"In the Beginning" was filmed after season 4 and tells the story of the Earth-Minbari War. It combines all the stories of the war that we've learned over the first four seasons, from the misunderstanding that started it to the climatic Battle of the Line. But it's not all familiar; we get to see the entire story, not just the parts that were important to later happenings on the show. Along the way, we see Delenn, Sheridan, Franklin, G'Kar, and Londo in the time before the series started.
I hadn't seen this movie since its initial airing until I got the DVD. At that time, I had only seen the last half of season 4, so much of the movie didn't make too big an impact on me. Watching again, I was amazed at how much history and suspense JMS was able to put into the movie even though we knew the outcome. It is interesting to note that it was among the first released from the show since it contains major spoilers for the first few seasons.
It's disappointing to see that once again the features are non-existent. Still, the picture and sound are good.
The Babylon 5 movies were hit and miss, but this is by far the best they made. Any fan will find the complete story fascinating. Everything is explained enough to not confuse new viewers, but if you want to enjoy the mystery of the show, make this later viewing.
The principal characters developed throughout the TV series are introduced here, providing further insight to their character development, and fills in some of the blanks that are suggested in the series itself. Created during B5's season 4 run, it acts as a prequel for those who have followed the story from the beginning.
However, there are two points to note for those wishing to view B5 for the first time. Firstly, Babylon 5: In The Beginning directly provides answers to some questions prompted throughout the TV show, taking away some of the intrigue of the first few seasons. Furthermore, certain characters interact within this prequel, which close viewing of the series suggests never happened; usually if you have met someone before there is some degree of recognition prompted by either party.
The continuity issue can no doubt be explained during a B5 fan discussion, but I would have preferred a more obvious reason for the lack of recognition between two characters in the series. I guess this is a problem with any prequel of this calibre, as Star Wars is also known to have confused viewers in its prequel as to the character interaction that is never suggested in the original trilogy (Read: R2D2 & C3PO interaction with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker).
Babylon 5: In The Beginning is undoubtedly an essential addition to any B5 fans collection. For those that wish to view the saga as originally aired, I suggest viewing it after season 4, so as not to spoil the TV series intriguing build up.
See this film of great acting, great effects and magnificent storyline to see how it all begun.