Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on BSG's "The Plan"

After watching the DVD release of the Battlestar Galactica movie "The Plan," there are only two conclusions you can come to about its worthiness for viewing:
  1. If you're a fan of the show (even one disappointed by the finale), you'll probably love the "The Plan."
  2. If you're not a fan of the show, and are looking for a stand-alone BSG experience, you won't have a clue what's going on and it will leave you scratching your head wondering what all Peabody-winning, Top 10 List fuss was about.
Much like BSG's other foray into supplemental moviedom ("Razor"), "The Plan" constructs its narrative out of out of gaps in the four season run of the seminal show. Where "Razor" gave us an entirely new character as an audience POV, Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Jacobsen in a breakout performance), "The Plan" centers mainly on the motivations and actions of the Cylon Cavil from before the attack on the colonies, up through the time the Cavils were discovered by the fleet to actually be Cylons and airlocked. (Man, how I've missed frequently using the word "airlock"). Dean Stockwell, as expected, is captivating as the various Cavils, showing different flavors to his malevolence as his incarnations scheme to cleanse the universe of the human pestilence. There's also nice work here from Rick Worthy, who plays the Cylon Simon/Number Four, seen only occasionally during the run of the series. He gets some nice moments to play as one version of Four is with the fleet, and has established a relationship with a human woman and her child, while yet another is on Caprica with Anders and his team of Pyramid playing resistance fighters. (Sadly, we don't get much insight to his version of Four that was working on "the farm," nor does the movie provide any insight to the reasons behind the ovary harvesting taking place there). Though we do see some of the other Cylons behind the scenes (mostly via pick ups from the show), only Tricia Helfer also gets some significant new material to play as Number Six (her gum chewing, trashy version of Six is particularly inspired and funny).

So does "The Plan" really reveal anything monumental and heretofore unknown about the motivations and mechanics of the master Cylon plot? Not really. But for fans of the show, it's an engaging and interesting look at the Cylon's struggle with their nature and the ramifications of their decision to wipe out the human race.

  • The special effects here are breathtaking. We get some gorgeous shots of various colonial planets before the fall, and during the robot holocaust. Also, the scenes of the basestars mounting their attack are stunning, and on par with anything you'll see in a huge budget theatrical release. Plus, lots of toasters!
  • Edward James Olmos is the director here, and he does a terrific job. There are some significant action scenes that are well handled, but he also demonstrates a knack for effectively showcasing his very able cast in the quieter moments. He also deserves a big "attaboy" for seamlessly blending the old footage from the show (in tone, look and feel) with the new material filmed for "The Plan," often combining the two for a more revelatory expansion of a critical moment we've seen before.
  • Jane Espenson's script fills in the details nicely, giving us resonant character beats, particularly from Cavil and Four. And of course, as Espenson usually does, she bring the funny (which was often missing from BSG over the course of its run). Cavil has always had a prominent snark subroutine, and "The Plan" is no exception ("Let's get this genocide started!"). His interactions with the other Cylons in the fleet are priceless, and Helfer's new "slutty Six" also gets some choice bon mots. (Worth noting is that when Helfer started with BSG, she was a former model with little acting experience, but it's amazing how she grew with the show and has consistently displayed some serious acting chops. Her handling of the difficult material, and showing different shades within a single model of Six AND across multiple models of the most multidimensional Cylon, is very impressive).
  • Bear McCreary's score is, as always, stellar.
  • Here's a tiny easter egg for you, that should delight fans of the original series:
Go to the extras menu
Highlight the Admiral to Director featurette
Now navigate to the right with your remote
You should see the BSG Seal appear – hit enter

Given how "The Plan" is so intricately woven into the fabric of the series, I'd give it an A- for fans of the show, and a C- for noobs. It doesn't answer all the lingering questions (but really, did anyone think it would?), but it's sure as hell entertaining, and makes me want to break out my series DVDs all over again. So Say We All.

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