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DVD Review: ‘Battlestar Galactica: The Plan’
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Battlestar Galactica: The Plan DVDBattlestar Galactica: The Plan
Director: Edward James Olmos
Starring: Dean Stockwell, Rick Worthy, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Edward James Olmos, Michael Trucco, Kate Vernon, Callum Keith Rennie, Aaron Douglas, Michael Hogan, Rekha Sharma, Katee Sackhoff, James Callis
Universal Studios
Release Date: October 27, 2009

I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays. I want to hear x-rays, and I want to smell dark matter. I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws and feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me. I’m a machine, and I could know much more.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is the third prequel movie that has been made within the realms of the brilliant Ronald D. Moore and David Eick re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. The others were Razor and Caprica (which is more of a spinoff and setup for its own new series set to begin in 2010), and they offer us a deeper look into the many stories that we never saw as we journeyed through the wonderful five-season run. While Razor concentrated on another Battlestar ship and added many details to one of the stories we briefly saw in the series, The Plan is a unique and even odd kind of animal that takes us to many different points from the show.

To be completely honest, there’s not really a firm story here, but more of a completely alternative perspective to the intense and familiar events of the series. Do not think that that means that there is no story at all, though — there certainly is, and the more you think about the new things that you see within the film, the more you related them to the overall story, and this is where this movie really works well. The Plan actually plays out almost like the deleted scenes in your DVD special features section, which is kind of strange, but again, unique in its own little way.

The Plan is centered around two versions of Cylon model #1, known as F. Cavil & C. Cavil (Dean Stockwell). We saw plenty of him in the series, but this entire movie is all about him being the one who hatched and unleashed the attacks on humanity, and his unflinching efforts to wipe out the human species that still survives; all while a second model of him sees something in humanity and decides killing them might not have been the right thing to do.

We begin two weeks before the Cylon attacks on the Twelve Colonies, where the two models of Cavil are talking about the upcoming attack while the “Five” encircle them, laying in those tubs of resurrection goo. Each of the five is shown going about their own business on the fateful day, and eventually we get to see attacks from different perspectives, including the missiles used and the many explosions from outside of the atmosphere. This devastating introduction wasn’t quite devastating enough for the evil and determined F. Cavil — when he realizes that a small number of humans survived, he becomes furious. This is an indication of things to come as numerous important events from the show come up and we see how he slithered and maneuvered his way in and around the remaining humans and used his still-secret Cylon models to try and kill off the rest of them. Most important of them is the way he was able to control and direct Boomer (Grace Park) on Galactica without her becoming completely aware of her being a Cylon; and his two failed suicide bombings — one of which was on Galactica by a #5 (Matthew Bennett), and the other by a #4 named Simon (Rick Worthy) that was to blow up an entire civilian ship that held his human wife and daughter. The Cylon we know as Simon is another one that we saw plenty of in the series but was really well-used in this movie, especially the surprise that he himself had a wife and child (though it wasn’t specified if his daughter was another hybrid). While this is going on, the storyline of C. Cavil is also going on and shows how he infiltrated Anders’ (Michael Trucco) group of survivors and tried to turn them on Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) before coming to realize that humans could be special after all.

What’s really fantastic in this movie is the inner struggles of the Cylons. When the show first began, we were perfectly aware that this machine species was completely merciless, and that they would happily kill any human man, woman, or child with a smile on their face in order to obtain complete control of the world as the prime civilization, but this is simply not the case at all. As the movie moves on, you see Simon with his family, you see a #6 (Tricia Helfer) who has realized their faults and their plans to offer the truce, and you hear Boomer talk about how much she prefers the feeling of being human. These machines struggle with the concept of destroying these living beings while F. Cavil is left trying to calm them and talk sense into them so he can keep the plan moving forward.

One problem with Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, is the way that it flows. You absolutely have to go in not expecting the amazing stories that we got from the show, but again, an alternative perspective of those stories. As I said before, the more you think about it, the more it fuses itself to the mythology. It’s tricky here, however, because they show one scene and then jump up to another point in time (4 days after the attack, 27 days after the attack, 232 days after the attack) and there is no transition or format; you just have to hang on tight and take it all in. This film is all about jumping (which is fitting to the show) to certain points so you can see mainly how the two Cavils unraveled his plan, how the various models assisted or interfered, and who or what was involved in certain memorable instances that we were not shown to us before.

Actor Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) directed this movie after directing four episodes of the show, including one of the tense final episodes entitled “Island in a Stream of Stars”. Before it came out, he was quoted as saying “When Battlestar fans see The Plan, they’re all going to have to go back and watch the entire series again.” Having now seen it, I can say without doubt that this is true. Being someone who doesn’t own any of the show, I now find myself more tempted than ever to go get it with all of this new knowledge of the behind-the-curtains workings of the Cylons’ master plan.

Even with the trouble it has moving as a story, fans of BSG will easily get their money’s worth with here. Die hard fans will likely watch the movie multiple times (I know I already want to watch it again to see what else I catch and learn) trying to find hidden gems and explanations to things we might now know the answer to, and maybe even spend hours going frame-by-frame. There’s even an awesome new remix to the show’s title theme song that plays on the menu and in-full at the end credits.

Those who aren’t very big into the show or are just casual fans of science fiction should probably steer clear, as they will have no idea what’s going on…seriously. Although if this is you, I strongly suggest getting into the show and watch the whole thing if you have not. It’s very much worth your time.

The big question now? Is this the last of the Battlestar Galactica we know and love? Obviously the end of the show was the real heartbreaker for fans, but just knowing ANY kind of prequel or story that we haven’t seen with this cast is coming is exciting, and after The Plan is released on October 27, there are no others in the works. Yes, Caprica got underway with their movie and is set to debut soon, but that obviously won’t be the same. Keep in mind, Edward James Olmos did promise that if 350,000 to 500,000 copies of the movie sold in the first day, we would see “many more plans,” (Read: Could Big Numbers For ‘The Plan’ Mean More ‘Battlestar Galactica’?) so get out there and pick a copy of this up this Tuesday!

SPECIAL FEATURES

There’s not a ton of extra features here. You’ll have the typical commentary options, deleted scenes, and some previews, but there are a couple of interesting featurettes to check out!

I suggest watching the deleted scenes for one particular scene that shows how badly some Cylons wanted to regain peace and stop the fighting, and how it went horribly wrong.

From Admiral to Director: Edward James Olmos & The Plan A short feature that looks at Olmos working behind the camera and his methods. A fun video to watch, but all it really did is make me sad, and wish that the show wasn’t over anymore. Let’s face it: we were happy when they decided to close it up with a completed story instead of running it into the ground, but now you kinda wish they went as long as they could go…until someone else told them to stop.

The Cylons of The Plan Another short feature looking at the Cylons from BSG and The Plan, as well as interviews with the actors who play them who talk about their roles and how the Cylons might not all be as horrible as we once thought.

The Cylon Attack — You might be lead to believe that this looks at the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies, but in fact, it’s about a scene from the movie in which Anders and his group first get a look at the machine and attempt to fight back. It’s a cool feature showing some of the effects used and what’s called “the biggest explosion ever done on BSG.”

Visual Effects: The Magic Behind The Plan This is the biggest of all of the special features. It looks at all of the behind the scenes stuff, especially the special effects work. It includes interviews with a bunch of effects workers who talk about their role and how they take certain completed shots and add more to it, or introduce more layers and textures to bring that realism to the table.

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