Article

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - 21 YEARS OLD




Feature Films | TV Series | New Movie?| Apogee (aka John Dykstra) | Cast & Crew | Links



THE FEATURE FILMS


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BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978)
"Feature cut down from first and fifth episodes of short-lived TV series; Greene is commander of starship taking survivors of doomed planet in search of new home. Belongs on small screen, where it's moderately interesting and John Dykstra's special effects come off best. Premiere originally telecast at 148 minutes. "
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Leonard Maltin

"They took the TV series about interplanetary hot rodders (commanded by Lorne Greene) and blew up several episodes to into 35-mm hoping to cash in on the Star Wars craze. Directed by Richard Colla. Cast includes Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Ray Milland, Patrick MacNee, Lew Ayres, and Jane Seymour. Rated U. 125 Minutes. Available on video."
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Blockbuster Guide to Movies

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MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK (1979)

"Several episodes from the '70s sci-fi TV series are edited together. Not exactly the formula for success, and it shows. Directed by Vince Edwards. Cast includes Lorne Green, and Lloyd Bridges. Rated U. 108 Minutes. Available on video. Made for TV. "
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Blockbuster Guide to Movies

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CONQUEST OF THE EARTH (1980)

"Spaceship commander Greene helps scientist Reed battle Cylons who've attacked Earth. Cobbled-together episodes of TV series Battlestar Galactica. Directed by Sidney Hayers. Cast includes Lorne Greene, Kent McCord, and Barry van Dyke. Rated U. 99 Minutes. Available on video. "
- Blockbuster Guide to Movies

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THE TV SERIES

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19 EPISODES OF 50 MINS, PILOT.
"It cost a lot, and it flopped. A vast fleet of spaceships, filled with humanoids like Lorne Greene, nears Earth in its attempts to escape the dread Cylons, a mechanical race inimical to biological life. Some of the special effects - created by John Dykstra, who did the tricks in Star Wars - are great. "
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John Clute, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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THE NEW MOVIE?



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A while ago a rumour emerged that FX company 'No Prisoners' were attached to an as yet unannounced film version of the classic late 70's short lived sci-fi TV series "Battlestar Galactica". In the meantime, the film has been officially announced and new details have emerged.

Mike Finch (Wing Commander) will write the screenplay which starts where the series left off - exploring Commander Cain's mission to find the lost Battlestar Galactica and the tribe of humans that he thinks may have reached Earth during pre-historic times aboard the first great Battlestar, the Atlantis.

Original series creator Glen A. Larson will co-produce the $40 million feature alongside Todd Moyer (Wing Commander) in Luxembourg when the film begins shooting in September. No studio has been attached to the project yet.

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APOGEE (AKA JOHN DYKSTRA)



John Dykstra
(1947 - )
Biography from Baseline

Occupation: Producer
Also: Inventor, cinematographer

Born: June 3, 1947, Long Beach, CA

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One of the leading figures in modern film special visual effects, John Dykstra may be most important for his contribution to the unprecedented level of "realism" achieved in such 1970s sci-fi landmarks as SILENT RUNNING (1971) and STAR WARS (1977). He learned much of his craft collaborating with the legendary Douglas Trumbull at his Trumbull Film Effects. Dykstra was a special effects cameraman and industrial designer working on the intricate space stations required for Trumbull's SILENT RUNNING. After a hiatus from entertainment projects, he reteamed with Trumbull, at the latter's Future General Company, to work on various projects including commercials, theme park attractions and experiments in three-dimensional filmmaking effects.

Dykstra subsequently served as the first head of Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas' FX company, supervising visual effects photography for STAR WARS. Dykstra demonstrated a distinctive flair for designing and photographing complex models and miniatures with such painstaking attention to scale that he could create a convincing illusion of great size and mass.

The memorable opening images of STAR WARS, in which immense and multifaceted ships pass over the camera, qualifies as classic Dykstra. He shared a richly deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects for his efforts (beating out the FX team headed by his mentor Trumbull on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND). Dykstra received another memento from the Academy that year-a Class II Academy Technical Award for the invention and development of the Dystraflex Camera, an important tool in the craft of motion control photography.

Dykstra reteamed with Trumbull to design the elaborate FX for the artistically problematic but hugely successful STAR TREK-THE MOTION PICTURE (1979).

He has since complained that the special effects team got involved in the project so late that director Robert Wise had to film long sequences in which the befuddled actors were shot reacting to special effects that had not even been conceptualized. In addition to undermining the performances, this poor planning served to make the effects stand out rather than blend into the dramatic whole.

Typically, for big special effects-oriented productions, the visual effects coordinator is brought aboard quite early in the production-often before there is even a finalized screenplay-to collaborate with the producer, director, art director, costume designer, director of photography and other behind-the-scenes personnel. Nonetheless, Trumbull and Dykstra shared an Oscar nomination for their collaboration.

Around 1979, Dykstra left ILM to form his own state-of-the-art FX company, Apogee, Inc.

Through Apogee, he was able to work on a wide variety of projects utilizing creature animatronics, stop motion animation, motion control photography and animation enhancements. Dykstra's first major project was the lavish sci-fi TV series "Battlestar Galactica" (ABC, 1978-80). He served as a producer as well as the special effects coordinator for this mediocre "Star Wars" knock-off which showcased the most elaborate effects ever on TV. Budgeted at $1 million per episode, "Battlestar Galactica" gained a small but devoted following. The show generated a feature, re-edited from the three-hour debut, and a much more modestly produced sequel/spin-off series entitled "Galactica 1980."

Apogee has subsequently provided FX for a variety of TV-movies and miniseries including ALICE IN WONDERLAND (CBS, 1985), OUT ON A LIMB (ABC, 1987), from Shirley MacLaine's spacey memoir, and AMERIKA (ABC, 1987). The latter, set ten years after a hypothetical Soviet takeover of the US, featured a memorable sequence-courtesy of Dykstra and Company-in which the US Capitol is bombed.

Dykstra has lent his talents to such diverse film fare as CADDYSHACK (1980), Clint Eastwood's FIREFOX (1982), Tobe Hooper's remake of INVADERS FROM MARS (1986) and the comedy MY STEPMOTHER IS AN ALIEN (1988).

BATMAN FOREVER (1995) represented the biggest hit with which he has been associated since the halcyon days of STAR WARS.

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CAST & CREW


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MAIN CAST: Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Ray Milland, Lew Ayres, Jane Seymour, Wilfrid Hyde-White, John Colicos, Laurette Spang, John Fink, Terry Carter, Herbert Jefferson Jr., Maren Jensen , Tony Swartz, Noah Hathaway

PRODUCER: Leslie Stevens; DIRECTOR: Richard A. Colla; SCREENWRITER: Glen A. Larson; EDITOR: Robert L. Kimble, Leon Ortiz-Gill, Larry Strong; CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ben Colman; COMPOSER: Stu Phillips; ART DESIGN: John E. Chilberg II; SPECIAL EFFECTS: Apogee, Joe Johnston

OSCARS: None.

NOMINATIONS: None.

(Winner best film 1979: The Deer Hunter)

125 minutes. Colour

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LINKS:


Review of Battlestar Galactica
Review of
Conquest of the Earth

March 1998 Sci-Fi Movie Pick of the Month: Battlestar Galactica

Discuss the planned Battlestar Galactica movie with fellow fans in the
Sci-Fi Movie Page's Boardroom

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