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Battlestar Galactica: The Plan(2009)
Deep in the universe, cybernetic Cylons have all but wiped out the human race, laying waste to the Twelve Colonies of Man. Cast out, the few survivors aboard the Battlestar Galactica search for a so-called 13th colony: the mythical planet Earth.
For more about Battlestar Galactica: The Plan and the Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray release, see Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 19, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Edward James Olmos, Dean Stockwell, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Michael Hogan, Callum Keith Rennie
Director: Edward James Olmos
» See full cast & crew
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray Review
Series spoilers abound in this intriguing Olmos-helmed film...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 19, 2009
I am, without a doubt, a tried and true Battlestar Galactica addict and apologist. But I'm also quick to admit that series creator Ron Moore and his talented writers failed to tie up a few loose ends ("plot holes" to the cantankerous critics among you) in the four-season arc of their acclaimed, genre-defying television masterpiece. Personally, I viewed each of these unsolved mysteries as collateral damage in one of the most inventive, unpredictable series I've ever had the pleasure of watching, but I know there are those out there who need to know every last detail. To that end comes The Plan, an unexpectedly subtle powerhouse that focuses on the Cylons and their efforts to eradicate humanity. Integrating scenes from the miniseries and the first two seasons, writer Jane Espenson and director Edward James Olmos systematically eliminate a variety of plot holes, weave an engrossing tale of love and loss, and provide a fresh perspective on BSG's devious skinjobs. Is it the jaw-dropper Olmos and company have been promising since the series finale? A redefining stunner sure to send fans scrambling back through all four seasons of the show? Not quite. It's simply another strong story in a long line of strong stories that have allowed Battlestar Galactica to emerge as one of the finest television series of the still-young 21st century.
After attempting to write three plot synopses for The Plan, I've come to a single conclusion: it's impossible to discuss even the most basic aspects of its story without revealing a slew of secrets from the series proper (in other words, don't go anywhere near this one unless you've watched all four seasons of the show). Suffice to say, the film explores the twisted tale of the first humanoid model Cylon, John Cavil (Dean Stockwell), and the reasons he and his brethren decided to eliminate the human race. Though almost every major BSG character makes an appearance to some degree -- Mary McDonnell's President Roslin is the lone exception, but her absence, while strange, is ultimately inconsequential -- this is, from the first attack on the Colonies to the final philosophical debate between a pair of Ones, Stockwell's film through and through. Likewise, while Baltar and his flesh-n-blood lot pop up from time to time (mainly in clips culled from the series' first two seasons), the other humanoid Cylons are The Plan's key secondary players. The focus on the machines is a welcome move that accomplishes a lot in very little time. The whereabouts of the Final Five is justified, the reason they're in the dark is revealed, Boomer's (Grace Park) sleeper state is explored, and the root of the human/Cylon conflict is dissected to near-Shakespearean, dare I say, Biblical lengths.
Cavil is presented as a Machiavellian mastermind; a Lucifer-like creation whose ascension to, and challenge of, the gods (or God, as Tricia Helfer's Six would emphatically declare) is as maniacal as it is tragic. His manipulation of everyone and everything in his path leaves him as lonely among his own kind as his parent model Cylons first made him feel. He doesn't realize how readily he perpetuates his own misery, nor does he seem to understand the irony of his circumstances, but his flaws make him all the more human; a characteristic the heartless skinjob would deny without hesitation. But it's precisely this sort of duality that makes him such a fascinating antagonist, so much so that Moore and Espenson's decision to place him at the forefront of the mythos is shown to be a brilliant move. He's both superior and inferior to his creators, a tantruming child with countless nuclear weapons in one hand and the entirety of the human and Cylon races in the other. His hatred of humanity seems to assure mutual destruction; his call to genocide is as insane as it is logical. To his credit, Stockwell turns in a startling performance that allows Olmos and Espenson to effortlessly pull back the proverbial curtain. His carefully mapped portrayal of two Cavils -- one on Galactica, one on Caprica with Anders (Michael Trucco) -- even gives the actor and the filmmakers the opportunity to examine the conflict in Cavil's own mind. Simply put, Stockwell makes The Plan the enthralling character study it is. His supporting castmates are just as strong (especially Rick Worthy, who didn't have anywhere near this much meaty material in the series), but Stockwell carries the brunt of the film's burdens with style.
