In 2005, scientists discover in the Gliese system (some 23 light years from Earth) an extrasolar planet, which is named Planet G, believed to be the closest planet to Earth having conditions nearly identical to Earth. In 2006, NASA completes the construction of a transmission device in Hawaii that is five times more powerful than any before it, and a program to contact the planet, known as The Beacon Project, begins.
Meanwhile, slacker Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) gets arrested while attempting to impress Sam Shane (Brooklyn Decker), daughter of U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Terrance Shane (Liam Neeson). Infuriated at Alex's lack of motivation to better himself, Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård), Alex's elder brother and a naval officer, forces him to also sign up for the U.S. Navy.
In 2012, Alex is a hothead and disrespectful lieutenant and Tactical Action Officer aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John Paul Jones, while Stone holds the rank of commander and the Commanding Officer of USS Sampson. Alex is in a relationship with Sam and is in danger of receiving a disciplinary discharge from the Navy. Their ships join the 2012 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) in Hawaii. During the exercises, five alien spacecraft arrive in response to the NASA signal (no explanation is given as to how these spacecraft cross 23 light years in a matter of hours). Their communications ship collides with a satellite and crashes in Hong Kong, causing heavy casualties and damage while the other four (a mothership and three warships) land in the water near the coast of Hawaii. Sampson, John Paul Jones, and the JMSDF Kongō-class destroyer Myōkō are ordered to investigate. Upon arrival at the indicated location, they discover a massive dormant floating structure. Alex and two crew members, GM2 Cora Raikes (Rihanna) and CPO "Beast" Lynch (John Tui), are sent to approach the structure in an armed Zodiac.
When Alex touches the structure, it knocks him away and generates a massive force field that encloses the Hawaiian Islands, separating the Navy ships from the RIMPAC fleet. The warships emerge from beneath the water and face the Navy ships in a defensive posture. Under Stone's orders, Sampson issues a blast from its foghorn, but one of the alien warships answers it with a damaging sonic blast, forcing Stone to order the John Paul Jones to fire a warning shot. This causes the alien warship monitors to reevaluate the Earth ships' friend or foe status, changing the color for the Navy ships from green to red and the alien warships respond with shots of their own. In the ensuing engagement, both the Sampson and the Myōkō are destroyed and sunk, and the John Paul Jones is badly damaged. In the ensuing crossfire, the Captain, the Commanding and the Executive Officers of the John Paul Jones are all killed.
From the Zodiac, Alex sees his brother die in the explosion aboard the Sampson and returns to his ship. Being the most senior officer left on the ship, he is forced to take command, to his own disbelief and the disbelief of the crew. Angered by his brother's death, Alex orders an attack, but Beast manages to dissuade him. They recover the survivors from Myōkō, including Captain Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), with whom Alex recently began a rivalry. The structure launches drones towards Hawaii, which attack and destroy military and civilian infrastructure installations on the island of Oahu.
In Oahu, Sam, a physical therapist, is accompanying retired U.S. Army Colonel and double amputee Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadson), on a mountain hike to help him adapt to his prosthetic legs. Sam and Mick run into some police officers who order them to get off the mountain. The officers head up the mountain but are ambushed and killed by the aliens. Sam and Mick run into scientist Cal Zapata (Hamish Linklater), who works at the communications array and informs them that the aliens have taken over the communications array. They realize that the aliens are modifying it to reestablish communications with their home planet and call for reinforcements; their attack on the island's infrastructure was intended to prevent the military stationed on the island from responding.
On the John Paul Jones, naval personnel capture a semiconscious alien from the communications ship. The alien grabs Alex's face when startled by a bright light in its eye and it forms a brief telepathic link with him, showing him that they have successfully invaded and conquered other planets. Other aliens arrive to rescue their captured comrade. One alien stays aboard, intending to sabotage the ship, and Alex kills it by tricking it into the firing line of a 5"/54 caliber Mark 45 gun. Investigating the captured alien's helmet, Seaman Ordy (Jesse Plemons) is able to determine that the aliens are sensitive to sunlight.
