Battleship featurette cracks the crust

Posted by CB Droege

Hasbro recently released a featurette for its upcoming board-game based alien invasion action film Battleship.

We are given some new footage here, showcasing some more of the film’s effects, but we also see a strange bit of scientific babble:

The term Goldilocks planet was not invented for this film, of course, it refers to any planet of specific properties which would allow for life as we know it to exists, one which avoids the extremes that would be difficult to survive within. Such a planet for example, will have some regions of surface temperature between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius - to allow for liquid water on the surface - and the atmospheric pressures required to let it flow around on the surface without floating away.

There are other factors of course, and it makes sense to a certain extent that malevolent alien lifeforms would look for a planet like that to conquer for themselves. The odd part here is that the characters in the film seem to be talking about such planets as if they are so rare that they have only just discovered the first one, when in fact real scientists have already confirmed over a dozen such planets in our part of the galaxy, with several dozen more candidates which require further study, and believe that hundreds of such planets are likely to exists across the Milky Way alone.

Further, the characters seem to be sending a weirdly visible message out to that planet, which apparently responds with ships almost immediately. However, with any communication technology even dreamed of, any broadcast would take years to get to such a planet. The nearest star system to ours (which doesn’t have a Goldilocks planet) would take over 5 years just for our signal to reach it, and no amount of alien technology could help them receive it any faster. This setting doesn’t look very futuristic either, so I’m not guessing that they will try to explain it away by talking about some futuristic We only know so little about the film so far, and we can already see that it’s not going to have any strong sci-fi elements.

Essentially, this will be an effects only type of film. Those effects look pretty so far, but if you leave your brain turned on in the theater, you won’t be able to enjoy them. Of course, it’s still more than I ever expected from a film based on a plotless semi-tactical boardgame.

The idea of the boardgame, if you somehow haven’t played before, is that each player fires missiles blindly at the opponent’s ocean, only knowing if their missile hits, then basing further moves on the pattern of hits and misses, taking turns until one fleet or the other is completely covered in little red ‘hit’ markers. Mostly it’s a game of chance, with little actual skill unless you get two players who know the game or each other very well.

In this film, the blind firing is represented by a lack of ability to ‘see’ the alien ships on sonar or radar, and the limited engagement space is created by a force-field the aliens deploy.

The ships, guided by a surly Liam Neeson and a rebellious Taylor Kitsch, will have to find a way to fend off the aliens blindly from inside their limited field of engagement. The sub-plot puts Kitsch’s character in bed with Neeson’s character’s daughter, played by Brooklyn Decker.

Here’s the latest trailer, for reference:

Battleship, which also stars Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Josh Pence, Jesse Plemons and Peter MacNicol, opens May 18, 2012.