9 January 2006 | mstomaso
Intense, moody, and dark. Much better than expected.
Those who are used to SciFi's standard fare are likely to be a bit bored by the realism, character development, intelligent dialog, and lack of explosions, mutant organisms and/or poor special effects. This is REAL science fiction, not cheap shock effects strung together with a mediocre plot. Hand-held photography- pioneered in groundbreaking series like ER and Firefly - has started to become cliché. Nevertheless, it works in this film partly because it is not overdone. The shots alternate between a hand-held documentary feel and a more standard dramatic presentation.
I was never a big fan of the original Battlestar Galactica TV show, and I have only seen a few SciFi originals which did not embarrass me on behalf of the entire genre of science fiction (Farscape and both Dune Mini-series being the exceptions). SciFi hypes their productions heavily, and they are almost always disappointingly silly. So, I was not inclined to go into this with an open mind. If anything convinced me to give it a shot, it was the fact that E J Olmos was hired to play Adama and that Mary MacDonnell was on-board. To say the least, I was very pleasantly surprised by the production quality, intelligent script, and the cast. This is more than a reinvention of BSG, it is a vast improvement over the silly cowboy histrionics the first series devolved into.
The story begins just before an invasion of 12 planets colonized by humans. The invading force has infiltrated all of the defense networks by positioning key agents in positions where they can easily exploit vulnerabilities, and has basically disabled all planetary defenses, leaving everybody and everything vulnerable. There is no battle. The few vestiges left of the once thriving human population are those who were fortunate enough to have been in space at the time of the attack. From this dire premise, Battlestar Galactica proceeds.
All considered, this is a film about the human will to survive, redemption and the spirit of hope. Though dark, moody, and as fragmented as life often is, BSG is also driven, suspenseful, and very well written. The cast is as talented as it is visually striking - mixing weird beauty, youthful energy, and hard-edged agedness. None of the actors misstep, and each seems to know their character particularly well. This is an unusual quality for SciFi originals, and shows that the network invested in quality directing talent and worked with reasonable production deadlines (as opposed to rush-jobs).
I strongly recommend this film for serious science fiction fans.