On Blu-Ray: Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome
The Battlestar Galactica redo for Syfy Channel was one of the most innovative and entertaining science fiction television shows since Firefly and one of the top 3 or 4 of all time. The series finale was fairly divisive and as much as I liked it I admit it was flawed but the overall experience was just outstanding. The series ended and the network was looking at ways to make a buck off the franchise. The shows’ creator Ron Moore had a prequel series in mind and that’s the direction the network decided to go. While Caprica had some interesting elements it was too far from what made the original series great and it just had a lot of trouble finding an anchor for a somewhat convoluted story. The epic failure of Caprica crushed the potential for any other major television endeavors for the foreseeable future.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome was a story that was originally crafted to be a part of a videogame but Syfy Channel appreciated the story enough to option it for a television project. For a while the rumor was that it would be another spin off, then a TV movie, and finally what it became was a limited run web series. The series was released one brief episode a week until the equivalent of a feature length film was on the web. Now the short webisodes have been cut together into a movie and dropped on blu-ray. The movie will also be airing on Syfy Channel.
The film tells the story of a young Adama just entering the military and ready to join the fight against the “toasters” or Cylons. He gets assigned to a Battlestar and right away is given the covert assignment of delivering a woman into the heart of Cylon controlled space. The story that follows is riddled with some predictable but entertaining twists and turns that set the stage for the man that Adama will become when we meet him again as the admiral of the Galactica in the original, or remake, television series. On the show the Galactica was about to be turned into a museum piece but in the film it’s bright and new and ready for action. Since all of the ship was broken down and auctioned off for charity after BSG ended the filmmakers had to recreate locations on the ship with CGI. In fact this web series went the route of Sanctuary and was completely created on green screen with CGI crafted environments.
The film feels like webisodes cut together unfortunately because at the end of each chapter is a dump to black and then the next begins. It’s easy to see this is where the individual episodes were broken up for the web. The result is a film that doesn’t feel cohesive. It just feels like a bunch of webisodes stuck together. For second tier writing and acting though the execution of the story is good. As I said it’s often predictable, which the original series was not, but it remains entertaining. This is a film for fans of the series and newcomers too. There’s not much development of the story here of why the Cylons and humans are fighting so if you don’t already know what the deal is from watching the original series then you won’t learn it here. This has to be one of the first times I’ve ever recommended watching the film/television series before watching its prequel. If you’re already a fan you’ll find entertainment here.
The overall transfer here is good, if good means it comes through looking like the original source material. The film was shot digitally so it lost nothing in the move to blu-ray. Colors are as they were meant to be, black levels are deep, and contrast is consistent. Now none of that means that this film is nice to look at; it just means the transfer of an ugly presentation didn’t get worse with compression. As I mentioned earlier the entirety of this film was crafted with cgi. There are no real sets. This same approach was utilized by the show Sanctuary to great effect. Often Sanctuary came of a little fake looking but it wasn’t distracting or almost painful to look at. The constant lens flare, slightly to terribly out of focus backgrounds, and lack of depth in this presentation are truly painful. I assume the lens flare was used to hide some errors or other issues. At least I hope that’s what it was for. If the true reason for the lens flare use is that “JJ Abrams said it was cool in Star Trek” then I’d be truly pissed off.
Most of the issues I mention are their worst in interior scenes, either in ships or inside buildings. Space battles look pretty good considering the nature of the films’ creation and some scenes in a snowy external climate actually look pretty solid. Overall though, this presentation is just downright ugly.
The DTS HD master track fairs much better than the video. Surround usage is solid throughout the film and dialogue is crisp and clean. The score is well mixed and the LFE is present in explosions. It’s not at all an epic presentation but it works for the film and is actually considerably better than I had expected.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The blu-ray is housed in a standard amaray case along with a DVD version of the film and codes for digital copies. The case art is kind of all over the place but the familiar logo is in plain sight for fans to be able to spot it from across a crowded Best Buy.
There are 13 deleted scenes that are mostly just extended versions of scenes already in the film. If you doubt what I said about he entire film being crafted with cgi take a look at these scenes. Most of them are not complete and you can see just how much green screen is present. Some of these scenes are blu-ray exclusives. There’s nothing that will keep you revisiting these scenes, just filler that was rightfully cut.
Blood and Chrome Visual Effects is a featurette running just under 25 minutes that focuses mostly on the visual fx of the film but it does offer just a little background on how the whole concept came to be. There’s not a lot of depth here but it’s worth a watch.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is a by fans for fans situation. If you haven’t watched any of the series or miniseries from Syfy Channel then this is definitely not the place to start. If you’re a fan looking for just a little more from this universe then this is worth a buy.
Overall (Not an average) 6.5/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 4/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10