Battleship is a sci-fi action film released in the summer of 2012, directed by Peter Berg and starring Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, and Rihanna, very loosely based on the board game Battleship. Yes, the one with red and white pegs and a grid and "you sunk my battleship!"Battleship opens with Alex Hopper (Kitsch), a drunk, unemployed loser. He's dragged into the navy by his straightlaced brother, Stone (Skarsgård) in the hopes that it will give him some direction in life. Five years later, Alex is a junior officer, with plans to ask the Admiral for his daughter's hand. Unfortunately, the Admiral (Neeson) dislikes Alex both as an officer and a gentleman, and he intends to have Alex discharged by the end of the next voyage.Said voyage is a huge, multi-national war game, off of the coast of Hawaii. Before the exercises have a chance to get underway, the fleet is interrupted by a bunch of alien objects crashing into the ocean. The objects reveal themselves to be a squadron of alien war machines. Their intentions aren't clear, but whatever they're planning, the aliens aren't here to play games.
The Ace: Stone Hopper, when compared to Alex; not only does he have his shit squared away, his destroyer has won the Battle E numerous times.
Alex Hopper made himself a CIC Officer in five years, and improbably brilliant (and lucky) tactical officer in general. However, he is a pure distilled jackass until hammered multiple times with failures (including one that almost cost his entire career, and another that cost many Japanese sailors their lives).
Adaptation Expansion: of Battleship, as noted. There is a preexisting spinoff game about an alien invasion, but those aliens are completely different.
All There in the Manual: The novelization clears up a lot about the aliens. For example, they're called the "Regents", and the reason they don't just smash the humans outright is that they're testing them.
Apathetic Citizens: There's a strange and quite visible force field over Hawaii, and all contact with the outside world is down, but when the aliens hit infrastructure and military bases, the traffic appears to be ordinary rush hour clutter, not panicked attempted evacuation, there's a little league baseball game going on, and the military base seems to be in routine operation, not any kind of alert.
Armor Is Useless: Averted. The armor of one of the aliens does a very good job of soaking up assault rifle and pistol bullets with no sign of damage to him.
Artistic License Basic Training: Likely for the sake of landlubbers watching, the characters avoid nearly all nautical terms which would be second-nature to any sailor.
It's rather odd how often the new commanding officer of the destroyer finds himself all alone with no subordinates or only Raikes supporting him.
Ascended Meme: A variation of the classic line is uttered towards the end of the film.
Veteran: "They ain't gonna sink this battleship, no way."
In the novel Alex almost gets it out after losing the John Paul Jones, but is cut off at the last word. Of course, he was in fact talking about a destroyer at the time...
Awesome, but Impractical: The battleship Missouri in a modern navy. As Alex explains to a little boy taking a tour, the battleship is essentially a dinosaur fossil even compared to ships like his much smaller destroyer. Battleships were made obsolete by aircraft, missiles and advanced targeting systems - three things that had been nullified by the aliens making it more effective for direct combat than the destroyers. In fact, the buoy targeting method is a more advanced version of how battleship targeting was traditionally performed.
Chekhov's Skill: Mick's boxing career. Also, Alex's surprising memory for literary quotes (and utter failure to understand the Art Of War).
Cool Ship: A lot. There's the Arleigh-Burke-class missile destroyers, their Japanese copy counterparts, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan... but the coolest of them all is the USS Missouri. And those are just the human ships.
The Combat Pragmatist: This seems to be humanity's big advantage in the film, up to and including using a 5-inch cannon in a melee.
Crippling Overspecialization: The destroyers, which could level a mountain by themselves if they wish, but due to their electronic and radar dependence, most of their weapon are rendered useless.
Less a case of that (the destroyers are in fact a jack-of-all-trades and quite good at it), but more of a Science Marches On in the case of the aliens, who simply have better tech.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The first battle with the aliens. Due to the shield jamming their missile guidance systems they're forced to engage the alien ships with only their five-inch guns, which are piddly next to what the aliens can dish out. Both the Sampson and Myoko are destroyed very quickly one after the other, the former with all hands.
Determinator: Alex, delivering the burrito. (Also against the aliens. The crew of the John Paul Jones follow suit.)
And then we have the Scottish farmer in The Stinger. "If Jimmy says he's gettin' in, he's gettin' in!"
Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Alex Hopper is sent with two others on a zodiac to get a closer look at the alien structure when the fleet spots it, and one of his companions cautions him against getting closer when he finds a surface he can walk on. Naturally, he walks over and puts his hand on a wall, apparently initiating a reaction and launching him about 50 feet backwards.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: They're moving pretty quickly, but if you pause the film, you can see that the aliens' munitions are shaped exactly like the pegs in the board game.
Gatling Good: Raikes mans a Minigun on the rigid inflatable boat sent to investigate the alien craft.
The Phalanx CIWS turrets on the ships also provide Gatling action.
The General's Daughter: Well, admiral's daughter in this case. And she's caught the eye of Alex, a Lieutenant. Her father does not approve of him.
Genre Savvy: Cal knows right from the start that trying to contact alien life is going to end badly.
Glass Cannon: The Arleigh-Burke and Kongo-class guided missile destroyers pack a punch if they hit, but can't take a beating. Justified, in the fact that modern anti-ship weapons are so powerful that avoiding being hit (via speed or active defenses) is a far better strategy for surviving than heavy armor. The aliens just happen to be further enough up the Tech scale that they can defeat most of these defenses.
Girls with Guns: Raikes is hardly ever seen without one, and they range from a pistol to 16 inch naval artillery.
Gondor Calls for Aid: What the aliens are trying to do for most of the movie. After their Communications vessel is destroyed after colliding with a Satellite, their entire goal is to secure the Deep Space communications facility in Hawaii to send out a distress signal.
On the human side, the chief was pointing out that he has no clue how to get the Missouri back in working order, nor a crew to man her even if he did. Cue a bunch of old veterans who volunteer to be the crew of the Missouri once more.
Gunship Rescue: The Super Hornets that land the final blow on the alien mothership.
Hero Tracking Failure: Defied as shown by the alien targeting computer which properly anticipates USS Missouri's path, then inverted via anchor-dropping battleship drift as mentioned above in a really coolbreak from acceptable physicsnote It is possible for an even LARGER ship to pull this off, as shown here—just not by "dropping the anchor".
Idiot Hero: Alex begins the movie as this, but he gets better. McShane even points out that he's a smart kid who keeps doing really, really dumb things. Not that we ever see him doing anything smart...
Infant Immortality: The Wheel of Death examines, then turns away from a kid playing baseball.
In Name Only: The board game is petty spare on details so this is inevitable. It does have two nods to the source; the alien canister bombs that embed themselves into ship decks before exploding much like the pegs from the board game, and a night battle where combat from the human perspective is remarkably grid based.
Insufficiently Advanced Alien: The "marines" are only armed with a hand spike from what we see, and their ships and ground troops can be beaten by a 1940s warship and a retired ex-boxer Colonel Badass with artificial legs, respectively.
The alien ships also appear to lack guided weapons beyond those "wheels". They prefer to fight with ballistic explosive shells that spin, for some reason.
The Laws and Customs of War: The aliens follow them for the most part and sometimes go further, such as when they decline to destroy a previously hostile ship when it breaks contact, making them practically unique among alien invasion stories.
Lightning Bruiser: Missouri is only slightly slower than the Aegis missile destroyers, her 16-inch main guns fire shells weighing 2700 pounds, and she can take a beating that would kill a modern ship.
Macross Missile Massacre: The Aegis Combat System allows the missile destroyers to do this... except that the aliens are jamming their radar, and most of their missiles are anti-aircraft missiles. The aliens themselves enjoy using this method.
Meaningful Name: The John Paul Jones is named after one of the US Navy's determinator pioneers.
Misblamed: Comments on this movie often go on about how it's another stupid, mindless Michael Bay flick. It was directed and produced by Peter Berg.
Monumental Damage: An alien craft crash severs the top off the Bank of China building in Hong Kong.
More Dakka: Both sides of the conflict apply this tactic.
The Movie: Of the board game. Universal got the rights along with those to several other board games from Hasbro, then sat on them. Hasbro was starting to ask them to pay a penalty for doing nothing with the film rights when Peter Berg came along and offered to direct.
Noble Demon: One scene in which the aliens do allow the characters to rescue the survivors of the ships they sunk early in the film. They also avoid harming civilians several times. However, they destroy freeways with cars on them, surely causing civilian fatalities, and kill police officers and destroy a Marine base without warning or visible chance to surrender.
There's also the alien onboard the JPJ who gives Alex a vision of the Alien's plans (this may count since the alien seems desperate), as well as the alien who lets the scientist go (they may be the same alien).
