Battlestar Galactica (2003 Miniseries)

Director: Michael Rymer
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby, Miniseries
Run Time:

DVD Features: Available subtitles: Spanish, French; Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1); Feature Commentary with Director Michael Rymer and Executive Producers David Eick and Ron Moore; Battlestar Galactica: The Lowdown; Deleted Scenes



The 1978 TV series Battlestar Galactica was one of those love / hate affairs - you loved it as a kid and hated it as an adult! I mean, come on! Those 'Seventies hairstyles! That cutesy robot dog! The overuse of special effects stock footage!

So it was ripe for a remake - right?

Well, not quite. Despite its many faults, Battlestar Galatica holds a special place in my heart. It may have been a Star Wars rip-off, but there was something dark, ominous and gloomy about its storyline of twelve human colonies being wiped out by misanthropic chrome-plated robots called Cylons and a group of "rag-tag" survivors trying to outrun the Cylon Empire. Besides, childhood would have been a lot duller without the series because then we would have been stuck with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century only . . .

So does that mean that I hate the 2003 Battlestar Galactica "update" as a mini-series for the Sci-Fi Channel?

Well, not quite. Despite being the type who always goes on about Hollywood senselessly remaking classics such as Planet of the Apes and Solaris, I must admit that this is one re-imagining that actually works out and deserves to be called that instead of a remake. Enough imagination and creative thought went into this mini-series to make one feel as if one is watching something brand new instead of a pointless nostalgic rehash.

Sure, I kinda missed the Battlestar Galatica theme song and the new hardware looked a bit too Wing Commander-ish at times. Let's face it: special effects wiz John Dykstra (who also worked on the first Star Wars) was, well, a wiz at creating the illusion of size when it comes to his models of spaceships. To understand what I mean you should have seen Battlestar Galactica on the big screen back then (outside the States several Battlestar Galactica episodes were strung together to make full-length movies, one of which was the dreaded Conquest of the Earth which consisted of the Battlestar Galactica 1980/The Night the Cylons Landed storyline).

Ironically Battlestar Galactica 2003's visual iconography looks more generic in this post-Space: Above and Beyond era, whilst the original Battlestar Galatica's visual style looks quite unique nowadays even though Lucas famously took the Galactica producers to court - and lost: after all, he had been doing his own fair amount of ripping off other movies!

Also, Battlestar Galactica 2003 takes its sweet time to finally blast off. But when it does, it is gripping stuff indeed. Add great special effects and some decent acting and the truth is that only the most die-hard Battlestar Galactica geek wouldn't find something to like here. Recommended.

THE DISC: This is one of those awful double-sided discs. The three hours or so feature fits in on Side A along with a rather dry (as these things tend to be) audio commentary by writers, producers, the director, etc. On Side B there is a rather neat Making Of documentary with lots of footage from the original Battlestar Galactica for us nostalgists. The deleted scenes are mostly of the redundant plot expositional type with incomplete special effects and it is easy to see why they were dropped.

Personally I don't like double-sided discs since one has to be so extra careful while handling them and can't imagine why they didn't make it a two-disc set. After all, it wouldn't have been that much more expensive to print a second disc, could it?

WORTH IT? This mini-series was only now finally released to coincide with the launch of the series itself on the Sci-Fi Channel. Thanks to a pirated version floating around on the Internet it feels as if everyone has seen it by now except me! But take my word on this: this DVD offers much more than any pirated *.AVI file ever would. Besides kids, downloading flicks from the Internet is just plain wrong!

RECOMMENDATION: If you haven't seen it before, now - with the TV series kicking off on the Sci-Fi Channel - is the time to check out Battlestar Galactica 2003. If you're a die-hard Battlestar Galactica purist holding out on seeing it you are simply doing themselves a disservice. After all, I have a nagging suspicion that the blurb proclaiming that it is "superior to the original" on the DVD cover just might be correct . . .



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