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Film: Battle Ship

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!"

The movie 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).
  • Action Girl: Raikes, all the way, and she's based on Jacqueline Carrizosa, who helped train Rihanna. Samantha is more of an Action Survivor girl.
  • 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.
  • Always Someone Better: Stone, to Alex.Until the end....
  • 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...
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The Missouri Lock and Load Montage to the tune of "Thunderstruck" by ACDC. Considering the relationship with the Trope Namer...
  • 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.
  • Badass: Many!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Earth sends out a signal in the hope of contacting other intelligent life in the galaxy. Well, that life comes here and promptly begins to kick butt.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Stone goes out of his way to take care of Alex and help him shape up his life, even letting the latter crash on his couch.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Commander Stone Hopper, Alex's older brother, who's been trying to rein him in his entire life, eventually dragging him into the Navy.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Gunship Rescue by the Australian F-18 Hornets.
    • The aliens pull off one of these when the humans manage to capture one of them.
    • The geeky and wimpy scientist coming in from out of nowhere with a briefcase-to-the-head for the alien about to kill the downed Mick.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The John Paul Jones captain is on the bridge when the aliens fire, killing him and 3 other crew members first.
  • Blinded by the Light: The aliens have really low light tolerance, which comes in very handy when unarmored humans have to fight them. Their helmets were shown to incorporate sunglasses.
  • Boom, Headshot: Raikes does this to an alien marine. With the 5-inch gun. At point blank range!
  • Bottomless Magazines: In the final battle, USS Missouri fires her 16" guns several times in the span of a few seconds, only stopping so Alex Hopper can shout "Reload!" The actual rate of fire for such guns is around two rounds per gun per minute.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: It is repeatedly stated that Alex has a lot of potential but doesn't use it.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Battleships have been out of military use for decades, so fulfilling the title in a modern times movie necessarily involved this.
  • Brick Joke: Alex and chicken burritos.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Winked at; the novelization opens with young Alex and Stone playing a grid based naval warfare game called "Broadsides".
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: A nerdy scientist decides he wants nothing to do with the fight, but then saves Mick out of nowhere by smashing an alien in the face with a metal suitcase.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The laptop, and USS Missouri. (Indeed, Chekhov's battleship)
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The retired veteran crewmen of the Missouri.
  • 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.
  • Curse Cut Short: A few times, usually with a naval gun firing.
  • 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.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Alex delivering the burrito to Samantha, both establishing that he's a drunken idiot, and that he's a Determinator and Indy Ploy artist par excellence.
  • Everything Sensor: Standard issue for the aliens. They can detect cars, aircraft, beating hearts, highway supports...
  • Excuse Plot: The first half hour of the movie mainly comprises of a fine example for this trope.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By the end of the movie, Alex and Nagata have set aside their differences.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Alex (Foolish) and Stone (Responsible).
  • Foreign Cuss Word: "Kuso!"
  • 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.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Whether this trope is present or not depends entirely on how you view the aliens. See Alternate Character Interpretation for more info.
  • 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 cool break from acceptable physicsnote 
  • "How Many?" "All Of Them": A variation in the trailer
  • Humanoid Aliens: the invaders are basically large, pale humans with gecko-like eyes, goatees made of something resembling porcupine quills, and claw-like four-fingered hands.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Especially the old ones!
  • 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.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Nagata's exasperation at Alex's assumption that The Art of War (a Chinese text) is a pan-Asian text.
  • It Can Think:
  • It Has Been an Honor: Alex and Nagata, staring at the alien mothership, and choosing to stop the alien transmission at the cost of their own lives.
  • It's Raining Men: The aliens have one man pods that they launch into a Hawaiian forest in the trailer.
  • Kaiju Defense Force: The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force sends a number of missile destroyers to the RIMPAC 2012 exercises, among them Myoko.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: "What kinda chuck wagon—"
  • Killer Yo Yo: The "Rondos", spinning bladed wheels that can steer, stop and target specific things, with a bladed prehensile "string" for added kick.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Mercilessly in the novelization.
  • 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.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Often despite having an entire destroyer crew plus whatever sailors they pulled out of the ocean from the other ships.
  • 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Samantha.
  • Mythology Gag: The alien bombs sink into the ships like giant pins. Also the alpha-numeric grid Battleship grid.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The aliens' HUD's show non-combatants in green.
  • 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).
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Although Rihanna's involvement is very much downplayed.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: The aliens rescue one of the their own which was captured by characters.
  • 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.
  • Overprotective Dad: The Admiral is implied to be this.
  • 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.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Cora gets one in as an alien footsoldier standing on the deck of a ship finds himself standing directly in the line of fire of one of the turreted guns.
    Mahalo, mother-*BOOM*
    • A veteran manages to one-up her later.
  • Product Placement:
    • Hello Coca-Cola Zero. Alex drinks it at the beginning of the movie and is later seen on a mega-screen.
    • When Hopper and his girlfriend are late and trying to find their way onto the battleship it's just a flimsy excuse to linger overlong on his Ford pickup.
    • The Little League ballpark was plastered with Subway. We even get a close up of a little girl drinking out of a Subway cup. In Canada, however, rival chain Mr. Sub did a tie-in for the movie.
    • Surprisingly averted with the Milton Bradley board game itself, which appears nowhere in the movie. The novelization has some characters playing the bland-name equivalent, "Broadsides".
  • 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.
  • Rank Up: The first time we see Alex, he's an unemployed and drunk, and burgles a convenience store for a chicken burrito to impress a girl. Five years later, he's a Lieutenant and Tactical Action Officer in command of the Combat Information Center, before landing in the Captain's chair. At the end of the movie, he's promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
  • "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.
  • Recycled In Space: Battle: Los Angeles/ Transformers in the ocean!
  • The Rival: Nagata
  • Rolling Attack: The aliens' "wheels" which can chew through warships.
  • Rule of Cool: Turning a 45,000 ton battleship with a anchor in a club-hauling maneuver? Not realistic, but definitely cool. Similarly with Alex, Lynch, Nagata, 2 old veterans and a small Japanese officer carrying a 1,900 lb HC shell.
  • 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.
  • Scary Black Man: Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales despite being a Handicapped Badass is able to take out an alien in unarmed combat.
  • Sequel Hook: A lingering shot on another officer's badge hints that Alex might join the Navy SEALs and at least one alien is still alive in the Scotland UK.
  • Serkis Folk: The aliens
  • Shout-Out: Frequently, often by the characters.
    • 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.
    • "Fire everything!"
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The movie's very patriotic, and pro-military. The song chosen for the credits? Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a notable war protest song.
  • Starring Special Effects
  • Stealth Parody: Maybe. Was this an actual invasion, or a First Contact botched by human belligerence? The novelization says it was an actual invasion, but the film is a bit ambiguous.
  • 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).
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Yes. Very much so.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Alex and Nagata dislike each other immensely, and Nagata blames him for the loss of his ship and his men. Their cooperation is quite reluctant, but they both get better.
  • Telepathy: The touch of an alien's hand causes a vision of what's on its mind.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Artillery cannon. Headshot.
  • The War Room: The Combat Information Center on John Paul Jones, where much of the fighting and planning takes place from.
  • Title Drop: Though the word "battleship" is spoken a few times in the film, the one that most counts as a Title Drop is when determinator Hopper says, "We've got a Battleship."
  • Twenty Minutes with Jerks: Emphasis on 'jerks'. It's over 20 minutes until things start happening.
  • 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.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Averted by Cora Raikes despite being both the tough gunner girl and black
  • 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.)

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