Friday, 23 December 2011

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

Cylon Night

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan
US 2009
Directed by Edward James Olmos
Universal Region 2

Warning: The prophets say that there are going to be big, generalised spoilers covering the first couple of seasons of the recent Battlestar Galactica TV show... so say we all.

You know, I really don’t watch much television when it comes down to it. Sure I watch "a" television, but most of the things I watch on that are movies on DVD. However, when the rebooted Battlestar Galactica TV mini series showed up in Britain a while ago, I made a point of watching it... even though I wasn’t expecting much as a fan of the original movie and TV show from when I used to watch it as a ten year old.

I think what got to me mostly was the absolutely kick ass score which was on that new original mini series (and subsequent full series) plus the combination of clever acting and that damn moving camera-that-catches-things style of shooting which programmes like Firefly also used to utilise to great effect. The added paranoia element created by the fact that the upper echelon of the cylons now look exactly like humans (albeit the same twelve models) was the final “page turner” on a TV show which, while I admittedly watched all the subsequent series on DVD, was one of the best to air on television when it came out and, frankly, hasn’t had much to compete with for that title as far as I can tell (although that’s a bit of a sweeping statement considering, as I said, I don’t really watch much made-for-TV fair).

Anyway, the saga of the new Battlestar Galactica was absolutely riveting and even the final episode, which really trowelled the religious angle on and played up to the overt spiritual thread running through the show “big time”, was no dampener on a series that had been at times nail biting and OMG in equal parts since the end of the first season. So it might possibly come as some surprise, given my background with the show, that the so called “prequel” special directed by the actor who plays Colonel Adama (but whom I’ll always think of as Gaff from Blade Runner... hence the term “skin job” in Battlestar Galactica, presumably) is something which I’ve only just got around to watching. All I’m going to say on that particular count is... £3 is better than paying £20 and leave it at that. Amazon are getting their stock in a lot cheaper these days. ;-)

So anyway... “How good can a prequel/cash-in be?” I thought to myself as I sat down to watch. Well, the answer is... simply... very good!

And it absolutely blew my expectations of it out of the water right from the start. It turns out, you see, that it’s not really a prequel after all but actually an alternate view of some of the previous parts of the series, but told from the point of view of the cylons who are hiding among the humans both on the Galactica itself and on Caprica. To be precise, it covers the mini series and onwards up to a point somewhere in season 2 and, because of this, it’s able to start with a bang showing an alternate perspective of the invasion/destruction of the human colonies by the cylons... all set to Bear McCreary’s rocking soundtrack which is, as always, absolutely fantastic but, in this instance I felt, sadly dialled down too much in the mix.

Nevertheless, the whole of the first 20 minutes is absolutely fantastic and I was mightily surprised to find that this episode also had naked ladies running around in it which is certainly not something I’d expect to see in an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Woo hoo! Battlestar Erotica anyone? Sadly, none of the main characters bare all for their art here but seriously, my mind was blown that they would allow this kind of thing on a TV show of such huge primetime popularity in the first place. Naked Galacticans!

Nudity and explosions aside, however, the episode tells the story behind the scenes from the cylons as they go through with a campaign to rid themselves of the humans... Boomer’s sabotage of the water, Boomer's assassination attempt on Adama etc and as the episode/tv movie progresses, you realise that the leader of this particular cylon cell, played again by Dean Stockwell, is seeing the absolute utter failure of any of his cylons to carry out their missions successfully and it’s actually a study of the way in which most of the cylons are corrupted by their contact with the humans and the way in which they begin to empathise with them... apart from one notable scene where Dean Stockwell does something that I don’t want to spoil for anyone here. Lets just say that anyone familiar with both John Carpenter’s original Assault On Precinct 13 and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan will know what I’m talking about. Raspberry ripple anyone?

The Plan is a curious beast because, although it’s set chronologically amongst the mini series and the two series that succeed it, there’s absolutely no way you want to watch this one until you’ve seen all of the episodes of the regular TV show. This movie does, right from the start, for instance, reveal/remind you of the identities of “the final five” cylon models who are a little more special than the rest of them... something you are so not going to want to know until its revealed within the original show itself. That being said though, if you do take the time to wade through all those original episodes, The Plan is a really cool addendum to those early days which you will surely appreciate if you’ve been following the show from its inception. It’s very much a supporting piece as opposed to a stand alone but that in no way detracts from the artistry and sense of compelling fascination you get from watching it... it’s a seriously kick-ass little TV movie and it gives me renewed hope that the franchise could, just possibly, successfully continue past the realms of it’s original shelf life... although bearing in mind the events of the last episode of the actual series... it’s very hard to do a direct sequel, obviously. Plus the Caprica TV series/prequel got cancelled fairly quickly from what I remember... so maybe not.

However, to sum up... if you’ve not seen the original shows (The Mini Series, The Full Series and Razor) then leave this one until you have taken a look at them (and please do, it’s seriously one of the best TV shows ever), but if you’re already up on all that stuff, take a look at Battlestar Galactica: The Plan... it’s seriously good viewing.

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