Review: ‘Battlestar Galactica: The Plan’

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Before I begin this review I have to disclose that I’m a huge fan of Ron Moore and David Eick’s re-imagined Battlestar Galactica tv series. From the first moments I saw it I was hooked and I followed the show religiously through its entire run. To this day I regard it as one of the finest shows ever to grace the small screen. In fact, I liked it so much I even got the entire series on Blu-ray. Yes, I’m the one.

So, when it came time to watch and review the latest Battlestar Galactica movie The Plan, I went into it with high expectations but was wondering how they were going to pull off this movie and tell this very well-known story from a completely different perspective: that of the Cylons. Much to my happiness, when I did watch The Plan, I was impressed with the way it turned out and how this rather complex undertaking was handled, with a few notable exceptions.

Before I get too deeply into anything negative, let’s talk a bit more about the story. The Cylons began as humanity’s robot servants. They rebelled and evolved and now they look like us. Their plan is simple: destroy the race that enslaved them. But when their attack fails to wipe out every human, the Cylons have to improvise to finish the job. The Plan tells the story of two powerful Cylon leaders, Cavil (Dean Stockwell) and Six (Tricia Helfer) and their determination to finish that job.

This is accomplished by using existing footage from the tv series and new footage shot specifically for The Plan. These two elements are then woven together pretty well and form a relatively seamless narrative that tells an interesting and compelling story. Why do the Cylons want to destroy all of humanity and what will they do when that’s done? Those are some questions I’ve always wanted answered and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Even though the movie is pretty well put together using the old and new footage, one of my chief complaints about The Plan is that with all the hype surrounding the Cylons and their infamous “plan” from almost the beginning of the tv series, in the end their plan wasn’t all that diabolical or compelling. To me, this was both a negative and a positive. Negative in that with such advanced creatures as the Cylons and with them having such complexity of thought and emotion, their actual motivation for doing what they did seemed somewhat petty and juvenile.

It didn’t seem to have the weight required to carry such a dire set of consequences and to spawn a plan that would lead to the virtual destruction of the entire human race. In one respect, it does make sense given one of the conceits established by the series: that the Cylons have many of the same traits as, or are in fact, angels. So, the fact that the Cylons are angry that God (or in this case, the creators of the Cylon aka the “final five”) love the humans more than they love the Cylons, their jealousy is somewhat understandable. Jealousy can be a powerful emotion but it still seemed a somewhat flimsy motivation to hang a genocide on.

Plus, while the narrative from the Cylon side is interesting and finding our their motivations is something I was always curious about, I didn’t need to see the Cylon perspective from every one of the Cylon models. I was especially uninterested in the perspective of the character Simon (Rick Worthy). His scenes, although perhaps important to help establish that the Cylons feel love, also felt as though they were mostly added to showcase Olmos’ read-life wife, who played Simon’s in The Plan and is unaware her husband is a Cylon. Sadly, although she is attractive and a decent actress, her character and scenes, including one in which Chief Tyrol makes a move on her and a rather unnecessary and graphic sex scene between her and Simon, did virtually nothing to advance the plot or provide insight into the Cylon’s plan.

Moving to the DVD itself, it features a host of bonus items you would expect from a package like this. Some of these include interviews with Edward James Olmos, the key Cylons such as Grace Park, Tricia Helfer and Dean Stockwell, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the colony attack sequence (which is pretty cool) and the requisite deleted scenes.

On the Blu-ray version there’s the uncensored 90-minute movie and bonus features including the new Battlestar Galactica Trivia Game, as well as Universal’s U-CONTROLTM and BD-LiveTM experiene which allows you to go through your Internet-connected player to download more exclusive content, the latest trailers and more. Although, seeing as The Plan is shot in HD but is given a grainy and realistic look, having it in Blu-ray is probably not entirely a necessity. It looks just fine in standard def as well.

Going in I wanted to love The Plan as much as I loved the series and I almost do. In essence my few problems with The Plan are some of the same few problems I had with the series itself. For all of its strengths and its greatness, after all the suffering, trauma, drama and the journey, it really didn’t deliver the bravura ending I was hoping for.

The Plan has a similar problem and a similar ending and although its a great journey and fun to be in this world again, at the end you’re not entirely satisfied. Although, maybe that’s the plan.

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