Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray Review
PictureBattlestar Galactica: The Plan comes to UK Region Free Blu-ray with a solid if unexceptional 1080p High Definition rendition in the extended feature's original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The video offering does exactly what the Director intended - blends old with the new as best as possible. The integration of footage that is now a few years old, made on a lesser budget and obviously designed to be gritty and dark, is quite difficult. And it can still be discerned from the new stuff, but with a little bit of added grain and intentional desaturation, the results are fairly effective nonetheless.
Detail is generally good, far better than when I first picked up the pilot on SD-DVD, and the picture has been cleaned up a fair amount, even if it does not seem as sharp as it should be. As aforementioned, the grain is clearly intentional, but it will still be quite obtrusive if you don't like such heavy-handed use of grain. The colour scheme has been drained somewhat, again on purpose, but that does not mean that there are no scenes of extremely vibrant greens, blues or explosive fiery yellows and oranges. Blacks remain solid throughout, which is a good plus point for the darker, more moody sequences.
Overall the new footage looks better, has a more 'perfect' quality to it - as you would expect from HD - but it has still been processed substantially in order to allow the two types of material to be blended relatively fluidly. Fans should understand that this was exactly what the Director and Producers wanted and realise that they were never likely to get a glossy big budget movie to add to their collection (and anyway, it would not have really fit in to the rest of the series very well had that been the result).
SoundThis addendum to the BSG series comes with the same kind of quality DTS-HD Master Audio track that has adorned all of the High Definition BSG releases thus far. Sure, this is not Blockbuster movie material, but it still makes for a punchy soundtrack. Dialogue is presented clearly and coherently from across the fronts and centre channels. The effects are well-observed and largely atmospherics-based, creating a suitable environment for the dark machinations that pervade the story. Obviously things kick off with a massive bang, and all of the few (but nonetheless spectacular) explosive sequences certainly get presented well, bringing the surrounds to life and rocking your living room. The score is classically styled in traditional BSG fashion, although it does dip into some of the more adventurous arenas explored during the show's original run, including that terrible, again incongruous, 80s Pink Floyd-esque period. Nevertheless the Blu-ray release presents it all well and fans will unlikely be disappointed.
ExtrasTop on the list is a Full-length Audio Commentary by the Director Edward James Olmos (who also gets a little screen-time as Adama) and the Executive Producer/Writer Jane Espenson. Olmos comes across as an extremely likeable and genuinely humble guy, often praising his cast and crew, and never really acting like the know-it-all that some Directors come across as being. Espenson seems a little more full of herself, and between the two they do try and convince that this feature-length offering will totally change the way fans will view the series when they revisit it, but that is not wholly unexpected. They discuss the original ideas, the work done to change the script, scenes and story before, during and even after shooting, the budgetary restrictions and the end result. I would have at least liked a hint that there were more of these TV-movies to come but since that seems unlikely, I'm not surprised that there are no rumour here. Worth picking up and putting down in disgestable segments.
We get 14 minutes' worth of Deleted Scenes in a choppy montage that gives us more from the Caprica rebels, some extended Cavil moments, and more of Boomer questioning her actions and her love for the Chief. Some of the effects have not been completed, which makes them somewhat less involving, and overall I'm glad they left most of this out. That said, a couple of Cavil moments (particularly more of his alternate self on Caprica, trying to offer a peaceable treaty with the Cylons) could have perhaps been integrated back in. Fans will probably find it worth sitting through these mildly engaging additions.
From Admiral to Director: Edward James Olmos & The Plan offers us a 7 minute Featurette on Olmos, who discusses, in what is effectively an extended interview, many aspects of the production, and the BSG universe as a whole. He talks about how he misses the show, and how it was so good that it could have gone on far longer, he discusses working on the other side of the camera, and he offers up his opinion that 'The Plan' will compel fans to revisit the entire show from start to finish and view it as an all-new journey. Some of the cast members pop up and talk about working with Olmos, including Stockwell, Rick Worthy (the Doctor Cylon who gets a much better backstory here than he ever did in the show proper), the stunning Tricia Helfer, and Boomer's Grace Park.
The Cylons of The Plan takes a further 7 minutes to go through the main Cylons involved in this story, again with all the key players on board to contribute soundbites about the production. Each one of them discusses the attempt to open up the backstory that took place during the first two seasons, and - most honestly and humorously - Stockwell talks about having to take centre stage across this feature-length offering. There is no information offered here that you would not have gleamed from just watching the main feature, but it is still nice to hear some of the character comments, all the while interspliced with behind the scenes footage of a variety of scenes being filmed.
The Cylon Attack takes just 4 minutes to look at one of the scenes from the film. No, this is not a look at the massive opening scene, but instead a look at the rebels attacking a Cylon supply outpost. Anders gets the fronts stage and narrates this brief and rather vacuous offering, which only has some very brief moments of interest or engaging trivia.
Visual Effects: The Magic Behind 'The Plan' is the longest and most substantial of the Featurette-based offerings, and has the effects crew offering up interesting backdrop into how they brought the Colonies to life (and subsequently destroyed them) in this production. They talk about how much of it was left to the imagination of the effects guys (and was not explicitly scripted), the process of conceptual art, pre-visualisation and so forth, and the end result they achieved. In the end, despite being the most comprehensive extra (Commentary notwithstanding), it can get a little tiresome to hear endlessly from these effects geeks. They clearly know their art, but seeing it evolve is perhaps more interesting than listening to them talk about how they came up with the ideas.
VerdictBattlestar Galactica: The Plan goes back to the beginning of this modern classic sci-fi TV show and tells a parallel story to the events seen in the first two seasons, only from the perspective of the hidden Cylons who intend to follow through the unfinished plan to eradicate mankind. It largely follows Dean Stockwell's mischievous Cavil, who controls the events like some evil puppetmaster, and this is one of the feature-length offering's strong points. It also offers a never before seen look at the devastating Cylon attack on the colonies. Unfortunately, when all is said and done, this is very much an addendum to the Galactica franchise, an afterthought which fills in a few holes that the writers may not have initially thought through the first time round. I'm sure many will just love to have more Galactica, whatever form it comes in, but the mish-mash of old-and-new stuff intercut abruptly to cover in two hours what took the show two seasons, does occasionally feel like little more than a Deleted Scenes Compendium. And with no major revelations or plot twists, and no particularly satisfactory conclusion, you are left wondering whether this is really the last taste you want in your mouth after digesting the marvel that was Battlestar Galactica.
On Blu-ray we get decent enough video and audio and a healthy selection of extras to boot, so fans of the feature-length offering should not hesitate in picking up this Region Free UK release. Fans of the show who have not yet seen it should be prepared for the fact that it may not be the eye-opener that it is somewhat touted as, and may want to consider a rental as this is certainly not a required addition to your BSG collection (unlike Razor). Newcomers to BSG shouldn't even be reading this, they should go out and buy the entire boxset and watch the glory that was one of the best sci-fi shows to ever grace our screens.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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