(All region VCD)

Movie: * * *

Repeat after me: "VCD no good". This is a phrase you'll do well to repeat when buying suspect merchandise from obscure persons of doubtless Asian background on flea markets like I did when I recently obtained a copy of the excellent Princess Mononoke anime movie. VCD is a predecessor of the DVD format and can be cheaply produced on your home PC with not much effort. Most DVD players can play the format. A movie is usually split over two CD disks.

However, the compression used is very inferior to that of DVD, and sometimes VCD copies can be worse than video copies - I kid you not! The image on My Princess Mononoke copy, especially when not static can seem as bad as some low res MPEGs you get on the Internet! That said, when a colleague wanted to know whether I wanted Battlestar Galactica on VCD I jumped at the opportunity: the two writeable CD discs I bought for him to copy it unto were cheaper than what my Atlantis DVD rental cost!

Obviously ripped from the DVD, the quality on my pirated Battlestar Galactica VCD isn't too bad. Some occasional pixelating, clear and loud (but mono) sound. Should I have gone for a DVD rental instead? Maybe, remember piracy is a crime, kids! However, it seems somehow apt to own Battlestar Galactica in this way. Always a stepchild in the sci-fi world (after all, it is an unashamed Star Wars rip-off designed to cash in on the late-1970s sci-fi craze), I have always had a soft spot for Battlestar Galactica.

(For the uninitiated: it is a very expensive TV show that ran for two seasons. The pilot episode was released in cinemas in both the States and elsewhere. Its producer, Glen A. Larson, would later give the world Knight Rider. Brrr . . .)

I first saw it at a drive-in as a 12-year-old in 1979 and fell in love with it. Hey, I was a kid and it had explosions, big loud spaceships done by John Dykstra (who did the groundbreaking Star Wars special effects) and shiny metal robots. Needless to say I also religiously followed the TV series. Unfortunately the series has dated badly. My much younger brother (22) merely rolled his eyes at me defending the movie after watching it together. The hair styles are excruciatingly late-Seventies, the plot has some pure layers of cheese, there's a nauseating small kid and an even worse cute robot dog sidekick, the soundtrack features some very bad disco music and fashion (no doubt people living in a galaxy far away would also like the Bee Gees!), some truly bad acting and the special effects aren't all that special anymore.

Despite all this (did I mention how much even the movie's symphonic score sounds like John Williams' for Star Wars?), nostalgia isn't a thing of the past and I must admit to having enjoyed watching the Battlestar Galactica movie again.

WORTH IT? Only if you are in the 30-years and older age bracket, meaning you saw this as a kid.

RECOMMENDATION: I can't recommend you pirating movies, kids!

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