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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Battleship
The aliens actually came in peace
Given the minimum development and focus on the aliens, it is possible the whole conflict was a gigantic misunderstanding. After all, the Americans fire the first shot - albeit a warning shot - leading the aliens to respond in force. When the aliens do respond with force, they are more concerned with disabling infrastructure rather than causing harm. One alien avoids killing a kid, and another repeatedly pushes a human assaulting him with a large wrench aside rather than killing him.

Sure, we assume that the aliens are signalling home to call an invasion, but we never get confirmation one way or the other. All we have is the (rational) fears of the human characters. From the alien perspective, they've just lost one of their ships and come under fire from the natives. It makes sense they'd want to establish communication home. The theory's expanded a bit here

  • I don't think this counts as a WMG, since the director has explicitly said as much. The article description even said so for a time.
  • The novelization written by Peter David makes the answer clear. The aliens (who refer to themselves as "Regents" in the novel) are here to investigate and evaluate humanity's potential as a threat. This is the real reason why they leave humans alone when not being fired upon: they are waiting for the humans to attack them first so they can properly see how dangerous the threat level is. The novelization also reveals that the reason why the Regents' fleet is so weak is possibly because of idiocy and/or political jockeying among the Regents' leaders: the Regent in charge of the fleet at Earth (called the "Land Commander") has a very low opinion of his superior, the "World Commander", believing that the World Commander does not understand how to fight a war properly and assigned him vastly insufficient firepower. The Land Commander knows his forces are woefully ill-prepared to fight a planetary population and are forced to scrounge human technology to build a transmitter that can signal his people that they really need reinforcements. Another point in the Land Commander's thought processes reveals that the Regents are stretched thin across the galaxy, so the World Commander really may not have had any other forces to spare to send to Earth. He thinks it still doesn't make the World Commander any less of an idiot, though.
  • Even without the novelization, the encasing of Hawaii in a forcefield could by itself be interpreted as an hostile action, but the disproportionate response to the warning shot (which itself was a response to the forcefield and that sonic wave that, if it was not an attack, looked a lot like one) and the following destruction of infrastructures in the island makes clear, at least to my eyes, their intentions are not peaceful. The fact they avoid directly attacking disarmed people (which is, i thing, more to avoid showing people being killed on-screen, than to show the aliens as peaceful) doesn't change the fact they kill a lot of civilians and military personnel with very little provocation. So if they really came in peace, they did a really bad job of it and are at least as guilty of the misunderstanding (a lot more in my opinion) as the earthlings.
    • The "not attacking disarmed people" makes more sense if you think of the Regents as military. They have their own version of the LOAC(Law of Armed Conflict). They don't attack the unarmed because they aren't combatants, lawful or unlawful. They can't attack them by order of their government. If they pick up a weapon and take a swing, they lose their protective status and are fair game.

The aliens are not invaders or explorers, they're refugees
Their only displayed weapons are either dumb-fire grenade launchers or very sophisticated razor drones. As a weapon, missiles are proven to be much more efficient than either. But consider, the aliens prefer either area of effect or high precision. Their weapons either blast away or burrow. Those don't sound efficient as weapons because they're not weapons. They're mining equipment! Their ships look sophisticated but are very fragile for spaceships, because they're not even military scout craft but are converted civilian vessels. Their message was not so much as a call for reinforcements but as a Don't Come Here for their refugee fleet.
  • The only problem is that they were either desperate for a landing site or unbelievably foolish for refugees. Landing on a populated island that is also a major military base when you are newcomers to the entire planet is already very risky; not to mention sending the buzz-drones rampaging through a city. Walling themselves off is not in itself a bad thing - at the very least until they could attempt diplomacy - but the way they did it in the movie held a large population hostage.

Related to the above; The Aliens are The Quintessons of the Tranformers Film Series Universe.

It really makes sense when you compare the similarities between their undulating/transforming weaponry and the Cybertronians themselves. This warlike race constantly experimented with variations of their transforming weapons until some idiot amongst them had the bright idea of giving them sentience, giving rise to an artificial Warrior Race Gone Horribly Right that was so effective in battle they drove their creators off Quintessa (renamed Cybertron), forcing them to seek out new homes.....

