As if adapting a movie based on a board game isn’t difficult enough, Peter Berg’s adaptation of Battleship ran into serious rough waters* when it was revealed that the antagonist of the movie would be aliens. Aliens vs. Battleships. Wisely, Berg and Universal realized that the only way to combat such a negative reaction so far in advance of the film’s release was to open the floor to online journalists and withhold as little as possible. And after reading the coverage, especially from CHUD.com and Latino Review, Berg has washed away some serious doubts. He describes his plans for the aliens, how he plans to tell the story, the characters, as well as throwing in some bonus, non-Battleship-related news relating to Hancock 2 and a possible sequel to The Rundown. Hit the jump to become a believer in Battleship.
CHUD has a great rundown in bullet-point form of the film’s structure, the design and integration of the aliens, and how Berg wants to reference the game without making the film cheesy. The aliens are called “The Regents” and they’re going the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest route by having digital make-up although not to the extent of Davy Jones and his crew. But what’s really cool is that the aliens don’t have superior technology, the aliens aren’t here to take over the world or kills us all, and best of all, we’re going to see the battle from their side as well. Says Berg:
You’ll understand [the aliens]. ILM’s doing a terrific job of creating The Regents, the folks who inhabit these ships. Some of them are very scientific and very intelligent, not violent at all, and others are more violent. But they’re all concerned with the fact that they have a very real mechanical problem with one of their ships, and they’re trying to deal with that.
The other part I found really cool is that this isn’t a high-tech showdown. The alien ships are stuck here (one possibly damaged), the tiny fleet of ships providing the last line of defense do have some hit/miss technology which leads to some cool strategic warfare but they’re also cut off from the rest of the navy. But best of all, Berg is going multicultural since when aliens are coming down on the world it may be somewhat reasonable to presume that the whole world and not just the U.S. would be in the fight.
The idea of finding a credible context for that eluded me. The idea of a film where America goes to war against China, or a movie where America goes to war against England or Australia or Japan, one of the countries that has a credible navy, felt like it would borderline on some kind of jingoistic American military exercise I couldn’t get my head around. I like the idea of something bigger, larger than life and the challenge it presented.
And because a movie based on the Battleship board game where we fight aliens and see the film from their perspective and they’re not trying to kill us all isn’t surprising, here’s a quote from Latino Review’s full transcript concerning what Berg hopes audiences, especially those in the military, will be surprised to discover with this film:
I think that it’s going to feel really very real. I think the military is going to be surprised at how credible it feels, the idea that this threat could be a credible enemy that they could fight and that they could actually beat in a credible manner. I think if we do our job audiences are really going to buy into it. Our goal is to make this feel credible and not preposterous and not totally absurd. We want the audience, like with ‘District 9’, like in ‘War of the Worlds’, believe that this is for fucking real and this is going down. It makes perfect sense that there’s got to be something out there alive and there’s got to be a day that we have contact with it. These films if done with integrity are very effective.
I’ll take that to mean, “I’m not Michael Bay. I make good movies.” Which is true. While I’ve heard mixed responses to Hancock (I enjoy the film until it goes crazy in its third act), I’ll defend the hell out of The Kingdom and The Rundown. And as far as Hancock and The Rundown are concerned, Berg hasn’t forgotten about a future for either film.
Here’s what Berg had to say about where Hancock 2 is at:
It’s being written now and it’s an issue of everybody involved in ‘Hancock’. There are so many cooks in that particular kitchen that it’s so busy and Will [Smith] has kind of taken time off to be with his kids and his kids are now making all kinds of films. There are so many people involved in that, from Will to his partner James Lassiter to Akiva [Goldsman] to Michael Mann, myself and to get us all in the same room just like this where we can all talk and then agree on anything, you’ve never met a group of people that have a harder time agreeing on anything. It’s like the Israeli peace process times a thousand how tough it is to resolve. I think it’ll happen though. We just have to kind of get in the same room for some consistency.
But while that’s all well and good, I’m far more excited for the potential of a new Rundown movie.
Is there ever any hope to getting a sequel to ‘The Rundown’?
Berg: I hope so, man. I don’t know why there’s not. I think, yes. The answer is yes. I love ‘The Rundown’. I don’t know that the audience at the time was quite ready to accept Dwayne [Johnson]. We had a certain amount of resistance. They screwed around with our release date. The film still performed well.
Dwayne wants another one, doesn’t he? Have you talked to him about it?
Berg: I love it. We always joke about when we’re going to do it. Sometimes it’s just a question of timing and getting all the stars to line up but there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do it.
But neither film is what Berg has planned after Battleship. Instead, he’s sticking with the military and adapting the non-fiction book Lone Survivor, which, says Berg:
If you haven’t read that book it’s an incredible story and a really dynamic one, in the vein of like a ‘Black Hawk Down’. It’s a true story about seventeen SEALS that were killed in one gunfight in Afghanistan. It’s a great story. One survived.
Thanks, spoiler alert.
Click over to CHUD to read more details about the film, including his plans for a viral campaign responding to Stephen Colbert’s brilliant parody of the Battleship when the film was first announced. Latino Review has a full transcript of the interview with Berg and while it will take you a while to read, it’s definitely worth your time.
Battleship is currently slated to hit theaters on August 5, 2011.