Ashore, as the force field has disabled communications, Sam and Mick force Zapata to recover his spectrum analyzer from the aliens. He is confronted by one in the process, but his lack of action from fear causes it to not consider him to be a threat and lets him go. Using it, Sam and Mick contact the John Paul Jones crew and inform them that in four hours, the aliens will be able to contact their planet.
Now under Alex's command, the John Paul Jones prepares to retaliate. With their radar functions disabled by the force field, Captain Nagata suggests using NOAA's tsunami warning buoys around Hawaii to track the alien warships. Using this strategy, the John Paul Jones destroys and sinks two of the alien warships using standard missile, but are unable to hit the evasively maneuvering third warship. At dawn, they manage to make the third warship face east, where Alex and Nagata shoot out its bridge windows. Blinded by sunlight, the warship's crew is disorganized. Seizing the chance, the John Paul Jones successfully destroys it with its full arsenal, but the ship becomes targeted by shredder-drones. The crew abandons the John Paul Jones, which is rapidly destroyed by the shredder-drones and is sunk.
Alex, along with the survivors of the John Paul Jones and Myōkō return to Pearl Harbor and commandeer the USS Missouri, a decommissioned battleship turned into a museum ship. They reactivate the battleship with the aid of the retired veterans preserving her, and confront the massive floating structure, which is revealed to be a part of the submerged Mothership. In the ensuing battle, the Missouri's 16-inch main guns severely damage the mothership, disabling the force field in the process. Meanwhile, Sam, Mick and Zapata attempt to stall the aliens at the communications array. The Mothership reactivates, and prepares to fire shredder-drones. Instead of shooting the Mothership, Alex uses the last shell to destroy the communications array, cutting the aliens' contact with their home planet. Before the Missouri is destroyed, Australian F/A-18 fighters from the RIMPAC fleet arrive and destroy the shredder-drones and the mothership, eliminating the alien threat.
A ceremony is held by Admiral Shane to honour the military personnel, where Alex is promoted to lieutenant commander, and presented with a Silver Star and his brother's posthumous Navy Cross. After the ceremony, Alex is given an offer to become a Navy SEAL. He then asks Admiral Shane for his daughter's hand in marriage. The admiral initially refuses, but then invites Alex to lunch to discuss the matter, referencing how Alex and Sam met.
In a post-credits scene, three teenagers and a handyman in Scotland discover a crashed alien pod. When they open it, an alien hand reaches out, and they run off in terror.Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant (Lieutenant Commander-select) Alex Hopper, an undisciplined, hothead, ex-enlisted U.S. Navy officer assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones as Tactical Action Officer.
Alexander Skarsgård as Commander Stone Hopper, Alex's older brother and Commanding Officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson.
Rihanna as Gunner's Mate Second Class (GM2) Cora Raikes, a weapons specialist aboard John Paul Jones.
Brooklyn Decker as Samantha "Sam" Shane, a physical therapist and Alex Hopper's girlfriend.
Tadanobu Asano as Captain Nagata, JMSDF, Commanding Officer of JDS Myōkō.
Hamish Linklater as Cal Zapata, a scientist working on Oahu.
Liam Neeson as Admiral Terrance Shane, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and father of Samantha Shane.
Peter MacNicol as the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
John Tui as Chief Petty Officer Walter "Beast" Lynch, a senior enlisted member aboard John Paul Jones.
Gregory D. Gadson as retired Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales, a U.S. Army combat veteran and double amputee.
Adam Godley as Dr. Nogrady, the scientist leading "The Beacon Project" communication program.
Jesse Plemons as Jimmy "Ordy" Ord, Boatswain's mate Seaman on John Paul Jones.
Joji Yoshida as Chief Engineer Hiroki
Battleship was to begin filming in Australia's Gold Coast in 2010, but the production company changed location due to a lack of Australian government tax incentives and a high estimated budget of $209 million.
Filming took place in the United States on the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Oahu, as well as in Sherman Oaks, California to do a few apartment scenes and in Playa del Rey, California where they filmed a driving scene along with a shootout. Further filming was done on the USS Missouri. Some scenes were also filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The Science & Entertainment Exchange provided science consultation for the film.
