Battlestar Galactia: Blood & Chrome
Two Stars (out of five)
2013. Released by Unviversal Home Video. Running time: 94 minutes. Not Rated. Widescreen. Has English Subtitles. Special features include interviews, a commentary, and a choice of watching the unrated, extended edition, or the original broadcast version. This was reviewed on Blu-Ray on April 7, 2014.

Running for four seasons on the Sci-Fi Channel (back when the network was known by that name) the new Battlestar Galactica (nuBSG) ran three years longer than the original late ’70s series that it was based on. Following the basic storyline of the original, nuBSG would amp it up with a far darker take on the material that emphasized the people aboard the Battlestar Galactica and the rag tag fleet of ship that it protected while they ran from the evil Cylons. The remake series, guided by writer/producer Ron Moore, would end with a bang in 2009, leaving no room in its storyline for sequels. And so the next best thing was produced, a prequel--one that was made without Moore’s input.

Taking place forty years before the events of nuBSG, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome tells the saga of the First Cylon War, an epic and costly struggle between human and robot that has just entered its tenth year when young William Adama, fresh out of flight school, joins the Battlestar Galactica as a rookie pilot. This pilot for a potential spin off series eschews the heavy drama of nuBSG for a more ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach, as we witness the war first hand through the young Adama’s eyes. With the sets from nu BSG having been torn down, the producers of B&C had to resort to using filming actors against CGI backdrops, with mixed results.

There are moments when the actors don’t blend in very well with their backgrounds, giving the proceedings the look of a cheap video game. And the CGI artists have taken it upon themselves to give the Galactica an overhaul where the command center is the size of a football stadium and the hanger deck looks like it can launch thousands of fighters. In any other production this would look great, but making these kind of drastic changes to a ship that’s already been established in a previous series just doesn’t work. Granted, the Galactica could have had a major refit in the forty years since the war, but refits usually don’t require making a ship smaller in size.

And B&C’s main thrust, that it’s more of a hard action show than nuBSG, is also flawed. The nuanced drama that nuBSG was famous for was what made the series so gripping in the first place. In order to root for a hero, even in an action film, you first must be made to care about him. But when you present cardboard characters who speak in clichés, and when your idea of drama is making these cutouts yell at each other and say gruff things, then it doesn’t matter how spectacular an action set piece is, because nobody will care about the people in the spaceship, anyway. Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome didn’t get picked up as a series, and it’s probably just as well. --SF

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