Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Movie Review - BATTLESHIP: 10 reasons why you should see it on Memorial Day Weekend

Let's get to the disclaimers:

1.  I moved to Hawaii in September 2009.   In fact, I live on Hickam Air Force Base, adjacent to Pearl Harbor.  One can't help but get caught up in the WWII nostalgia, including the Mighty Mo.

Shortly thereafter, there was some mention in the media about a new "sci fi" film being shot in Hawaii.  It was based on the Hasbro game BATTLESHIP.  

2.  In January 2010, the USS Missouri, a floating memorial, was moved into dry dock.   The director of BATTLESHIP, Peter Berg, shot several scenes while the ship was in dry dock.   When it came out of dry dock, Berg asked the Missouri's foundation to tow it off Oahu to film water scenes.

Before .... 

... after.

3.  In July 2010, the US Navy's Pacific Fleet hosted RimPac - a sea exercise with Naval Forces from the Pacific Rim.   Berg shot film during RimPac.  It is a biannual event - so RimPac is back in 2012.

4.  Two years later, my friends Nadja and Renee attended a special advance screening of BATTLESHIP on Pearl Harbor.   They loved it and mentioned that the film featured a double amputee.  I immediately realized the amputee was Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson, commander of the Wounded Warrior Unit at Walter Reed Army Hospital.   My children have met Colonel Gadson through mutual friends.   

Saturday, May 19, was Armed Services Appreciation Day.    It seemed appropriate to see this movie.  The film opens in 2006.  Scientists have discovered another planet similar to Earth.  They send a message via satellite from Oahu.   Elsewhere on Oahu, drifter Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) celebrates his birthday with older brother, Stone  (Alexander Skarsgard), who is a Naval officer.   Stone suggests Alex join the Navy.  Instead, Alex spots a pretty girl, Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), and engages in a stupid stunt to impress her.   The stunt lands him in jail but the girl never forgot.

Six years later, Stone is the commander of the USS Samson.   Alex is a weapons officer aboard the USS John Paul Jones.  He wants to marry Sam.   Sam is a physical therapist for Mick Canales (Greg Gadson).  Sam's father, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson), is about to kickoff the RimPac.   Alex and Sam are late for the ceremony on board the USS Missouri - a floating memorial.   As they run to the gangway, Alex overhears a child asking what is the difference between a battleship and destroyer.   Alex stops to say that the battleship is obsolete and the destroyer is superior.   After the ceremony, Alex gets into scuffle with Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), a Japanese commander who ignites Alex's temper.   Both are called before Admiral Shane, who admonishes Alex for his waste of talent.   RimPac begins.

Meanwhile, five aliens ships are flying towards Earth.  NASA alerts the Pentagon.  The Pentagon queries other nations.   But the ships are flying too fast to respond.  One ship crashes into a satellite, sending broken parts to Hong Kong, Germany, France, Scotland, and Iowa (someone in the film production must be from Iowa!)   The Chinese report the damaged parts in Hong Kong are made of unknown materials except for one element that is used for communications equipment.    The other four ships land in the Pacific Ocean near Oahu where the original message was sent.   Admiral Shane sends three destroyers to investigate the odd blips on the radar screen  - Alex on board the USS John Paul Jones, Stone on board the USS Samson, and Captain Nagata on the JDS Myoko.   As the destroyers approach the unknown "thing" in the water, they trip off the "protective dome" that encapsulates the alien ships, the three destroyers, and the Hawaiian islands.   The rest of the Pacific Fleet is outside the dome and cannot communicate with those trapped inside.  

The aliens set out to destroy any inanimate parts that can be used as weapons, including the three destroyers, Marine helicopters in Kaneohe Bay, even the H1 Freeway (the main artery through Honolulu).   The aliens then focus their efforts on setting up their communications equipment atop Oahu's mountains to send their own message back to the mother planet (probably, "Send more ships.")

Sounds complicated?  It's not as the action is quick.   When all three destroyers are lost, the remaining crew members realize only one ship remains - the Mighty Mo.  And here's where the real fun begins!   Can the ragtag crew, including antagonists Alex and Nagata, bring a 70 year old ship to life before the aliens can successful transmit a message?    

Naval veterans from BATTLESHIP

I offer you 10 reasons why you should see this movie, especially during Memorial Day Weekend:

10.  My friends told me to watch for a "possible preview of a sequel" after the credits.  We waited ... and were rewarded with a funny scene where school children find the "broken" ship that landed in Scotland.

Sigh.  Scotland.   

Wouldn't you like to see Highland warriors fight aliens in the next movie?

The Royal Navy in Scotland

9.  BATTLESHIP is flat out fluff entertainment.  It has plot holes, implausible scenes, and sappy dialogue.  Who cares?   Just enjoy the eye candy - breathtaking views around Oahu.  Sailors standing to attention in their whites.   Ships in maneuvers around the Pacific Ocean. 

8.  BATTLESHIP draws you into that "can do" spirit that pulled us through WWII.   Plus the audience is reintroduced to Naval history without knowing it.

