Monday, October 2, 2017

Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome

-Husker Adama's testosterone-laced pronouncement and conviction after the thrilling escape sequence inside the remnants of the Archeron-

"The environments were painstakingly crafted by the same visual effects team that worked on BSG."
-Joe Nazarro, SciFiNow #, p.12-

It "retains a certain echo of what we had done so the fans still feel like they're immersed in that same universe."
-Producer David Eick, SciFiNow#75,p12-

Admittedly, Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome (2012), a prequel to the reimagined Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009), began a bit like a child long before its born, a twinkle in the creative eye.

When word leaked of a prequel series set in the tenth year of the First Cylon War following a young William Adama as Viper pilot fresh out of the Academy and assigned to the Battlestar Galactica, this Sci-Fi Fanatic, in full confession, couldn't help but feel like a little girl giddy with excitement.

Beyond all of the subtext of Moore's creation of Battlestar Galactica, as wonderful as it was as political head candy and commentary (working beautifully because it never got preachy), this geek was as much aroused by the space engagements, ship battles and CGI efforts that permeated the series as he was the depth of character. The reimagined series had both in spades.

So the sheer idea that producer David Eick, sans Moore, was shooting for a prequel series, positively ignited the imagination once again. The sheer thrill of the possibility of another action packed four years was almost too much to handle but alas it was not to be.

Sure Caprica (2010) came and went in the fizzle of a single season which likely spelled doom for Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome, but Caprica was hardly the science fiction space opera we'd grown to love from the source material and Moore's adaptation of that original material first proffered by Glen A. Larson.

Caprica was a dramatic diversion at best fleshing out the Battlestar Galactica universe from an earthbound perspective, but was overly serious and unlikeable in its world and character building. The characters were drawn with a severity of distaste.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome would be a return to form in space anyway even with the series and its respective, established sets long gone. The hope for it would be a series that could mimic that world through computer animation in a fashion similar or besting the world of Sanctuary (2007-2011), which moved from webisodes (2007) to series (2008-2011).

Unfortunately a series of webisodes for Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome and the effort to move to pilot never came to pass as SyFy refused to option the series. Oh what could have been.

We determine here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic if the ephemeral web-based series had something significant to offer or deserving of its mere fleeting lark status.

With a thirst for the effects work handled for the action on Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica, Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic wanted to explore Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome in its every detail.

The series was comprised of just ten webisodes.

There is a good deal of Galactica, Viper and, to my surprise, Colonial Raptor action. The Raptor is beloved by this writer and Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome delivers, in spades, mostly quality effects for these entries, essentially chapters, that were compiled for this now single film.

Characters are intriguing enough in the short time frame allotted. They even convey a sense of camaraderie, desperation and futility in this endless war.

Young William "Husker" Adama is assigned to the Wild Weasel Colonial Raptor with co-pilot Coker Fasjovik.

Their mission, outside of Galactica DRADIS range, discovers the Colonial Heavy Cruiser Archeron destroyed. A cylon attack ensues by three Cylon Raiders. And it's worth noting these raiders are the early era variety Cylon Raiders beloved from the 1978 series. Awesome! This makes sense offering a bridge between Caprica and the Moore series proper. Some of the sequences in space are downright haunting too before sequences slide into thrilling.

Eventually third Raptor passenger, Dr. Kelly, leads the trio to a Colonial "ghost" fleet in Cylon space. These are ships believed to have been destroyed. The massive armada plans a raid on Cylon-occupied ice planet Djerba.

The sense of humanity is on display despite all of the computer technology implemented to bring this would be series to life. One particularly moving sequence sees Coker inform an old friend, believed dead as a result of this secret mission, he is a father and has a son. Performances feel genuine throughout the project.

As the Osiris jumps to its mission location a classic Cylon Basestar also appears. Like the Cylon Raider, this is an homage to the classic Cylon Basestars from the original series (1978-1979). Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome is wonderful in linking the original series ideas to those created by Eick and Moore. To think we could have had this series week to week.

The ensuing Cylon Basestar battle with the Vipers and the Osiris is thrilling and reminiscent of the kind of excitement that was palpable in episodes like 33 and Razor from the Eick Moore series. Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome is as faithful to the spirit of that series as one could hope. It's a thrill a minute as the Wild Weasel crashes onto the surface of Djerba. Effects in the crash sequence may not be quite up to snuff nor the reality of their survival given the crash.

Meanwhile, Lt. Jim Kirby does the unthinkable, the unimaginable for a Colonial pilot, and he abandons support of the Raptor to go "home" to see his son.

The trio stumbles upon a cave and discovers Tech Sgt. Xander Toth, the only survivor. All are attacked by a snake-like creature, the result of experiments by the Cylons on combining machine and living tissue.

The team of three men and one female discover an abandoned human outpost. Once utilized by the Cylons, but now deserted.

The story continues and reaches a natural conclusion working as a kind of self-contained prequel episode and ending on a rather tender human moment and a nice little surprise linking the Cylons to the Moore series.

And through the eyes of the idealistic, single-minded focus of Husker Adama we discover the complicated horrors and vicious nature of war.

This journey into the mythology of Battlestar Galactica compensates for the lack of tangible effects by drawing upon effects work, camera and lens flare, overexposes and other technical maneuvers not unlike Caprica. The snowy CGIscapes and other computer backgrounds are indeed beautiful. So for the world of Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome, along with its reliance on a variety of colors, it all works to beautiful effect to something akin to a modest budgeted work of technical art.

But underneath all the pretty colors is indeed a story within the Battlestar universe. Among the many discoveries is a Baltar-like female traitor. When will we ever learn? With friends like humans who needs enemies? Humanity is constantly betraying and at odds with itself. It's particularly troubling when you look around. Yet sci-fi series after sci-fi series echoes a troubling truth in that humanity simply cannot stick together. Competing agendas and belief systems are constantly at odds and we are forever doomed to repeat our mistakes despite what history teaches us. It is a sad, sinister reality. To further add to that pessimism, a friend, often an optimist (and you know how that goes), said to me, "when you really think about it we're all ultimately on our own in this world." What a thought.

The hope here comes in the form of William "Husker" Adama who returns home and despite betrayal and despite setback, he believes in his brothers and sisters of humanity. He believes in focusing on the enemy. He's changed a little. His brethren offer a newfound respect, but no matter his realizations he will forever have the betrayal of humanity knocking at his door. It's frightening just how true to life science fiction can bring us. But the sad fact is the divide seems more pronounced than ever. The key is to fight the urge to give into it.

By and large Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome is a solid entry in the Battlestar sweepstakes delivering entertainment value, mythology-building and Galactica-based fan service in the form of battles and spaceships.

The short, roughly 90 minute film is a completely worthwhile entry and works entirely on its own terms. To my surprise, Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome was superior to Caprica, while I applaud the efforts of the latter, and resides comfortably next to some of the stronger entries on the Moore series proper. All said and done, this writer would have much preferred a single season of Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome in the spirit of the 1978 classic over Caprica. While Caprica had great dramatic potential, as it turned out, the wrong series got the green light even if for a single season. It should be oversold. Blood And Chrome doesn't soar to the substantive heights of Moore's Battlestar Galactica by any stretch, but it's certainly much more in keeping with the spirit of that series to the delight of this fan.

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