Opening in theatres this Friday from director/producer Peter Berg, Universal Pictures, Film 44 and Hasbro comes the invasion with “Battleship”.
This film tells the story of Lt. Alex Hopper, a naval weapons officer assigned to the U.S.S. John Paul Jones. A rogue who is always in the middle of trouble brother Commander Stone Hopper tries to keep him in check.
Another person who accepts Hopper is his love Sam, which would be fantastic if her father wasn’t Admiral Shane. Heading out for RIMPAC off the coast of Hawaii for naval games the unthinkable happens.
After sending a signal to a planet discovered by skywatchers, what comes back in reply is an unexpected invasion. Surrounded by a force field the only way they can fight is come together with commanded Lt. Hopper. Joining the new captain is Petty Officer Raikes, Boatswain Mate Ord, Chief Engineer Hiroki, Chief Petty Officer Lynch and from the Japanese fleet Captain Yugi Nagata.
It takes guts, determination and the belief that nothing takes our planet
Director Peter Berg has always had a passion and took time to research the U.S. Navy for this script. He says, “BATTLESHIP is a passion of mind because, as a kid, I spent so much time on ships, absorbing detailed histories about the great battles of World War II from my father. When this fell into my lap, it didn’t take me long to find a take for the film – a contemporary story of an international fleet engaged in a very dynamic, violent and intense fight that’s chock-full of action-packed sea battles with big hardware and conflict. You can go anywhere in the world and say “Battleship”, and people know it. In today’s market, that’s a big plus for turning a brand into a film”.
The brand he speaks of is HASBRO, one of the world’s premier toy manufacturers. The company is focusing on “Battleship” as its first game to screen film. CEO Goldner says, “BATTLESHIP is a global brand that has enjoyed nearly 40 years of success in 30 countries. People know how to play the game and understand its face-off nature. We knew we could take its compelling elements and play them out in a reimagined manner.”
Being part of the culture the strategy is learn where your enemy has put his ships so the opponent knows where to strike next leading to a victory. The modern counterpart of the battleship is the destroyer and it was prominent in World War II and was in use until the first Iraq War in 1991.
“Battleships were defined by their power and muscle and built to take on shrapnel. They were giant ships with giant guns and thick hulls that had extraordinary power. They are the protectors of the fleet. They are like Secret Service agents. If an enemy fires, they step in front of the carrier and take the shell. There is something extraordinarily heroic about being the first dog in the fight,” says Sarah Aubrey, production partner in Film 44.
“Destroyers are magnificent pieces of machinery, run by incredibly smart and brave people. We thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase them within the context of this game that people have such an affinity for. We take you inside of these massive oceangoing beasts. You will see their weapons, missiles, all of their power. In our story, they’re the underdog. So we introduce this mighty Navy fleet steaming out to sea, unlike anything we’ve experienced before”.
Getting the cast in shape to take on their military roles, Berg worked with multiple consultants to help get the m in shape. Gunner’s Mate Jacqueline Carrizosa trained star Rihanna for her role. “A lot of the training on set had to do with how to hold the weapon the correct way”, Rihanna says, “I had to learn about these weapons and I enjoyed that because I didn’t want to look like an actor with a gun just shooting off into no where!” During production, Carrizo, a rank of E-5, which is petty officer second class, says, “I deal with everything from basic 9mm handguns and .50 cal weapons to torpedoes, magazine sprinkler systems, missiles, VLS [vertical launching systems] and such.”
Berg was careful to make sure every aspect of the U.S. Navy was portrayed as accurately as possible; Capt. Rick Hoffman was brought on as a technical advisor. Every detail was taken into account from the dialogue, uniforms, and haircuts. Capt. Hoffman commanded two warships in his 28-year career so his information was invaluable. “When I was first interviews for this position, Peter Berg told me that in a movie this fantastic, the real part has to be very real. He wanted to use active-duty sailors, preferably serving aboard ships now, in as many scenes as possible. We wanted to make sure the actors came across in a compelling and convincing manner”.
Filming in Hawaii was crucial in the project. There was also another reason for choosing that historical site. “We set our story at Pearl Harbor so we could honor these historical references. We also cast actual World War II Navy veterans, and we brought back the iconic World War II battleship MISSOURI and gave it a key role.” The difference this time is that the American and Japanese sailors come together to fight an enemy and it becomes a powerful visual in the production.
Also called the “Mighty Mo”, the MISSOURI is an Iowa-class battleship and the last vessel ever built by the U.S. Navy named for the home state of President Harry S. Truman. Decommissioned in 1992, the MISSOURI has been donated to the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association in Honolulu where she sits today as a museum. Her presence in Pearl Harbor is considered a fitting place for the Mighty Mo.
The alien enemy has brought their own big guns as well as Industrial Light & Magic supervisor Grady Cofer and Pablo Helman needed to make that happen. “We took great pains to construct the aliens so that they were similar to us,” Aubrey says, “Certainly they’re going to look very different, but the idea was that we live in parallel worlds, something astronomers call a ‘Goldilocks planet’. The creators wanted to make sure the aliens had distinctive personalities so they audience could tell them apart.
“We also created some cool weaponry that the aliens use. One is called a shredder, which has an intelligence system and is programmed to destroy whatever is in its path.” Describing it as about nine feet long it is a sphere that shreds. It’s huge and has all kinds of gears and thing that cut through metal and cement”.
That being said the audience responded with extreme applause any time the military was called into play. There is something about watching our military take on even alien bad guys that gets a crowd to its feel applauding. Also, the veterans of the U.S.S. Missouri really touched many in the audience as well as the salute to the U.S. Army.
In the end – the battle for earth begins at sea!