Unfortunately, The Plan isn't the be-all, end-all series capper fans have been waiting for. There aren't any groundbreaking revelations (at least none that blew my fragile little mind), the seventh Cylon model still doesn't get his due (or, for that matter, any serious mention), the supernatural elements of the series have all but been abandoned in the film, and there are a number of lingering mysteries that weren't addressed in the slightest (which, for obvious reasons, I can't list here). I know Olmos and his team treated the film as Battlestar's last hurrah, but this post-series experiment will hopefully open the door for more projects that posthumously dig into other aspects of the show. I'd love to see Moore go back even further, to the moment Cavil's jealousy of Daniel first became evident; to investigate the backstories of more characters, to unspool the mysteries of more machinations, to peel back the layers of more storylines. That being said, The Plan is a welcome addition to the Battlestar canon that injects another batch of stirring stories into the mix at large. With potent performances, a simmering script, and an astonishing overview of the destruction of the Twelve Colonies (presented in a startling sequence sure to grace many a fan's Top Ten Battlestar Moments list) makes this flick well worth the price of admission. The fact that the Blu-ray edition offers a 111-minute Extended Cut only makes its home video release more enticing.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray, Video Quality
"The Blu-ray release of Battlestar Galactica: The Plan accurately preserves the artistic intentions of the creators. The stylized visual elements within certain scenes are intentional and faithful to the broadcast presentation of the television show."
With those wise words of warning, Universal introduces The Plan's 1080p/VC-1 transfer; an entirely faithful presentation of a wholly inconsistent visual experience BSG fans will find to be comparable to the series' previously released seasons. Girtty, grainy, and garish throughout, the film is a hodgepodge of palettes, lighting schemes, filters, and over/under-saturated hues that somehow, by the grace of Ron Moore, actually enhance the tone and mood of everything the Galactica crew and their Cylon nemeses face. Skintones remain relatively accurate (despite some gaudy flushing on the surface of Caprica), the vast reaches of space are deep and absorbing, and detail, while erratic at times, is quite stunning, particularly during close-ups. The melding of old series clips with new film footage is impressive as well. The only problem I noticed was with an early shot between Six and Cavil that was both blurry and riddled with noise. Granted, it passes by in an instant -- and is subsequently forgotten the moment the Cylon Basestars unleash hell on the Colonies using some of the series' finest CG to date -- but it stuck out in my mind as the lone hiccup in an otherwise strong presentation. It helps that Universal's technical transfer is so sound. Yes, minor banding is present in a few shots, but I didn't catch sight of any errant artifacting, unintentional noise or crush, edge enhancement, or DNR.
As it stands, anyone familiar with the Blu-ray edition of The Complete Series will know exactly what to expect from The Plan's high definition transfer. It isn't striking by traditional standards, but it does boast a strange, serrated beauty Battlestar enthusiasts have come to know and love.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal continues to demonstrate its affection for Battlestar Galactica with yet another powerful and proficient DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. From the Cylons' devastating nuclear attacks on the Colonies to Anders' firefights on Caprica to the pulse-pounding bass that undergirds composer Bear McCreary's score, The Plan sounds absolutely fantastic. Slight normalization inconsistencies aside (an issue that's only noticeable when Olmos weaves scenes from the miniseries into the film), dialogue is both crisp and warm, prioritization is spot on, dynamics are bold and boisterous, and LFE output is a rumbling, roaring treat. The rear speakers are often restrained, but it only makes early club scenes, rapidly approaching action sequences, and the the film's most hair-raising set pieces that much more involving. Pans are Raptor smooth, directionality is precise, and the soundfield, from beginning to end, is as immersive as they come. If your fingers aren't drumming against your leg with McCreary's mesmerizing music, if chills aren't running across your scalp when the Basestars lay waste to the Colonies, if you aren't thoroughly pleased with Universal's efforts every time an explosion rocks the Galactica or an airlock hisses open, your heart is a dark pit from whence nothing returns.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Plan may not boast the sort of jaw-dropping supplemental package Universal granted The Complete Series box set, but it still offers a thoroughly satisfying one. While I do wish some of the behind-the-scenes featurettes were longer, most fans will be too pleased with the content itself (and its high definition presentation) to complain too much.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Plan, while quite different than what I was expecting, is a thematically thrilling addendum to the Battlestar Galactica mythos that's sure to please diehards searching for every last BSG morsel to devour. Olmos remains one of the series finest directors, pulls powerful performances from his cast, and helms a sharply written, well-conceived script that plugs up plot holes and offers a semi-fresh look at the Cylons and their self-appointed leader, Cavil. Universal's Blu-ray release is just as strong with a faithful video transfer (that's comparable to The Complete Series' high definition presentation), a stirring DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a solid helping of special features. Battlestar junkies won't be disappointed.
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Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Announced for Blu-ray - July 17, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' to Blu-ray on October 27th, day-and-date with the DVD release. For the first time ever, fans will be able to see the battle through the eyes of the Cylons, ...
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