Alright, so Universal Pictures, director Peter Berg, and writers Erich Hoeber & Jon Hoeber have turned this:

Note the women in the kitchen doing their patriotic duty.

into a $200 million movie that looks like this:

What the fuck was that?, you ask? Well, I don’t have that answer. Now, right off the bat, trying to turn a board game into a piece of narrative cinema is no small task. I’ll grant you that. And it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a film with some real badass naval combat, mostly since it also hasn’t happened in the real world in about 70 years. We’ve never seen naval combat between human battleships and alien battleships. So…there’s that! When this project was announced last year, I purposefully avoided pretty much every piece of news about it, because I wanted to wait for a trailer to find out just how in the world they would turn this board game into a movie. Until this trailer debuted, I had completely forgotten who was in the movie. I just knew it was directed by Peter Berg, who has some experience with big summer movies, having last directed Hancock.

Alright, so the plot they’ve come up with is “formerly promising Navy officer-turned-renegade earns back his respect and honor by fighting off an alien sea invasion, all the while trying to convince his commanding officer that he’s the right guy to marry his supermodel daughter.” Does that about sum it up? I can’t wait to see how they explain why these alien ships were just floating there dormant (immune to radar and sonar detection), and all it took to wake them up was a human touching it in just the right spot. Oooo! The magic touch causes one ship to wake up, it sends a signal into space that apparently encloses what looks like the Hawaiian islands in some kind of dome, and then several other ships emerge from the depths, slingshot out of the water into the air, then splash back INTO the water to confront a U.S. fleet. Huh? Oh, never mind. BATTLESHIP!

One of the things I’m most annoyed by here is that in the past year and a half or so, Hollywood has completely played out my favorite subgenre, the alien invasion, and this will be about the 48th movie or TV show recently to showcase attacking aliens. Enough already! Even I don’t want to see another alien invasion story for about a decade. In this case, I’m just wondering how the Navy is gonna keep these ships (which we’ve already seen can fly) seabound. Or is this an alien race that specializes in sea invasions? They’re gonna conquer the Pacific Ocean? Why would these guys stay in the water and fight the Navy instead of flying away and attacking where it matters? They have the technology to get to Earth, but apparently their GPS gets fucked up by salt water…or something. I’m actually excited to find out how they explain this logic gap to the audience. Does Admiral Liam Neeson use The Force to keep them the water?

So the plot is intriguing if for no other reason than its apparent stupidity. The lead is played by Taylor Kitsch, who came to fame through Berg’s TV version of Friday Night Lights (which I may or may not have praised a few times), in which he was fantastic as football hero/outlaw Tim Riggins. Now, he’s suddenly another “it guy” that Hollywood is trying to force movie stardom upon (a topic I’ve discussed ad nauseam). His first big movie role was playing fan favorite mutant Gambit in the utterly mediocre X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Needless to say, neither Kitsch nor the filmmakers did Gambit justice in that film. In 2012, Kitsch is the lead in two of the year’s biggest movies, Battleship and John Carter [TRAILER], which used to go by the much more appropriate title John Carter of Mars. Strangely enough, now Carter looks like a sequel to Cowboys & Aliens. One commenter on the trailer’s YouTube page called it Gladiator vs. Aliens.

I’m still not sure just how good an actor the kid is, but looking at Kitsch in this movie, I now understand why he kept that long hair all this time. With short hair, he looks like a young Billy Bob Thornton, which, shall we say, removes a lot his ‘hunkiness’. He just looks so…different. Anyway…

Tell me that’s not Young Billy Bob Thornton.

What a fascinating movie, for all the wrong reasons. The entire main cast is a strange brew. You’ve got yet another “Next It Guy”, you’ve got at least one legit actor in Liam Neeson, you’ve got that dude from True Blood (Alexander Skarsgard), you’ve got a major pop singer making her big screen debut (Rihanna), you’ve got a supermodel (Brooklyn Decker), and another of Berg’s FNL actors, Jesse Plemons (who played Landry on the show). An interesting lot to say the least, but I guess there’s no reason to expect much. It’s not like the film will require a whole lot of acting, anyway. This is the kind of movie younger actors do for publicity, and older actors do for money. Either way, there appears to be only one piece of direction this cast needed; put that “Holy shit!” look on your face again!

I’ll give it one thumbs up already; the movie doesn’t come out for 10 months and the effects (being created by ILM) already look amazing. At the very least it should have some very cool looking (and totally absurd) action. Point is, I don’t even care if this movie is awful. I can’t wait to see it because of how ridiculous it looks. Of course I’ll have a great time pointing out every reason why it doesn’t make any bloody sense, but I’m not expecting it to make any sense. It’s an alien invasion at sea, whatever the fuck that entails. Count me in, brah.

I probably wasn’t the first to come up with Sailors vs. Aliens,
but I did think of it independently, dammit. That counts!

Since I did grow up playing the Battleship board game, I do expect at least some form of homage to the game. I wanna hear someone look at a chart or map and say “They just hit us on grid D-7!”, and/or Liam Neeson screaming, “They sunk our battleship!” I don’t think this is too much to ask.

And don’t think for a second this is the only board game movie Hollywood has coming down the pipeline. No no, Hollywood doesn’t only try stupid things once. In the next few years, you’ll be seeing a Candyland movie (“We envision it as Lord of The Rings, but set in a world of candy.” [I didn’t make that up.]), as well as a Michael Bay-produced, McG-directed (there’s a combination for ya) “four-quadrant supernatural adventure centering around a family” [I didn’t make that up, either.] movie based on the Ouija board. I know, you can’t wait!

-Check out Daniel O’Brien‘s hilarious post, “Novelization of the trailer for the movie Battleship.” [CRACKED]

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