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Blu-ray Review: Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

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Now on Blu-ray and DVD, and downloadable, is Universal’s Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. Set 10 years into the First Cylon War, after the events of Caprica, and several decades before the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Blood & Chrome follows young William Adama (Luke Pasqualino, The Borgias, Skins) on his very first mission, which goes horribly wrong.

For those BG fans who complain that Caprica isn’t action-packed enough (I am definitely not one of them), Blood & Chrome swings to the opposite extreme, a high-octane thrill ride with simulated battles filling in the gaps where “not enough” is happening in the real world. It’s a dark, at times scary, war story, taken to the front line and behind enemy lines.

Unfortunately, that means there isn’t a lot of time for character development. BG works because of the actors, and the nuance with which they play their dealings with one another. It is as much about politics and religion as interpersonal relationships, and the fights with the Cylons come as secondary. Blood & Chrome moves the latter to center stage, making it fun when you’re watching, but a bit hollow in retrospect. This works well for a web series, which one can tell Blood & Chrome is, edited together now into a not-quite-seamless television movie.

I’ll be honest, I’m torn on Pasqualino as Adama. He is the fourth actor to tackle the role in the official franchise, and I see a bit of the Caprica take in some of his dialogue and mannerisms, when he isn’t being way too cocky. I don’t, however, see the grown up Adama at all. Perhaps that is intended to come later, in the unlikely event this project is pushed forward as a series, but it’s missing here.

Blood & Chrome is sold to us as a potential pilot, but it’s not clear what the series would feel like from this first episode. Rather than setting up the full cast or what the characters will be doing, it follows only three people for a large part of the movie: Adama, his co-pilot Coker (Ben Cotton, Hellcats), who is near the end of his tour of duty, and just wants a calm last few weeks, having lost the fighting spirit, and Dr. Becca Kelly (Lili Bordan, Cherry.), who has a secret mission for them, and claims she can turn the tide of the war. One of those three, I won’t reveal which, wouldn’t even get to continue if the story went on.

For the most part, I enjoy the hour and a half, even if it doesn’t make me miss Battlestar Galactica less. But there are enough hokey missteps, like Adama hooking up with Becca, the creepy half-machine cave worms, and yet another new Cylon soldier, as well as a glimpse at an early attempt of a human-model Cylon (interestingly voiced by Six herself, Tricia Helfer), that prevent this from being quality entertainment. Adam is close enough to revents in Caprica to understand what the Cylons actually are. Why doesn’t that play a role here?

What really kills Blood & Chrome for me is the reuse of BG and Caprica alum as new characters. Cotton only has a bit part in BG: Razor, so that’s not too bad, but most of the rest of the cast, including Adrian Holes, Leo Li Chiang, Mike Dopud, Carmen Moore, Allison Warnyca, Sebastian Spence, Zak Santiago, Colin Corrigan, Jill Teed, Ty Olsson, Brian Markinson, and John Pyper-Ferguson are already present in other stories as different characters, and still recognizable from their previous roles. This really destroys any believability, and is definitely the absolute worst thing about Blood & Chrome.

On the positive side of the chart, for those keeping score, are the special effects. One would swear previous BG sets have just been upgraded, but pretty much this entire movie is green screen, so they’ve actually been digitally re-created. It’s OK that the hanger bay and control room are busier and fuller than in the previous series, because this is Galactica at the height of her service, fully manned and equipped. It all looks so real, if they hadn’t included an intriguing twenty-two minute featurette as an extra, showing how they created the sets, I wouldn’t believe it. I can’t think of another series that has done effects this good.

Which means that Blood & Chrome looks and sounds spectacular in high definition. Much care goes into every detail of the design, and with all the computer work, they are able to make everything super sharp. The colors are mostly of a dark palate, but there is such a broad spectrum represented that one could easily forget that, seeing how rich it looks. The soundtrack is not as sweeping as its predecessors, but again, is flawless.

Blood & Chrome is made by design and programming nerds, and it shows. Story takes a back seat to effects, and the visuals are mind-blowing. It’s an example of what a new BG could look like, and is definitely an argument to bring some incarnation of the show back. Just not this one, because we need the story part of it, too.

Besides the aforementioned featurette, there are about ten or so deleted scenes. That’s it on the extras, sadly.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome is available as a Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy / Ultraviolet combo pack now.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett Barbara Barnett

    They keep trying various things with the BSG universe, which is great. Eventually, we’ll get an entire history.