A Kongō-class destroyer of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force also appeared in the film.
Jeremy Renner was originally considered for the role of Hopper, but the actor chose to star in a Paul Thomas Anderson drama filming at roughly the same time. In April 2010, it was reported that Taylor Kitsch had been cast as Alex Hopper, Alexander Skarsgård played his brother Stone Hopper, Brooklyn Decker stars as Sam, Hopper's fiancee and Liam Neeson as Admiral Shane, Sam's father and Hopper's superior officer. Barbadian R&B singer Rihanna makes her acting debut in the film, as a sailor. In an interview with GQ, Berg explained how he came up with the idea to cast her. He realized she could act after her appearance on Saturday Night Live. She accepted the role because she wanted "to do something badass" and also because it wasn't a role too big for her to play. Tadanobu Asano also has a role in the film as the commander of a Japanese Kongō-class destroyer. Double amputee U.S. Army Colonel Gregory Gadson, who had never acted before, plays LTC Mick Canales. He was cast after Berg saw a picture of him in the National Geographic Magazine.
The film marks the reunion between former co-stars Kitsch and Jesse Plemons, who previously worked together on Berg's TV series Friday Night Lights. Berg said he loves working with friends and explained he knew how comfortable Kitsch was with Plemons, "I know that he’s really good for Taylor and he makes Taylor better. So, I wrote that whole part for Jesse." He added, "I never thought of it as a Friday Night Lights reunion. I thought of it as protection, bringing a trusted family member in."
U.S. Navy sailors were used as extras in various parts of this film. Sailors from assorted commands in Navy Region Hawaii assisted with line handling to take Missouri in and out of port for a day of shooting in mid 2010. A few months later, the production team put out a casting call for sailors stationed at various sea commands at Naval Station Mayport, Florida to serve as extras. Sailors were also taken from various ships stationed at Naval Station Mayport, Jacksonville, Florida: USS Hué City, USS Carney and USS Vicksburg were some of the ships that provided sailors.
Due to his success with the Transformers franchise, composer Steve Jablonsky was chosen to score the official soundtrack. The soundtrack features original compositions from Jablonsky and features rock guitarist Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. Director Peter Berg stated:
Working with composers often is a really frustrating experience because you speak a different language and, oftentimes, they take two or three jobs, at the same time. They're difficult and pretentious and they're tormented artists. I'm not going to name names, but most of them are. One guy who isn't is Hans Zimmer, who taught Steve Jablonsky. We had a couple of meetings and I came up with this idea. The day I met with him, I had had an MRI for my neck, and they make that really scary sound. I was like, 'I just had this MRI, and when I was in there, I was thinking about the aliens, and it was really scary.' And he was like, 'Oh, that's awesome!' He went and recorded MRIs and made music out of MRIs, and that's the theme of the aliens in our film. He is no drama, and just goes and gets it done. The score is big and awesome and scary and driving. At times, it's very simple and acoustic and touching and emotional. He's the best I've ever worked with.
All songs written and composed by Steve Jablonsky except where noted.Additional music credits
Stone Temple Pilots – "Interstate Love Song"
Billy Squier – "Everybody Wants You"
Lucky Clark – "My Lai"
The Black Keys – "Gold on the Ceiling"
Citizen Cope – "One Lovely Day"
Dropkick Murphys – "Hang 'Em High"
Carl Perkins – "Blue Suede Shoes"
AC/DC – "Hard as a Rock"
ZZ Top – "I Gotsta Get Paid"
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – "Waltz: On the Beautiful Blue Danube"
AC/DC – "Thunderstruck"
Band of Horses – "The Funeral"
Creedence Clearwater Revival – "Fortunate Son"
The film was originally planned to be released in 2011, but was rescheduled to May 18, 2012, in the United States. The film's world premiere took place in Tokyo on April 3, 2012. The event was attended by director Peter Berg, actors Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgård and Rihanna. Later on they initiated a Press Tour visiting Madrid, London and Cartagena de Indias to promote the film.
The film earned $303,025,485, and only $65,422,625 in North America. With a budget of $209 million the film was considered one of the biggest bombs of the summer.
