Actors: Eric Stoltz, Michelle Andrew, Roger R. Cross, Magda
Apanowicz, Genevieve Buechner, Esai Morales
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 21, 2009
Run Time: 93 minutes
Feature Commentary with Director Jeffrey Reiner and Executive
Producer/Writer Ronald D. Moore and Executive Producer David Eick
What the Frak is Caprica?
The Director's Process
The V Club
The Birth of a Cylon
upon a time, there was a doctor named Victor Frankenstein who thought he
could conquer death.
It didn't turn out so well for him . . . not that his
spiritual descendent Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) would ever notice.
Graystone has a monster of his own to work on. Fueled by grief and the
singular arrogance that only the truly brilliant possess, he's prepared to
take a giant leap forward in the annals of scientific revolution. That cliff
yawning beneath him doesn't even register.
So goes the pilot of
Caprica, a quietly brilliant follow up to the equally masterful
Battlestar Galactica reboot.
Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick ostensibly hope to show the beginnings
of their sci-fi universe - the creation of the Cylons some fifty years
before the attack which wiped out human civilization - but they have more in
mind than a simple spin-off. Caprica feels radically different than
Battlestar in many ways, and yet
it's still cut from the same cloth and its cerebral tone still belongs
unmistakably to the same vision.
At its heart lies a tragedy
eating away at Graystone's heart. His daughter Zoe (Alessandra Toreson) died
in a terrorist attack triggered by monotheistic revolutionaries in the heart
of the titular planet.
All of the money and fame he's earned pioneering
technological marvels can't bring her back . . . or can it? Zoe, you see,
was quite the chip off the old block, and developed a unique artificial
intelligence which not only might aid her father's latest project (a vaguely
familiar military robot of some sort) but could, in essence, restore her to
There's a few minor
problems to overcome first, of course, which leads him to enlist the help of
another powerful man: Joseph Adams/Adama (Esai Morales), a corrupt lawyer
working for a Tauron criminal syndicate on Caprica. He lost his wife and
daughter in the same explosion that claimed Zoe, and now struggles to raise
his young son Willy by himself. Though obviously accustomed to devil's
bargains, he initially balks at Graystone's overtures. The possibilities of
what lies before them, however, prove too tempting to entirely cast aside.
The film divides its time
between the two men's slow evaluation of each other and the source of the
explosion which drove them together. BSG
fans will recognize the seeds of several plot threads to come, and
Caprica does an excellent job of capturing the little details that
remind us we're not on Earth. As simple drama, it works exceedingly well,
making up in emotional tension what it lacks in overt excitement. It scores
its highest marks, however, in the ideas behind the storyline: ideas which
made its predecessor so indisputably great.
Though hardly new (science
fiction has a long history of artificial intelligence tales), Caprica
lends them a fierce urgency by tying them into very primal human emotions.
It frames the intellectual and ethical ramifications within the raw pain of
a grieving father, a pain that makes monstrous decisions all too easy.
also circles back on Battlestar's notions of faith, and the way
fervent beliefs give rise to both good and evil. We see the foundation of
the Cylons' strange religion, as well as the Colonial social prejudices
which caused the future fleet so many difficulties.
Caprica lays them
out with thoughtfulness and respect, and yet never succumbs to the
pretentious intellectualizing which dogs so many similar science fiction
endeavors. The characters remain at the forefront, devoid of
desperation, but making up for it with a silent unease that slowly builds as
the pilot goes on. Prequel it may be, but Caprica shows every sign of
standing side by side with its predecessor as an equal: no less powerful for
its obvious differences.
Considering the quality of the film itself, the disc comes across as a
letdown. Besides running commentary from Moore, Eick and director Jeffrey
Reiner, it contains only a handful of deleted scenes, some
not-especially-interesting video blogs . . . and a random episode of SciFi's
Ghost Hunters reality series. This egregious corporate overreach
grates on the nerves, especially considering that they could have easily
used that hour of disc space for something vaguely connected to the project.
Come on guys! Give us an episode of BSG
at the very least!
WORTH IT? You bet
your frakking ass. BSG fans won't be disappointed, and those new to
the franchise may find themselves surprised by the depth and complexity on
display. The only downside is having to wait another year before the series
shows up. (In a break with tradition Caprica will actually be
released on DVD on April 21, 2009 well in advance of its broadcast premiere
on the SCI FI Channel in 2010.)
- Rob Vaux