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.
A version of this ominous recital opened each episode of the outstanding re-imagined TV series Battlestar Galactica for five years beginning in 2004. Given that the show's bad guys (a sentient, cybernetic race known as Cylons) nuked the bejesus out of their human creators, it might appear obvious that 'the plan' was total annihilation of sinful humanity and the Twelve Colonies they inhabited. Except for one thing...plan = fail. There were survivors, about 50,000 or so, who escaped the cosmic holocaust to begin a search for safety on a fabled Thirteenth Colony - Earth.
So I wondered. How does a bioengineered race with robust design screw up its genocidal machinations? Was the plan more circuitous than it appeared at face-value, hiding some higher purpose or did the Cylons simply underestimate their architects? Fortunately, the answers are revealed in the much anticipated television film Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, released on DVD and Blu-ray October 27th and scheduled to air on Syfy in 2010.
The Plan, written by show's co-executive producer Jane Espenson and directed by Edward James Olmos (who also stars as Commander William Adama), explores the apocalypse and its aftermath from a Cylon perspective and offers a glimpse into their reasoning, failures, and reversal. Humanoid Cylons (aka skin-jobs) that took a back seat in the series are brought to the fore, giving viewers a fuller picture of Cylon motives and the differences among them.
There are several standout performances. Dean Stockwell (Number One - John Cavil) is terrific in playing the sadist whose models diverge in their views of the genocide. Grace Park (Number Eight - Sharon "Boomer" Valerii) is convincing as the Cylon sleeper agent who struggles with her programming. And my favorite - Rick Worthy - who skillfully portrays the anguished Simon (Number Four) grappling with contradictory loyalties to his human and cybernetic families. As The Plan further develops these and other characters, it reinforces one of the reasons why Battlestar Galactica is so celebrated. It's more than just great eye candy - it really captivates with clever, character-driven story lines.
The Plan is sure to satisfy fans of Battlestar Galactica, but there are two caveats. First, be aware that there is some brief nudity and a fairly graphic sex scene that might not be appropriate for all viewers (this content is likely to be cut for the SyFy broadcast). Second, the film contains lots of spoilers, so I recommend waiting until you've seen the entire series, before delving into this gem.
The Plan is presented in 1080p High-Definition 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Consistent with the series, the film has an eclectic visual style, alternating between grainy & soft and clear & sharp; between dark & washed out and flashes of color; between shaky hand-held camera movements and static shots. Older footage from the series is dovetailed with some crisper shots created for this film. CGI images of nuclear destruction on Twelve Colonies are frightfully memorizing, and the detailed shots of Galactica and the Cylon Basestars and Raiders are magnificent. My only gripe is that white seems overemphasized in the sets' color schema, but for most folks, this esthetic will not significantly detract from the overall aesthetic experience.
Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles are available.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is outstanding. The sound is sharp and aggressively dynamic. During the series, I found some of the dialogue a bit soft, but in The Plan it's clear and strong. I was especially enthralled by the Hybrid's soliloquy as the Basestars deploy their nukes and she describes the burning wastelands that were once thriving colonies. Furthermore, the score by Bear McCreary is incredibly compelling, and film features a beautiful a cappella version of Battlestar Galactica's theme song.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan comes with several special featurettes including:
* From Admiral to Director: Edward James Olmos and The Plan: (6:48) - Olmos and several cast members discuss the Director's vision, dedication, and transition to working behind the camera.
* The Cylons of The Plan: (6.51) - Dean Stockwell, Rick Worthy, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, and others share about their characters the directions they took in the film.
* The Cylon Attack: (4:03) - Olmos and actor Michael Trucco (Samuel Anders) discuss the filming of an action sequence at the Maple Ridge Fire Training Center in British Columiba.
* Visual Effects: The Magic Behind The Plan: (19:03) - Interesting look at how the team of Mike Gibson and Gary Hutzel create some of the best visual effects you'll see anywhere.
* Deleted Scenes: (13:57) - Seven deleted scenes, including extended scenes of Sam Anders and his pyramid team, Cavil and Ellen Tigh (Kate Vernon) chatting in the bar before the attack, and more Cavil being his Machiavellian self.
* Commentary with Director/Actor Edward James Olmos and Executive Producer/Writer Jane Espenson: Olmos and Espenson discuss scenes and give a shout out to all the cast and crew who made it possible. The late Harvey Frand, the show's line producer who passed away in July, and Dean Stockwell are especially lauded.
There are also two Blu-ray exclusive features:
* Battlestar Galactica Trivia Challenge: Once you login to the Universal online community, you'll experience different levels of trivia questions to test your knowledge and move through the ranks of BSG-aficionado.
* BD-Live: Includes My Scenes, D-Box, and trailers - meh.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan combines spectacular visuals and sound with strong performances. If you're an ardent follower of the show and looking for additional character development - this film is highly recommended for your collection. If you haven't yet seen the entire series - consider doing so, and then enjoy The Plan as icing on the cake.