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Blu-ray Review: Battlestar Galactica – The Plan

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"The Cylons were created by man.  They rebelled.  They evolved.  They look and feel human.  Some are programmed to think they are human.  There are many copies.  And they have… a plan." 

So the audience of Battlestar Galactica was repeatedly told – they Cylons have, strike that, had, a plan.  That plan, that masterstroke of genius, was to destroy the 12 Colonies and all have humanity along with them .  As we all know however, Commander — later, Admiral — Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the fleet he managed to create and hold together working alongside President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) helped foil the Cylons' plan.  But, what exactly was the Cylons' plan, what were the specifics of it and how did they adapt once their instantaneous victory was not assured?  What did they hope to achieve from destroying humanity?  To answer those questions, fans have now been given a look at the Cylons' side of story with Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.

Directed by Olmos, The Plan centers itself on two Cavils, or Cylon One models  (Dean Stockwell).  The audience gets to watch them from a few days prior to the Cylon attack on the Colonies until, roughly, the settling of New Caprica.  It is through the eyes of the two Cavils, who both start with the same mindset and due to what happens after the attack and where they end up (one with the fleet and one on Caprica), grow to have very divergent opinions about the appropriateness of their actions.

The film expertly recounts several moments we've already seen in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, giving us other viewpoints, thereby broadening the picture that has already been established.  The Plan shows the destruction of the Colonies to a far greater extent than it has been seen before, the operations of the rebels on Caprica and the establishing of Sam Anders as their leader, and shows that attacks from Cylons hidden within the fleet were all orchestrated.

The Plan is a fascinating look at the other side and a great examination of what humanity's strongest enemy was after and why.  As with the series that The Plan is an outgrowth of, the film spends a lot of time in philosophical discussion, bringing up and examining issues from multiple points of view. 

Though the film is mostly new footage, Olmos does insert footage used during episodes of the series.  These moments do work well, even if some of the actors do look moderately different now than they did during the early seasons (most notably Aaron Douglas who plays Chief Tyrol). 

It is clear that very conscious and deliberate choices have been made about exactly what to show from the series and what to avoid showing.  And, though fans of the series may be upset that Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber (to name two series cast members) only appears in old footage and Mary McDonnell not at all, as we have already seen their characters' actions at these moments, the characters can almost be sensed behind the scenes.  Their inclusion may have been nice (as it would have been for us to revisit all the old faces from the show), but would have required the establishment of greater story arcs for them and may have made The Plan unwieldy.

The Blu-ray release contains several bonus features, including a featurette on Olmos as director, a discussion of the Cylons who appear in the film, deleted scenes, a look at the special effects, and a poorly titled featurette called "The Cylon Attack."  While one might believe that this is a behind-the scenes look at the Cylon attack on the 12 Colonies, it is actually a look at an attack by the Caprica rebels on the Cylons.

The technical aspects of the release are decent, but certainly not spectacular.  The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is full of vim, vigor, and spectacular explosions, but the video quality is less good.  It is clear that the grainy look given to the film is purposeful, aiding to the almost documentary-esque look that the audience has come to expect from the series, but there are several scenes aboard Galactica where there is a vague flickering of light in the background, and that does seem wholly unintentional.  As for the CGI, while no one will mistake the shots of the Colonies or fleet for reality, they do look very good.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is not a standalone project and it is hard to conceive that anyone who did not watch the series will be satisfied by it – but it is equally hard to conceive that they would be interested in it to begin with.  As a companion piece, The Plan works exceedingly well, containing enough overt and subtle references to the series to make one truly want to go back and rewatch the show (something Olmos suggests will occur in a featurette).  It also makes one wish that Ronald D. Moore, David Eick and the entire cast and crew of Battlestar Galactica  will come up with a few more angles for us all to see the series from.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Michael

    Josh, trying to find your e-mail address here but cannot. I, too, have noticed the horrible flickering in the picture of THE PLAN. Many other reviews, strangely enough, haven’t mentioned it. Do you have a U.S. copy of this or a Canadian copy? I wonder if that makes any difference and if this title had some faulty copies or is it in the master?

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    I wasn’t sure that they differentiated US vs. Canada, but I’m certainly in the US so assume that if there is a difference I have the US version.

  • Michael

    Found out that apparently the problem is a player/display combination. Some combinations, when displaying at anything higher than 780p, with the 1080p 24hz turned on, and with too bright a backlight, cause the flicker in certain DVDs. THE PLAN as well as the COMPLETE SERIES of BSG are like this. (Seasons 1 and 2 apparently don’t have this problem, though I haven’t watched them yet to be sure.)

  • Michael

    Forgot to add that I changed these settings and though I can still see the flicker a tiny bit, it’s nowhere near as annoying. I’d be interested if that changes things for you, too.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    I haven’t had the chance to try this out yet, but it’s definitely on my to-do list. I’d be curious to know what actually causes the issue though.