer animated and reminds me of a video game. While an impressive ending, I prefer the one used in the film.
- The Visual Effects of Battleship – A look at the incredible visual effects created by Industrial Light & Magic. Includes various drawings and designs that lead to the finished effects seen in the film.
- All Access with Director Peter Berg – Peter Berg shows up on screen during the film to give the viewer a behind the scenes look at making the film, and to add selected commentary.
- USS Mississippi VIP Tour – Peter Berg takes you on a tour of the epic real life ship featured in the film. The Tour features Interviews with soldiers who served on the USS Missouri and provides enormous detail.
- Commander Pete – Director Peter Berg works with the crew and gives the actors a unique film-making experience. For such a serious film it appears to be a very playful set.
- Second Screen – There is also the option to view the movie with SECOND SCREEN by downloading the Pocket Blu App.
In addition, the following bonus features are included on both the Blu-ray and DVD:
- Preparing for Battle – Peter Berg talks about playing the Battleship board game and his first experience cheating. Cast and producers talk about incorporating the elements of the game into the movie and selecting the director and sets.
- All Hands on Deck: The Cast – A look at the cast of Battleship and the directing style of Peter Berg.
- Engage in Battle – Two featurettes titled Shooting at Sea and All Aboard the Fleet provide additional behind the scenes information.
Battleship is a big budget movie that’s utterly enjoyable to watch when you don’t question its reality. Let’s face it, when speaking about an alien invasion film; you probably shouldn’t be looking for realism. What is clear and impressive is the attention to detail with the naval aspects. The crew was well trained in the ways of the Navy and it shows. The sound and video quality is also impressive on Blu-ray and this is one of those movies you put in to test your system. This is the type of movie many will either love or hate. If you love it in your first or second viewing, it’s only going to get better. With all its unbelievability, after multiple viewings I raised my film rating from 3.5 to 4. When I stopped questioning it, I started enjoying it much more.
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