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Monday, May 21, 2012

Battleship and Civic Culture

The new science-fiction action movie Battleship is short on scientific accuracy and believable characters, but it is loaded with reverence for military personnel and veterans.

The Navy is getting the opportunity to showcase its men and women in uniform in director Peter Berg’s summer action movie “Battleship,” which was released Friday.
The Navy allowed the film crew to visit destroyers USS Hopper, USS Preble and USS Chung-hoon in Hawaii, as well as watch training at sea. The crew also filmed aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the ship on which the Japanese surrendered to Allied forces in 1945.
“We’re here to reaffirm … Hollywood’s love, admiration and respect for the United States military. We love you guys, we appreciate what you do, we appreciate what your spouses do, what your kids do, and we made this movie for you,” said Mr. Berg, whose father served in the Marine Corps.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
While promoting the movie "Battleship" in Tokyo last month,U.S. Army Col. Greg Gadson found himself face-to-face with a stunned reporter.
"He thought I was computer-generated," said Gadson, a burly former West Point football player who walks with the aid of futuristic-looking titanium prosthetics. "He thought my legs were movie magic."
There was no CGI needed for Gadson's performance as a wounded combat veteran in "Battleship" — both of his legs were amputated above the knee after he was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007. "Battleship" director Peter Berg cast Gadson in the movie, which opened in Los Angeles last Friday, after seeing an imposing photograph of the soldier in a National Geographic article about advances in artificial limbs.
Berg also enlisted dozens of other wounded soldiers as extras in "Battleship," which stars Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna as a Naval lieutenant and petty officer whose ship becomes embroiled in an alien attack. Gadson plays Mick, a double amputee struggling through his first rehab session with a physical therapist (Brooklyn Decker) when the extraterrestrials arrive.
"I believe we don't do enough to respect our veterans," said Berg, who shot one sequence of the film at the Center for the Intrepid, a facility in San Antonio that treats amputees and burn victims who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. "And we tend to outright ignore the people who've been seriously hurt."

Bloomberg reports:
During the making of the movie "Battleship," the science fiction thriller pitting U.S. naval forces against alien attackers, the Navy requested just one key change: replace an overweight actor portraying an officer with a slimmer one, according to director Peter Berg.
The surface-ship tale, a special-effects-laden movie which opens nationally today, received full U.S. Navy cooperation. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had a one-line role as commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier: "Commence air operations."
The cooperation included filming on U.S. vessels during the RIMPAC 2010 naval exercise and at famous Hawaiian sites, use of sailors on leave, helicopter flights and one day at sea filming the USS Missouri, a floating museum normally docked at Pearl Harbor. The so-called Mighty Mo battleship last fired its guns during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
In exchange for such access, equipment and personnel, filmmakers must modify a script if requested by the Pentagon or military service. Among the most famous maritime films that received Pentagon and Navy support was 1990's "The Hunt for Red October."