The film opened outside North America on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, more than five weeks before its North America release, earning $7.4 million. Through Friday, April 13, the film had earned a 3-day total of $25 million. By the end of its opening weekend, it earned $55.2 million from 26 markets, ranking second behind the 3D re-release of Titanic.
However, on its second weekend, it topped the box office outside North America, with $60 million. In South Korea, it achieved the highest-grossing opening day for a non-sequel and the third-highest overall ($2.8 million). In comparison to other Hasbro films, Battleship's opening in the UK (£3.76 million) was behind the first Transformers (£8.72 million), but did better than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (£1.71 million).
In North America, Battleship grossed $8.8 million on its opening day (Friday, May 18, 2012), with $420,000 originating from midnight showings, and finished the weekend with $25.5 million. It settled in second place for its opening day and opening weekend behind Marvel's The Avengers.
Metacritic has given the film an average score of 41 out of 100 based on 39 reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 34% based on reviews from 209 critics, with a rating average of 4.6 out of 10. The site's consensus reads: "It may offer energetic escapism for less demanding filmgoers, but Battleship is too loud, poorly written, and formulaic to justify its expense -- and a lot less fun than its source material."
Megan Lehmann of The Hollywood Reporter thought that the "impressive visual effects and director Peter Berg's epic set pieces fight against an armada of cinematic clichés and some truly awful dialogue." Empire magazine's Nick de Semlyen felt there was a lack of character development and memorable action shots, and sums up his review of the movie in one word: "Miss."
Many reviews criticised the "based on a board game" concept driving the film, although some, such as Jason Di Rosso from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National, claimed the ridiculousness of the setup is "either sheer joy or pure hell – depending on how seriously you take it", while de Semlyen "had to admire [the film's creators] jumping through hoops to engineer a sequence that replicates the board game." Several compared the film to Michael Bay's Transformers film series in terms of quality and cinematic style, with Giles Hardie of The Sydney Morning Herald claiming that the movie "finds the same balance between action-packed imagination and not taking the premise seriously that made Michael Bay's original Transformers such a joyride." Andrew Harrison of Q magazine called the film "crushingly stupid". Film critic Kenneth Turan, in a review written for the Los Angeles Times, also expressed disappointment, criticizing the film's "humanoid aliens", stating that they are "as ungainly as the movie itself, clunking around in awkward, protective suits." He called the content "all very earnest", but added "it's not a whole lot of fun". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film one out of four stars, and he comment "Battleship is all noise and crashing metal, sinking to the shallows of Michael Bay's Armageddon and then digging to the brain-extinction level of the Transformers trilogy."
Other critics were less harsh for Battleship: Writing for Time, Steven James Snyder was somewhat positive because he had low expectations of the film. He wrote, "The creative team behind this ocean-bound thriller decided to fill the narrative black hole with a few ingredients all but absent from today’s summer tent poles – namely mystery, nostalgia and a healthy dose of humility" and described it as "an unlikely mix of Independence Day, Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park and The Hunt for Red October". Giving it a B+ grade, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly said, "For every line of howler dialogue that should have been sunk, there's a nice little scene in which humans have to make a difficult decision. For every stretch of generic sci-fi-via-CGI moviemaking, there's a welcome bit of wit." The Washington Post gave the film a three-star rating out of four commenting it is "an invigorating blast of cinematic adrenaline". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2½ stars out of 4, praising the climax as "an honest-to-God third act, instead of just settling for nonstop fireballs and explosions, as Bay likes to do. I don't want to spoil it for you. Let's say the Greatest Generation still has the right stuff and leave it at that."
Battleship was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc on August 20, 2012 in the United Kingdom, and on August 28 in the United States and Canada. Its revenue was $32.4 million.
A video game based on the film, titled Battleship: The Video Game, was released on May 15, 2012 to coincide with the film's international release. The game was published by Activision and developed by Double Helix Games for PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360, and developed by Magic Pockets for Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS.
Hasbro released several new editions of the classic board game, including an update to the regular fleet-vs.-fleet game and a "movie edition", featuring the alien vessels and a card-based play mode.