on 5 May 2010
Battlestar Galactica's desperate crew members were always great recyclers. Short on replacement parts, they kept their aging spaceships humming by reusing whatever bits and pieces of technology they had lying around. That recycling continues in 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan'.
Even after all this time, (having purchased the original American Blu-Ray release last year), I'm still torn over this final Battlestar movie. It's good, but it's not great - it's fun, but it's far from perfect - it's interesting, but at times feels incomplete or leaves you feeling somewhat frustrated in wanting that little bit more exposition or other issues addressed.
But there are some real gems to be found and savoured here if you're prepared to look for them: like the storyline between Cavill and The Boy, which I found particularly rewarding and moving (wonderfully played as ever, by Dean Stockwell), the internal struggle that the Cylon model Simon (Rick Worthy) undergoes, and the tenderness towards his human wife that he retains, is powerful, and sheds new light on this previously mysterious model. There are also wonderful moments with Ellen, Shelley Godfrey and more. There IS much to be savoured here, but maybe like most spreads, it's spread a little too thinly at times and leaves you wanting more.
The real price of admission, however, is two-fold: Firstly, for Dean Stockwell's performance as Brother Cavill. I've always felt he was the most conflicted and complex of all the 'original' models and this film serves as his star turn. He is everywhere - at once a priest on the Galactica, a resistance warrior on New Caprica, scheming on the baseship. It's equally fun watching him boiling with frustration that The Plan isn't coming to fruition, snapping at his fellow Cylons, and every dry, sardonic aside in-between. The second being the masterstroke that is the Cylons devastating attack on Caprica which is truly quite something to behold, coupled with an amazing score from Bear McCreary that really comes into its own during this long scene.
Edward James Olmos directs this movie as only someone so intimately familiar with the material can. Reshot scenes on Caprica and supplements to Galactica footage all fall seamlessly into place, as though rewatching major plot points unfold from the series again in real time - just from the perspective of others - which of course, is the entire point.
Whether you enjoyed it or not, to simply dimiss the hard work and effort that actually went into bringing this all together into a cohesive whole is just plain insulting and dismissive to those involved. It couldn't have been easy to weave the machinations of the Cylon materplan as documented throughout the series (the attack, the human resistance, Cylon activations, etc.) without coming off as disjointed, bloated or just plain gimmicky, for the most part it is handled beautifully.
If anyone is under any illusion that this was some mere hack job, they really need to watch the extras - particularly how the original version of the scene between Ellen and Cavill was to play out, as this only goes to prove how EJO's attention to detail and pacing paid off here in droves - the way it was re-edited into the attack scenes works amazingly well and really ups the ante and the tension.
So...so far, so good. What's not to like? Well, for one - I was very disapointed that there was no real further exposition to the saga of The Olympic Carrier from Season Ones epic '33' (personally, I've always been convinced that the voice that is heard over the Talk Wireless during its reappearance is the 'Simon' model Cylon). It could have been really interesting to have found out what really did happen on that ship when it vanished: were those "thousand some-odd souls" killed? Experimented upon? Airlocked? Did Apollo really end up killing a ship full of innocents? Or were there no passengers left on it at all? For me, I felt like this was such a shame this opportunity was missed to truly tie that up once and for all.
That's my one major gripe. The other is not so much a gripe, more a personal opinion down to taste. The series finale 'Daybreak' served as a wonderful coda for the show, but 'The Plan' somehow seems to dilute and detract from the beauty of that experience. Yes, I too was clamouring for more. But somehow, for all it's good intentions, 'The Plan' just doesn't quite seem to hit the mark it was aiming for. This is not to say it's bad - it's most certainly not, but after watching it, I just felt like I had cheapened my journey somehow with Galactica and her crew.
Those who have not had the pleasure of watching the show and are yet to take that journey, be strongly advised - this will blow pretty much every major plot point for the first 2 seasons out of the water, including some big reveals in the other seasons, so be warned: this is not something you should watch prior to diving into the series.
To summise: One for completists only, and definately something to not rush into so soon after watching the series finale. Give it a few months, then approach it as if it were a special treat you'd stored away for a rainy day.