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Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (Blu-ray Review)

16 Feb, 2013 By: John Latchem

Street 2/19/13
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Luke Pasqualino, Ben Cotton, Lili Bordan.

Despite its highly debated ending, I don’t think there’s much disagreement that fans of “Battlestar Galactica” were sorry to see the show sign off after a 2003-09 run that included a miniseries, four seasons and two TV movies.

The series detailed the struggles of a group of humans from a far-off region of space searching for Earth after their robotic creations, the Cylons, turned on them and destroyed their home planets following a prolonged war. The human fleet was commanded by William Adama, played by Edward James Olmos as a gruff war veteran worn down by years of fighting against the machines.

The prequel series “Caprica” in 2010 satiated some of the appetite for new “Galactica,” but it just wasn’t the same. In telling the story of Adama’s family decades earlier and their role in the creation of the Cylons, “Caprica” became a sort of “Dynasty” in space. Technically proficient and well-produced, the show faltered due to meandering storylines and a lack of truly likable characters for the audience to root for. A substantial ratings drop led to a swift cancelation after just one season.

So the announcement that another prequel pilot was on the way was met with guarded optimism. As we learn in the making-of featurettes included with the Blu-ray, Blood & Chrome was designed for release online, and became the pilot for a potential new series when Syfy execs were impressed by the script.

The experience of “Caprica” gave fans reasons to be skeptical, as did the news the project was going forward without one of the guiding influences of “BSG” — executive producer Ronald D. Moore. Still, the production team had good sci-fi pedigree and were all stalwarts of “BSG.” Plus, Blood & Chrome would relay the story of young William Adama and his first experiences fighting the war against the Cylons, returning the franchise to a basic conflict setting that was missing in “Caprica.”

To the chagrin of “BSG” fans expecting a new show, Syfy chose not to option Blood & Chrome to series, but having seen the final product, it’s hard not to understand that decision. While “Galactica” fans will find a lot to enjoy in Blood & Chrome, it just isn’t up to the standards of the parent show.

For one, its DNA as a Web series is obvious in the pacing. Characters are barely introduced before being shipped off on a new adventure. This is fine when intended to be viewed in 10-12 minute installments, but as a 90-minute movie feels frenetic and haphazard in its plotting. There’s little time to get to know the characters, which is a big problem if the idea was to take this to series.

We meet brash Ensign Adama (Luke Pasqualino), who is whisked off to Galactica and ready to volunteer for any mission to fight Cylons. He’s tasked with escorting an engineer to a secret rendezvous, leading to a dangerous mission to an ice planet controlled by Cylons.

As a one-shot adventure exploring the history of the “Galactica” universe, it’s acceptable enough. There’s enough information to serve as a bridge between “Caprica” and “BSG” (despite a few potential hiccups with previously established continuity), and a few winks to the fans. The effects are decent for the low-stakes nature of the production, though the digital backdrops have a bit too much of that CG sheen at times.

The only other extra is a batch of unused footage that is still raw enough to have half-completed effects and greenscreen backdrops. Aside from a few interesting snippets of dialogue, it’s mostly presented simply because it exists. Just like the movie itself, it would seem.

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