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Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome(TV) (2012)
The adventures of young William Adama in the First Cylon War.
For more about Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome and the Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray release, see Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Luke Pasqualino, Ben Cotton, Jill Teed, Lili Bordán, John Pyper-Ferguson
» See full cast & crew
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray Review
What's old is new! Yet somehow feels so old... but looks so new. Bear with me, it's confusing.
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 4, 2013
Blood & Chrome isn't the first time Battlestar Galactica has given fans a glimpse at the First Cylon War, or even the first time the series reboot has trained its crosshairs on a young William Adama. Lest ye forget, in October and November of 2007, executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick unleashed a string of weekly Razor Flashbacks webisodes; together a seven-part prequel within a prequel (to Razor, which detailed what the crewman of the Battlestar Pegasus were up to before the Cylons' initial attack on the Twelve Colonies). As a prequel or as edited into the extended home video release of the movie itself, the Flashbacks stole the show and offered a well-cast, smartly penned preview of what a successful BSG series starring a young Adama might look like. Fast forward to 2013 and the highly anticipated release of Blood & Chrome, a series pilot that should have worked; that should have given us the next great entry in the BSG universe. Instead, B&C reveals itself to be a less-than-stimulating version of what could have been. Though most certainly a visually striking action spectacle that deploys scope-and-scale-bolstering CG to the series' benefit, the new movie falls short of Moore and Eick's 2007 webisodes where it counts: casting, performances and scripting. Worse, you don't even have to be familiar with the Razor Flashbacks to feel the profound sense of disappointment that begins to settle in long before Blood & Chrome reaches its wobbly, semi-climactic endgame.
Expectations surrounding the Blood & Chrome debut were obviously high, and varied dramatically from fan to fan. Some were ecstatic at the prospect of following William Adama through his formative Colonial Fleet years, watching as the once and future Admiral Adama came into his own and became the kind of soldier who could lead a remnant of humanity to their salvation. Others were excited at the idea of an action-oriented, CG-laden BSG and the potential departure from the more cerebral trappings of the series proper. Less social commentary, more 'splosions. Still others were confident Blood & Chrome wouldn't just be a Cylon War shoot-em-up, delivering the same intelligent sci-fi Moore and Eick's reimagining did for four critically acclaimed seasons. And yet somehow, all of these expectations shot even higher after it was announced the pilot was being put out to pasture, and plans for a new show along with it. Surely the powers that be are out of their minds! A new BSG series is a sure thing! The decision to shut the series down couldn't possibly trace back to a faulty pilot built on a shaky foundation!
Blood & Chrome gets off to a strong start, despite Luke Pasqualino's miscasting as a cliché hotshot pilot who a) looks nothing like Adama, b) sounds nothing like Adama, c) behaves nothing like Adama, and d) reacts nothing like Adama. Would an ongoing series have brought Pasqualino more in line with Edward James Olmos? Perhaps. A dose of tragedy here, a lesson in humility there. But the seeds simply aren't in place. Pasqualino could literally be a different character entirely and it wouldn't strengthen or weaken the film whatsoever; the role of Adama is that thinly sketched and inconsequential. That leaves us with Top Gun by way of the BSG universe, and the story that unfolds is more an exercise in running through the action-packed prequel motions (with an inevitable twist!) than a legitimate reorientation on the First Cylon War or the through-the-ranks rise of William Adama. The action dominates -- to the point of being distracting -- and a contrived romantic subplot is meant to be earth-shaking when it's as rote and routine as the snowbound base defense that brings the movie to a bit of a dull close. (And don't get me started on the enormous plot hole that opens up in those final minutes. I'll spare you the major spoiler points and instead offer as mild a spoiler as I can muster: Adama thwarts a villain's plans, yet somehow doesn't, yet does, and... gets a pat on the head from high command since allowing those sinister plans to come to fruition was all a part of the grand scheme of things. I've watched it three times. It still doesn't make sense.)
The script is chock full o' convention too, and it extends beyond the hotshot pilot and the hard-left romance. The software engineer with shady motives (Lili Bordán), the brash injury-prone co-pilot and fated BFF (Ben Cotton), the selfless commander (Jill Teed) willing to sacrifice an entire Battlestar so a Raptor can make it planetside, the old friend, presumed dead, who learns he has a bouncing baby waiting at home (Sebastian Spence), the stranded survivor gone mad (John Pyper-Ferguson), the ghost fleet, the suicide mission, the last stand, the traitor, the true nature of the mission revealed, the last-second surprise cameo... on and on and on. It works for a time, with narrow misses and thrilling space battles -- Battlestar action at its best -- and the CG hangars, backgrounds and set pieces make it all bigger, badder and flashier than ever before. But once the luster fades, once the sights and sounds settle in for the long haul, once it becomes clear the VFX artists are cranking everything up two notches too high, Eick and Michael Taylor's script is left to fend for itself and fails on numerous counts. (Dialogue chief among them.) And while the space battles, dogfights and iconic BSG score riffs are terrific, the land-locked action, clunky shoot outs and meat-vs-toaster fist fights are over the top and unconvincing. There's plenty of Battlestar brawn, just very little in the way of Battlestar brains.