Not of This Earth: Alien debris is composed of unknown elements (and Lawrencium); impressive, since our indications are that everything we haven't identified is extremely unstable. Lawrencium, number 103 on the periodic table, has a half life of 216 minutes at its most stable known isotope, and everything above it only gets shorter lived.
Novelization: A novelization of the film, written by Peter David, was released in April. It included passages from the aliens' view point and reveals their actual motives.
Officers Who Actually Do Something: Lt. Alex Hopper doesn't do delegating. Being a junior officer, he's sent to scout the alien spaceship; later, when the aliens board John Paul Jones, he's leading the team searching for them, even though he's by then the acting Captain. In the novelization, he even notes that he shouldn't be doing so.
Likewise, it is Captain Nagata who is required to "play Battleships", rather than one of his own weapons officers, though it's likely most of his CIC crew are dead, given the placement of the hit on Myoko.
The Oner: The destruction of the John Paul Jones from about the point Raikes hits the water to when Stone and Nagata jump off the ship.
Oh Crap: Right as soon as the Sampson was dotted with timed bombs on her entire body, before it blew up in a huge fireball explosion.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Skarsgård has a few moments like this, particularly in the opening scene. Also Raikies especial when she explains her fathers view on aliens.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Navies of several nations evidently spend an entire night just sitting there staring at the force field. The team in Washington and the mainland doesn't seem to be up to much, either - they're pretty much dropped out of the plot halfway through.
Point Defenseless: The CIWS mounts on Sampson, Myoko and John Paul Jones do their best, but in the end there's too much incoming fire to intercept.
Powder Keg Crowd: The world, once they find out about the aliens, begins rioting. This has absolutely no bearing on the main plot nor story, and is never resolved.
Power Armor: Standard-issue for the aliens, apparently coming in light and heavy varieties.
Power Walk: Performed by the US Navy veterans when they come to the aid of the JPJ's survivors in getting the Missouri back into fighting shape.
Promotionto Parent: Though not stated outright, it's implied with the way Stone lectures and shouts at Alex in a way that's more paternal than fraternal, even scolding him about wasting his birthday wish on a girl.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Alex gets arrested and tased in the opening scene, Stone comes in and starts yelling about how he was screwing around with his commander's daughter, which therefore messes with his job, and his life, and he's through with just letting Alex repeatedly go through with stupid stuff.
Rule of Cool: Turning a 45000 ton battleship with a anchor? Not realistic, but definitely cool.
Sacrificial Lion: Stone. The more responsible brother who gets Alex to start shaping up, only to die in the first few minutes of the first battle with the aliens when the Sampson is lost with all hands after previously beginning to take on water.
For example, Alex's attempt to get a chicken burrito from a closed store to impress Sam is a beat-for-beat reference to this memetic idiot. Except Alex can just use the emergency exit, he eventually realizes.
Petty Officer Lynch is referred to as "Beast" throughout.
The Stinger: Post-credits is a scene in what looks like Scotland of a group of people trying to open a pod which fell from the sky, only to pull back when an alien hand from the inside starts to pull it open.
Stock Sound Effects: In a way — many of the sound effects from Transformers can be heard in this movie (not surprising, what with Hasbro owning both properties).
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The aliens avoid killing anyone who isn't a threat even if they were hostile just a moment ago. Their plan would have succeeded if they bothered to destroy the John Paul Jones during the initial engagement. A similar event occurs when the scientist is confronted by an alien scientist inside his base but is let go without harm.
Villainous Valor: The aliens definitely have several examples of this. Despite their advanced technology, they are obviously Out-manned and Out-gunned by the rest of humanity (the Barrier they put up is for their own protection rather then to keep the heroes isolated) and they spend most of the movie trying to send out a distress signal. Then there's the Rescue mission they pull when the humans capture one of them and it's not difficult to see the desperation in the crew of the Main Gunship trying to take out the Missouri when the latter has a gun aimed at their ground team.
You Are in Command Now: Alex finds himself in command of the USS John Paul Jones after The Captain and the Executive Officer are killed; as Tactical Action Officer, he's next in the chain of command. (It was implied that all the other officers were killed in the attack. This is why the Master Chief is advising the Lieutenant about abandoning his need for revenge and picking up survivors. It is this turning away from the conflict that kept the Jones from remaining a target of the aliens.)