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Whatever the plot, Missouri has big role in 'Battleship'

By Mike Gordon


Hollywood director Peter Berg brought his "Battleship" cameras back to Hawaii last week to shoot additional scenes with the film's biggest star: the Mighty Mo.

The decommissioned USS Missouri will have a prominent role in the $200 million project, which did most of its filming in Hawaii in the summer of 2010, including five days on the battleship-turned-memorial.

On this trip, Berg spent three days on the Missouri and brought some of the movie's main stars: Brooklyn Decker, Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons (the last two are buddies from his critically acclaimed TV series "Friday Night Lights").

The plot of "Battleship," whenever it was reported, has always been vague, and a movie trailer released earlier this year by Universal Pictures didn't help.

Set in and around Hawaii, the story pits the Navy — which helped make the film — in a battle against malevolent aliens. (Are there any other kind?) At the end of the trailer, the Mighty Mo, which hasn't fired a shot since the Persian Gulf War, is seen blasting away with its big guns.

Michael Carr, president and chief operating officer for the Battleship Missouri Memorial, believes the movie will showcase the Mighty Mo "in all her glory."

"From what I know of the plot, which admittedly is not much, the ship is the hero of the movie," he said. "When all is lost, there is one more ship that they haul out of mothballs because it is so different than modern ships that run on nuclear power. And they have to bring all these old Navy guys out of retirement to run it."

The cameras even captured the Mighty Mo at sea, although it needed help to get there because its engines no longer run. In January 2010, months before Berg brought his production crew to Hawaii and one day after completion of the ship's $18 million maintenance project, Universal Pictures had the 54,000-ton Missouri towed outside of Pearl Harbor.

ABOUT 90 actors and background extras were used during Berg's recent shooting, including what the "Battleship" producers call "the old salts" — actual military veterans playing retired sailors, said Judy Bouley, one of the film's casting directors.

Despite the size of the production crew, "Battleship" left a small footprint on the restored dreadnought, which has been berthed at Ford Island as a memorial ever since it was towed from Bremerton, Wash., in 1998.

Carr said the filmmakers treated the ship with respect.

"Running wires down several decks into the below-decks area where they filmed in the engine room and the fire rooms and all the equipment being rolled over the teak decks always presents some danger of damage," he said. "But we were alert to it and they were conscious of it."

The memorial expects to see a spike in visitors once the film hits theaters in May, but screen time won't be the only thing boosting its public image, Carr said. Because Universal made the film in conjunction with Hasbro, makers of the board game the movie is named for, the toymaker is creating a powerful marketing strategy, he said.

And no, he isn't offering details.

"The whole point of the movie, from Hasbro's perspective, is to draw attention to their products," Carr said. "I saw a presentation they made at their offices in Rhode Island of the products they intend to market in conjunction with the release of the movie. It's mind-boggling."

AND that's a wrap …

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. Read his Outtakes Online blog at Reach him at 529-4803 or email

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