Battlestar Galactica – The Miniseries

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Edward James Olmos as Cmdr. William Adama
Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin
Katee Sackhoff as Lt. Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace
Jamie Bamber as Capt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama
James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar
Tricia Helfer as Number 6
Callum Keith Rennie as Leoben Conoy
Grace Park as Lt. (j.g.) Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii
Michael Hogan as Col. Paul Tigh
Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral
Paul Campbell as Billy Keikeya
Aaron Douglas as Chief Petty Officer Tyrol
Lorena Gale as Priest Elosha
Barclay Hope as Transport pilot
Kandyse McClure as Petty Officer 2nd Dualla

Special Features:
Feature Commentary with Director Michael Rymer and Executive Producers David Eick and Ron Moore

Battlestar Galactica: The Lowdown

Deleted Scenes

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 3 Hours 3 Minutes

Synopsis:
This mini-series originally aired in late 2003. It kicks off the new Sci-Fi Channel TV series that begins in January 2005. The following is from the DVD cover:

“Forty years after the Cylon Wars, humanity’s deadliest enemies have reemerged with a vengeance. In a sudden, devastating nuclear attack, the Cylon robots – who have now taken human form – wipe out billions of people. Only a handful of Colonial forces are left to shepherd the few survivors to safety. Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos), the highest-ranking military officer left alive, reactivates the Battlestar Galactica to once again face humanity’s greatest nemeses.

Outnumbered and outarmed, Adama reluctantly concedes that the newly sworn-in President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is correct – this battle was lost before it had begun. With no choice but to flee, the ragtag fleet of survivors and humanity’s only hope set out in search of the mythic 13th Colony of Kobol’ a legendary planet known as Earth.”

Battlestar Galactica – The Miniseries is not rated.

The Movie:
Despite being a big Star Wars fan, I had a hard time getting into Battlestar Galactica when I was a kid. I liked the ships and the Cylons, but the show often had long boring stretches that I couldn’t get through. So I went into this new Battlestar Galactica with a little hesitation. Fortunately, I ended up enjoying the show quite a bit. Not only that, but I think I’m going to try and follow the new show on TV when it begins airing.

I liked this new mini-series primarily because of the epic scope of the tale. Humanity is on the brink of being wiped out and an outdated battleship is the only hope of shepherding the survivors to a safe planet that may or may not exist. This gives the whole series a sense of desperation that makes every moment very dramatic. All the rules are thrown out the window and anything could go. The only thing you know for certain is that the core characters will survive, but even that is thrown in jeopardy by a twist at the end.

The other thing I liked about the series is that it keeps many of the elements of the first series. The same old silver Cylons are here and they explain it by saying they are old, original models. The same old Viper starfighters are here as well and that ends up being a major plot point of the show. In fact, the antiquated equipment of the Battlestar Galactica ends up being key to their survival. So retaining these older elements and keeping it within the story was a great move in my mind.

There was some controversy about the fact that they made the characters of Boomer and Starbuck into women. Since I didn’t have any real fondness for the original series, it didn’t really bother me at all. However, I found the transformation of Boomer to be irrelevant to the character and I found Katee Sackhoff as the hotshot, arrogant, and cocky Starbuck to be just plain annoying. I simply didn’t like the character. They have also made the Cylons into a few human forms. This seems more like a budgetary concern than anything, but they explain it well enough in the story to make is acceptable to me. Unfortunately this means fewer of the cool new CG Cylons. But I guess if you’re going to have fewer robots, then replacing them with the sexy Tricia Helfer is an acceptable substitute.

The spaceship effects in the show are quite impressive. The ship designs are very cool and the battles are breathtaking. The Vipers shoot what looks like tracer bullets and there are a lot of missiles in the show, something you don’t often see in space fantasies. They also do a mix of real science and fantasy science. The ships operate as if they were in zero gravity, but there’s still sound. The scenes are also shot as if they were done with a shaky documentary camera. If you’re a fan of the Firefly TV series, then you’ll be familiar with this. It’s an interesting effect, but it contrasts quite sharply with nearly static footage shot on the Galactica bridge.

The cast of the show is OK. Jamie Bamber makes a decent Apollo and Grace Park has a lot of personality as Boomer. Tricia Helfer is also stunningly beautiful as Number 6 while her seduction of James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar is well done. But Edward James Olmos really stands out as Cmdr. William Adama. He has the right mixture of friendliness and a hard edge that makes him believable as a revered leader. He also brings a lot of weight to the estrangement between Adama and his son Apollo. Mary McDonnell is also good as Laura Roslin, the woman who has the leadership of the remaining members of her species thrust upon her.

Despite the radical makeover that will make purists cringe, Battlestar Galactica ends up being a good TV mini-series. The combination of colorful characters, intense battle scenes, and cool effects make it required viewing for sci-fi fans.

The Extras:
Here are the highlights of the bonus features:

Feature Commentary with Director Michael Rymer and Executive Producers David Eick and Ron Moore – This commentary is actually pretty good. I’m not sure I’d recommend listening to all 3 hours of it, but there is a lot of info here. They talk about adapting the series, cut scenes, their thoughts behind certain situations and characters, and more. Fans of the new series will probably want to sample it.

Battlestar Galactica: The Lowdown – This 40 minute documentary discusses the new mini series. It’s unique in that is highlights both the original series and the new one. For people that had forgotten the original series, it’s a good refresher. They interview the original cast and even address the controversies straight up. The original Apollo even expresses his opinion that he doesn’t care for the changes. That’s quite a bold thing to include for a “making of” featurette. They even have the new Starbuck and Dirk Benedict, the original Starbuck, get interviewed in a Starbucks. It’s quite funny. The interviews are all very informal. They’re conducted on the street, in parks, in cars, and even in a doctor’s office. There’s even footage of the cast at the San Diego Comic-Con. This is a featurette well worth checking out.

Deleted Scenes – There are a handful of deleted scenes included. There are a couple of big effects sequences included in animatic form. One features Apollo outrunning a Cylon missile over a moon’s surface. It’s quite exciting. There are other scenes showing more of the chief engineer in the hangar and his relationship with his crew. There’s also a brief scene with the new kid that plays Boxie. There is also a scene with Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin having a showdown with her assistant. Most of the scenes don’t have much bearing on the plot and are not missed from the final cut.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a fan of sci-fi, then you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the new Battlestar Galactica. Fans of the original series may be dismayed by the changes, but new fans will probably enjoy it quite a bit.

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