All that being said (or vented rather), I still had a good time barreling through Blood & Chrome, enjoying everything it gets right and working to ignore everything it gets wrong. (Were it a collection of videogame cutscenes from a white-knuckle shooter, I'd be enamored.) There's disappointment to be had, but the real disappointment is that Moore, Eick and company have yet to create a viable BSG spin-off, or come up with something as uniquely engaging as their 2003 miniseries and subsequent 2004-09 television series. The elements are there, the characters and mythos are begging for a prequel, and there's plenty of planets and deep stretches of space to explore in the Battlestar universe, making the glaring absence of a successful sister series that much more baffling. Maybe one day Moore and Eick will return with something worth watching. For now, we're left with Blood & Chrome: a solid web series, yes, but ultimately a problematic TV pilot with no real future in sight.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray, Video Quality
Most of the issues that bring Blood & Chrome's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation down a notch are inherent to the source. Uneven grain and noise (a trademark of the BSG series proper), a few mangled CG elements (a handful of shots almost look unfinished), aliasing where CG seams have been left a bit raw (another side effect of the movie's truncated production timetable), a computer overlay that's so clean and shiny it feels completely out of place (as if someone forgot to add in the aforementioned grain and noise) and seemingly random eyesores pop up from time to time. Other issues are a bit more suspect. Slight macroblocking, intermittent banding, occasionally muted black levels and various negligible oddities don't exactly line up with CG effects or Moore and Eick's patented BSG aesthetics. It's difficult to differentiate between the two, though, making for a tricky video evaluation. Fortunately, the good far outweighs the not-so-good. Colors are bold, skintones are nicely saturated, primaries pop, contrast is on point, black levels are generally deep and satisfying, and detail is quite striking, particularly when it comes to suitably lit midrange shots and closeups, fighter dogfights and cruiser showdowns, and other action highlights. Wider shots that show off the hangars, Viper bays, space battles and other set pieces look great as well, and most of the scenes boast reasonably well-integrated live-action elements and CG backgrounds and enhancements. The high definition image only makes it look that much better, even if those who've long lamented the intended grit and grain of BSG will still have plenty to complain about. All in all, a fine presentation free of debilitating issues.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is thankfully more refined, with hard-hitting LFE output and blistering rear speaker activity, all of which does more to bring Blood & Chrome to life than the video presentation or the whole of the movie itself. Dialogue is clean and clear, barring a small selection of misprioritized lines that got buried beneath the action (none crucial, so far as I could tell). The soundfield is quite immersive too, albeit not consistently so. Vipers and Raiders rocket past and swoop round the listener. Missiles whiz from channel to channel. Explosions rock the ground and echo across the room. Winds howl, ships collide, nukes thoom and bloom, toasters clank and clomp down narrow corridors, gunfire fills the air, Bear McCreary's percussion-laced score erupts with power and precision, and the entire sonic experience is an engrossing one. Granted, directionality isn't as exacting as it is in the main series, and the movie's sound design isn't as nuanced. Still, Blood & Chrome doesn't sound like a failed pilot or a series originally released, episode by episode, on the web; it sounds like a full-fledged series launch, and an action-packed, pulse-pounding one at that.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Blood & Chrome obviously failed to impress the powers that be, and I suspect it will fail to impress the majority of the BSG fanbase. It has its share of thrills and standout sequences, each loaded with potential, but time and time again it all falls short of greatness, drifting too far from the safety of the Battlestar fleet into the outer reaches of videogame-y space. Of course, a better script, a more convincing Adama and more interesting characters would have gone a long, long way. Blood & Chrome's Blu-ray release is more rewarding, with a faithful video presentation, a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and an hour of HD extras. All things considered, it isn't going to satiate the BSG appetite most of us share, but it's a decent enough snack. Hopefully, Eick and his cohorts can put together something more filling in the future. Perhaps something capable of luring Moore back to the table...
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Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway - Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome - February 20, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering five members an opportunity to win a copy of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. The new BSG spin-off stars Luke Pasqualinoas as a young Captain William Adama fighting in the First Cylon War, and ...
• Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray - November 9, 2012
Universal Studios Home Entertainment is bringing the long-awaited Battlestar Galactica spin-off film, Blood & Chrome, to Blu-ray early next year. The first of the film's ten chapters premieres this weekend on Machinima's YouTube channel, Machinima Prime, to be ...
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