Here at Wonder-Con 2011, Universal Pictures was kind enough to stop by with some new footage from their upcoming action film, Battleship. The recently released new trailer was just the tip of the iceberg as director Peter Berg came loaded with two new clips highlighting drastically different tones of the film. We got to see another side of Taylor Kitsch’s character as well as a good look at the alien menace in Battleship known as the Regents. We also got a very fine look at Brooklyn Decker and man how I’ve been waiting for that (she’s a supermodel, for God’s sake. Use her in your marketing!) Alexander Skarsgard also told a funny story about being shot in the face with a 25-foot-long air cannon. Just another day at WonderCon.
Director Peter Berg’s Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna opens May 18th. Hit the jump for more.
Let’s start off with the clips as they gave a pretty good indication of the level of action and humor we can except to see in this summer’s Battleship. The first one, surprisingly, highlighted the relationship between the Hopper brothers, Alex (Kitsch) and Stone (Skarsgard). They’re out at a local bar for Alex’s birthday with big brother Stone buying drinks and doling out unwanted life advice. Alex is apparently on hard times and is unemployed, while Stone is in the Navy, following in their late father’s footsteps (which is why Stone feels the need to look out for Alex).
The chemistry is pretty good here and you can tell a portion of it is improvised (Berg commented on actors’ performances on Friday Night Lights being half improvisation.) Then we get the glory shot of Samantha (Decker) walking into the bar, at which point Alex does his best to impress her. Without ruining a pretty funny scene (it resembled an outtake from The Hangover), let’s just say that Alex goes to great lengths to get the lady a microwaveable chicken burrito.
Cut to five years later: Stone is high-up in the Naval command, Alex is a trouble-maker in the Navy and is preparing to propose to Samantha, who just so happens to be the Admiral’s (Neeson) daughter. Putting the kibosh on his marriage plan is an alien race, who have dispatched five ships that were sent to Earth to answer our interstellar radio signal. The scene opens with one of the aliens laid out in the hold of the ship with the crew standing around it. Alex, now a Captain, removes the helmet from the alien, revealing a humanoid creature with sharp, bristly hairs on his chin. Then, in a scene reminiscent of the Area 51 autopsy from Independence Day, the alien springs to life. A mind-meld of sorts occurs between Alex and the alien with images of extraterrestrial warfare, just before the alien is rescued by his cohorts. Chaos ensues, as is usually the case, and Alex and the other officers scour the ship in search of an alien that remains on board.
There are some cool highlights to the alien here, which Berg calls “Thug.” They seem to have a Swiss Army knife-like appendage on their suits that can flip and rotate into a variety of tools including guns, knives and a weird scanner-type apparatus (from the footage, it looked like “Thug” was scanning one of the ship’s engines or weapons; it was difficult to tell out of context). More fighting breaks out with the alien clearly winning the upper-hand until…[SPOILER] Alex leads him up onto the deck where Raikes (Rihanna) shoots the thing point blank with a 5-inch deck gun. The build-up to that money-shot was well worth the execution. What was disappointing was Kitsch’s terrible one-liners (he actually said, “I have a bad feeling about this.”)
In between the clips, Berg, Skarsgard and Decker participated in a panel discussion. I’ve outlined their responses below:
- Berg’s father was a Marine and a Naval war historian. He used to take Berg and his sister on tours of military bases were he would interrupt the tour guide and correct them on their historical inaccuracies.
- Originally, Berg wanted to make a movie about the Essex, a whaling ship that sank in 1820 and stranded its crew on an island; the crew resorted to cannibalism to survive. Berg quipped that “cannibalism was not popular with the studio.” (This was the same whaling ship that inspired Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”
- When asked, “Why Battleship?” Berg was candid with the fact that “it didn’t initially lend itself to the most logical interpretation to film,” but he found inspiration in the fact that once you’ve scored a hit in Battleship, you “try to kill your opponent as brutally as possible.”
- Berg commented that, although Battleship has an attractive cast, they’re “smart, complicated actors.” He especially raved about Decker and Rihanna.
- Skarsgard commented on the physicality required for the action scenes in the film. He told a story about a scene in which Berg wanted to film Skarsgard’s reaction to being hit by an incoming soundwave, which resulted in Skarsgard taking a blast to the face from a 25-foot-long air cannon.
- Decker also talked about her action scenes saying, “I got to shoot guns. I was a happy camper.” She said that Berg makes everything feel very real, mentioning a time when the director hid in a nearby bush with a machine-gun during a shot in which she stumbles onto a terrifying scene of carnage.
- The aliens, known as Regents, come from what is known as a Goldilocks planet (neither too hot, nor too cold and having similar conditions to Earth); they were designed by ILM.
- Berg says that Battleship may not be the biggest movie of the summer, but they have the biggest guns.
After viewing the footage, there looks to be a lot more humor and heart invested in the characters than I would have guessed at first blush. While the setup scene came off a bit goofy, it did round out the characters a bit more. Battleship still looks like, as Berg called it, “a fun, kick-ass, intense, emotional-at-times, summer popcorn madness” movie. With this summer being as over-loaded with action movies as it is, Battleship might end up sinking below the rest.
Here’s the synopsis for Battleship:
Peter Berg (Hancock) produces and directs Battleship, an epic-scaled action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force. Inspired by Hasbro’s classic naval combat game, Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch as Lt. Alex Hopper, a Naval officer assigned to the USS John Paul Jones; Brooklyn Decker as Sam Shane, a physical therapist and Hopper’s fiancée; Alexander Skarsgård as Hopper’s older brother, Stone, Commanding Officer of the USS Sampson; Rihanna as Petty Officer Raikes, Hopper’s crewmate and a weapons specialist on the USS John Paul Jones; and international superstar Liam Neeson as Hopper and Stone’s superior (and Sam’s father), Admiral Shane.
Berg directs this epic action-adventure also produced by Scott Stuber (Couples Retreat), Sarah Aubrey (The Kingdom), Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir of Hasbro (the Transformers franchise), along with Duncan Henderson (Master and Commander) and Jeffrey Silver (300). The film is written by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber (Red).
The battle for Earth begins at sea.
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