Universal's board game adaptation ditches the round pegs and plastic destroyers of the original Battleship for a high-seas skirmish between the US Navy and aliens. The Wonder-Con panel featured tons of new footage, showing us the movie's aliens and its zany sense of humor. And we heard Rihanna's answer to "Hasta la vista, baby."
In the first extended sequence, we find Taylor Kitsch's Alex celebrating his birthday with his older brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgård) in a Hawaiian dive bar). Alex is drifting through life, and Stone says he should either get a job or join him in the navy. Alex is distracted by Brooklyn Decker's character Samantha, who enters the bar trying to order a burrito. The kitchen, however, is closed, and Alex tries to win her over by getting her a burrito in five minutes.
Unfortunately, the convenience store next door is closed, so Alex decides to break in and get her the burrito anyway. We switch to security cam footage - complete with Pink Panther theme - to see Alex breaking into the store, getting the burrito, and subsequently wrecking most of the merchandise in his attempt to get back out. The scene ends in complete chaos, with Alex running away from - and getting tasered by — the cops, a sequence that causes multiple cars to crash into each other to avoid hitting him. But hey — he gets Brooklyn Decker the burrito, and a true love is born.
The sequence also offers a big clue as to why the aliens came to Earth, something director Peter Berg expanded on in the panel. The footage starts with Alex watching a TV report on NASA building a giant beacon on Hawaii meant to send out signals to other intelligent life. Berg says the aliens answered that call and initially came to Earth, with no real plans to invade. But then, as these things so often do, things went wrong, and the battle began, which leads us to the next sneak peek clip.
The second sequence skips a few years into the future and in the midst of the battle with the aliens, which director Peter Berg revealed are referred to as Regents. The senior staff has been killed and so Alex, now a lieutenant in the navy, has become acting captain. He examines a captured alien, who has cat-like eyes, tough spikes on his chin where a beard would be, and a pronounced nose ridge. Otherwise, the creature is essentially humanoid. We see some flashbacks to the aliens' previous battles on charred, bombed out worlds. We also get some POV shots inside the alien's helmets, which feature built-in computers that analyze objects around it from humans to weapons to nuclear reactors and assess their potential threat level.
In the middle of their investigation, a bunch of other aliens burst in to save their comrade. They fly away in a transport ship, but Alex realizes at least one alien is still on the ship. He and a team (including Rihanna's Petty Officer Cora Raikes) sweep the ship, and one of the men gets grabbed by an alien and thrown across an entire corridor. One alien bursts into the engine room and messes with one of the main reactors.
Alex interrupts him, and sends Cora to the control deck while he leads the alien out onto the deck. He gets the crap more or less beaten out of him, but he and Cora have a plan. He buys her time to aim one of the cannons point-blank at the alien's head. It turns around to see the cannon about to be fired. Rihanna quips, "Mahalo, motherfucker" — and the cannon blows the alien away.
They also previewed the next full trailer, which will air before Wrath of the Titans. It featured a lot more of the carnage we've seen in the previous trailers and will give audiences at large the first good look at the aliens — or, at least, one of its eyes. It also confirms that Hong Kong is the city we see leveled in the other trailers. All the footage is pretty much what you'd expect — big, goofy action scenes that show a bit of sense of humor about the general ridiculousness of all of this, with the burrito theft a winningly silly bit. If this thing is going to work as a complete movie, I'd say a lot more of that ever so slightly self-aware sense of humor will be key.
During the panel, director Peter Berg explained that he had wanted to do a movie about the navy for a long time, but it was hard finding a project that the studio was willing to sign off on. The Battleship brand let him do his naval movie. He said that he completely understands the skepticism about how Battleship could possibly work as a movie. But he argued there's something about the idea of the game — in which you keep missing and missing, until you finally hit a target, at which point you try to kill as quickly and ruthlessly as possible without showing any mercy for the enemy. He said there's something about that idea that can be the DNA of a movie.
When asked what her character sees in Alex, Decker explained that she likes that he comes through for her, even if it ends with rampant property destruction and him getting tasered multiple times. She also pointed to her character's background as the daughter of Liam Neeson's admiral, which gave her a rebellious streak that might make her more attracted to less straitlaced heroes like Alex.
Decker explained there is a scene where her character hikes through the mountains of Hawaii and discovers a huge scene of horrendous carnage, which causes her to break down in terror — a feeling that director Peter Berg got out of her in her audition piece by actually firing a live machine gun near her, which she quite rightly observed was completely insane. Speaking of guns, she confirmed that her character isn't just a bystander, and that she gets to shoot some guns.
Battleship opens April 11 in the United Kingdom and May 18 in the United States.