The alien design and tech was based on conversations with futurists, paleontologists and orthopedic surgeons about different animals, in order to create psychologically-engaging creatures that are similar enough to us that audiences will believe that there is a reasonably even-matched battle in play. According to Berg, the beings are rational. “They care about each other and they protect themselves,” he says. “They are not really interested in you. They’re just interested in the minerals and the resources of your planet.”
The concept of the arrival is based on the signals we send out to “Goldie Locks” planets. The real-world science is taken from the Kepler satellite, which gathers information in deep space on other solar systems, particularly as it pertains to the distance between planets and suns. They are looking for planets that share a similar relationship with their sun that we do to ours, so “not too hot, not too cold.” We have been targeting these planets with signals in order to invite them into a “conversation.” Stephen Hawking did a documentary in which he (not surprisingly) maintained that this practice is a very bad idea. The assumption being that, if we invite these other species “into our home” as it were, then they might view our planet as a giant resource. They may send out scouts who would then in turn want to signal back home. Our task, if that were to occur, would become to stop them from sending that signal.
Of course, none of this is to say that the film is taking itself too seriously. It is, after all, an expansive summer thrill-ride that works to combine humor, large set pieces, grand-scale visual spectacle and entertaining action sequences. “This is not ‘Lone Survivor’ (another project Berg is working on) which is a harrowing tale about the nineteen Navy SEALS that were killed in a horrible battle in Afghanistan,” the director emphasizes. “This is a real different experience, and I feel like we’re on to it.”
The trajectory of the story, from what we saw, feels a bit like Top Gun meets Independence Day. “The arc of (Taylor Kitsch’s character Lt. Alex Hopper) is from zero to hero,” Berg says. He is the maverick, as it were, the bad-boy savant who must rise to the occasion, man-up and take the fast track to maturity in order to meet the responsibilities that he is being presented with. The character journey becomes about why he must do this (to save the planet and get the girl) and the question becomes — how?
The director, who has put so much emphasis on practical effects in his previous films, has had to learn a bit of a new language during the course of production and post-production on Battleship.
“We were able to shoot large chunks of it practically, but very rarely was it ever one hundred percent practical,” he says. “It’s why I was real insistent that we work with ILM – who’s consistently proven themselves to be the best at making CGI look like it was done practically.”
The process, however, is slow in its nature and a little bit frustrating. Berg likens it to sculpting.
“If you had to do a big wood sculpture out of this block right here. If you’re paying someone a lot of money to do it, and you have a couple of guys chiseling, you come in after a few hours and nothing is done. You come in two days later and nothing. Four days nothing. Two weeks nothing. Four weeks and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute. That does look like a head. It’s not great, but at least it’s a head. Now there’s an arm. There’s a body.’ It’s a slow reveal. I tend to be kind of impatient and a little hyper and I want to see it and if I say, ‘Okay, lets go do this,’ I’m used to it being done.”
“For me it’s a bit easier because I can understand where it’s going,” he continues.
“For some of my bosses who are out on a ledge and they just want to see it and they’re giving me all this money and I’ve had all this time, they’re like, ‘You’re showing me cartoons?’ I’m like, ‘Relax.’ A lot of it is just keeping everyone calm and staying the course. I’m confident now and I believe in this film. I want to make a film that, at the end of the day, appeals to the inner twelve-year-old boy in all of us. Women included.”
It’s been several months since the initial teaser trailer and poster for Battleship were released. The new trailer will be launching online tomorrow and in theaters next weekend in front of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. We had the opportunity to take an early look this morning and can report that while the teaser trailer focused on giving viewers a taste for the story and characters in the film, this trailer will reveal the scope and scale of the aforementioned spectacle.
The marketing team likely intendeds to communicate the level of craftsmanship involved in the effects that ILM has created, the expansive nature of the action (battles are fought on land, air and sea across the planet) and the unique nature of the aliens. Although the focus was to create, as producer Scott Stuber says, ” a WWII like battle where we are able to have a common enemy” (an invading force from another world) the aliens in this film are specific and distinct from one another — infantry, scientists and command. As the campaign progresses we can expect to see more of a combination of all the elements that Berg has worked to bring to the film.
Berg himself is anxious for the opportunity to share the film in its totality with audiences. “I really believe in this film,” he says. ”I look forward to next summer.”
Battleship is directed by Peter Berg (Hancock) from a script by Erich & Jon Hoeber (Red) and produced by Scott Stuber (Couples Retreat), Sarah Aubrey (The Kingdom), Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir of Hasbro (the Transformers franchise), along with Duncan Henderson (Master and Commander) and Jeffrey Silver (300). The film stars Liam Neeson (Unknown), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood), Taylor Kitsch (John Carter), Josh Pence (The Dark Knight Rises), Brooklyn Decker (Just Go With It), Rihanna and Tadanobu Asano (Thor).
Battleship opens in theaters on May 18th, 2012.
“The battle for Earth begins at sea.” www.battleshipmovie.com
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