7.  BATTLESHIP reminds us that peace is possible between enemies.  Large scale - RimPac includes a WWII enemy but current ally, Japan.   Small scale - Alex and Nagata find common ground (and respect) to combat the aliens.

6.  BATTLESHIP delivers comedic relief throughout the action scenes.   My favorite is spoken by an old salt aboard the Mighty Mo, "Somebody's gonna kiss the donkey."   Aptly said in Pidgin - Hawaii's slang.

5.  BATTLESHIP pays homage to the Hasbro game in a creative way (hint:  Kai e'e episode from Hawaii Five O).  Just enough time is spent on this "strategy" session without burdening the story with a vintage game.  At the very least, the audience might learn something about science!

4.  BATTLESHIP gives us characters to love - Alex the drifter who finds his niche.   Orky the unsure sailor who finds his confidence.   The geeky scientist who finds his courage.   Mick the double amputee who finds life again.

3.  Greg Gadson rocks!  Sam first meets his character, Mick, in the therapy room with other amputees.  Mick feels his life is over without his legs.   I believe real life wounded warriors feel the same about their injuries.   Sam takes him hiking with his new legs when they discover the aliens are setting up shop on their mountain.  Mick's "warrior instinct" kicks in ... and he uses his steel legs to combat the aliens.  They are titanium after all.

"Mick" wears a subdued NY Giants ball cap, giving a nod to his team.   Greg serves as their honorary coach, inspiring them to win the Superbowl in 2008.  If you don't know the story, read this link.

2.  The Mighty Mo.  Remember that Alex told a child that the battleship is obsolete in comparison to the destroyer?  It may be true in the modern Navy, but the Mighty Mo saves the day in this film.   Just when the sailors thought all was lost, the Old Salts show up in their vintage uniforms to get the Mighty Mo sailing.   AC/DC's THUNDERSTRUCK is pumping as the Old Salts teach the young sailors how to do it .... the old way.  

So I ask the question - was the movie named for the strategy game or a historic ship?  

Battleship cast in front of the Mighty Mo

1.  This film is a loving tribute to the military personnel and their families.  Go see it.  Cheer.  And feel good again about humanity.


Kim in Hawaii

I posted pictures from the Mighty Mo when it hosted a special event to celebrate BATTLESHIP at this link.

Plus pictures of the Scouts' overnight encampment at this link.

Plus the "real" satellite station overlooking Ka'ena Point at this link.


  1. Kim you do so much to share the excitement and pleasure of living in the islands. I hope the movie sticks around theaters long enough I can go see it. Would it be something a 10 year old girl would enjoy? If it is I might take my great niece. Not sure about the 8 year old if she would sit through it or not. Thanks for giving us all the low down on the movie.

  2. Kim, based upon your enthusiasm, we will go see BATTLESHIP. I know as ex-Navy, I'll enjoy it. My ex-Marine Corps husband probably won't, haha. Warmly, Lindsay McKenna

  3. Well I am going to see it.... Next to my Scottish warriors Navy warriors come real close 2nd.
    Thank Kim .
    Have a good one Ann

  4. We saw this movie last week and it was pure entertainment. Clare and I both thought it was much better than expected. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

  5. I know that with you this excited about something it has to be good. Once you reassured me it was not a Transformers rip off I knew it was great. This weekend it is on my to do list and I hope to get it to done!

  6. wow i never thought a movie could sound this good from a description but great job Kim. I so wish I could have been in Hawaii to see them film this though it sounded exciting. I don't live in Missouri anymore but still take pride in the USS missouri and its great history.

    DJ in Denver

  7. Adrienne here...and you in Hawaii does not seem fair. I saw this movie with my boyfriend and did not expect to like it but it is great. I don't much like all the alien crap but it is less of the plot line and more about fighting back.

  8. Nice post. This sounds like an interesting movie.

  9. I remember playing Battleship and I'm sure the action in the movie is great.

  10. Wow, lots of great info in this post. I use to play the game but a homemade version - you just use grid paper which meant you could play it anywhere or anytime and continue it as you wanted.

  11. This sounds like a really good movie!

    We played the game with our kids when they were young!

  12. I want to see it but my hubby does not

  13. My 17 year old son wants to see this with me (we're into sci fi and fantasy movies), but after reading this, I'm sure hubby will want to come as well. Thanks for the rundown and wonderful photos!

  14. I can remember playing the game a lot when I was young. Fun memories! And yes, sometimes a good action movie with great views is right on spot for what I want to see....and add in a military tribute, it sounds good to me. Great post Kim, and as always, fun photos!

  15. This is such an awesome post! Definitely makes me want to see the movie even more :)

  16. First, I love the game Battleship. My family have played it for what seems like forever. And I'm definitely going to see the movie thanks to your review Kim. Thanks for the post. Happy Memorial Day.
    Carol L.
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com


  18. What does Kiss The Donkey mean? I think it mean somebody screwed up or is making an ass out of themselves

  19. It was just so confusing and weird that I couldn't be entertained.