Battleship is what happens when the Transformers never make contact with Earth
What are the aliens running from? Megatron. Why blow up cars and automata? To make sure the Autobots aren't there in disguise. Why blow up roads? So Decepticons can't use them. Why put up a shield? So Decepticons can't drop in on them. Why do their scanners make it a point to scan for heartbeat and eye shapes? Because Decepticons can imitate biological forms too, as re: the second Bay movie.
  • Mother of God... aliens versus the transformers. Why didn't that happen sooner?
    • Well, Battleship and Transformers are both owned by Hasbro, so a crossover is completely possible.

The Aliens did not need the satellite
Why would aliens with such advanced technology need a human satellite? For comparison, that is like CNN needing a local country radio station.

The sequel, if their is one, will deal with the actual alien invasion.

One of the aliens was against the invasion
The alien that gives Alex the visions seemed less harmful, and more desperate and afraid. And note his armor, he's one of the smaller yellow suits. When the NASA scientist was retrieving his device, another yellow suit unit saw him and not only let him go, but actually grabbed the device to stop the scientist from shaking in fear. They may have been the same guy, and he may have been trying to sabotage the invasion.

The Magic Hate Balls are the alien equivalent of manned suits of power armor.
I'm honestly not sure how this crossed my mind, but seeing the magic hate balls in action brought to mind a group of sagacious aliens sitting around a table, asking themselves what they're going to do with the not-inconsiderable number of psychopaths signing up for military service. After a while, it is decided that the best way to handle enlisted madmen was not to gently steer them into mental hospitals, but instead channel their murderous impulses into a purpose-built weapon. A slightly disturbed engineer drafts up a high-speed chainsaw-ball with chainsaw-whips. The sagacious elders nod their heads and say Yes, this should do it, and we especially like the part where they're shot out of a canon. They'll like that. And indeed they did, serving in the alien space navy; and nine or so brave Magic Hate Ball pilots join the ill-starred crews of the HAMMC* Johnny Come Lately, HAMMC Pop That Corn, HAAMC Diggin' Up the World, HMSC No Flash Photography, and HAMCV* We Come In Peace.
  • Her Aquatic Majesty's Mining Craft; Her Aquatic Majesty's Shield Carrier; Her Aquatic Majesty's Communication Vessel.

This is the THIRD Battle on Earth.
We've already seen the movies for the first two. What were they? One was another similar movie, Battle: Los Angeles. The other: Cloverfield. We lost New York when the aliens unleashed some home grown or captive monstrosity on us. We fought them out of Los Angeles. Now, we just kicked their asses a second time in Hawai'i. The reason these aliens don't look the same is because the invaders aren't a single species, but a federation, coalition, or some other manner of alliance, and different species attacked Hawai'i and Los Angeles.

The aliens were out in space when they picked up the signal
2006 to 2011? Too little time for the signal to be picked up and get here even at light speed. This group happened to be passing nearby and got the message.
  • That's the same thing I thought. The only two "Gliese systems" I found in The Other Wiki would be Gliese 581 and Gliese 667, both with known goldilocks planets. But both of them are more than twenty light-years from Earth which means more than 20 years for the signal to reach them. On the other hand, Gliese is a catalog of about one thousand nearby stars all of them named Gliese some-number-or-other. So maybe in this movie's universe scientists discovered a goldilocks planet orbiting a star in the Gliese catalog only about five light-years away that they have yet to discover in the real world.

battleship takes place in the halo universe before halo takes place
masterchief's suit, the pelicans, and the pillar of autumn were all designed using what was left of the alien ships and armor. though since the aliens used non earth metals the final products came out slightly different.

There will soon be another alien movie, involving the army
Independence day: Air force VS aliens Battle los Angeles: Marines VS aliens. Battleship: Navy Vs aliens

the pattern is clear. We will have a movie where the army goes against aliens. Expect mass tank action and a lot of stuff blowing up thanks to Artillery. World War 2 setting: optional. It's a toss up weather it be more awesome with Shermans or Abrumss, I bet on M1's though.

The Aliens come from a civilization that did not invent guns.

At no point in the movie do the aliens use guns, and the only explosive weapons they have are the giant grenades/board game pylons, but while they are explosives, they aren't visibly propelled by explosions. It could be that these aliens built their entire tech base without even once realizing that explosion+tube+projectile = very good weapon.

It would explain the giant claxon/sonic weapon/warning, the aforementioned bomb pylons (Likely fired by magnetic rail or mechanical movement) the blenderbots... And the fact that when you corner an alien stooge, he doesn't reach for his backup submachinegun, but a freaking spikeblade.
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