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DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

by Mike Moody, posted Oct 26th 2009 12:29PM
Batlestar Galactica The Plan DVD Universal Leoben, that tricky toaster, was right: All of this has happened before, and all of it is happening again.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan retells major events from the first two years of the celebrated sci-fi series through the eyes of the Cylons. It weaves together recycled scenes from the series with new footage to reveal a first-hand account of the Cylon agenda, or "plan."

The result is a film that feels incomplete, episodic and disjointed. It plays less like a movie and largely like a disk full of high quality bonus material. Most of what happens here feels irrelevant to the series -- almost like it was tacked on to the BSG mythos to satisfy completists and hardcore fans. Still, it's worth watching to see Dean Stockwell carry the film with a fearless performance as the scheming and duplicitous Brother Cavil. The veteran character actor takes center stage in The Plan, and your enjoyment of the film will rest largely on how much you like, or dislike, Cavil and his major role in the series.

Stockwell's performance isn't the only thing worth recommending here. The Plan fleshes out a few of the series' more compelling stories, and it makes room for a new one involving Simon (Rock Worthy), aka Cylon Number Four. Worthy is terrific as a Four living with a human family and torn between his human life and his duty as a Cylon. Cylons learning to love other humans and to cherish their own humanity is a repeating theme in The Plan.

We also get more insight into Boomer's (Grace Park) headspace from season one, when she was working as a Cylon sleeper agent. It's not necessary to learn the details of her mission or how the Cylons controlled her, but the new scenes between Park and Stockwell are fantastic. In a scene that foreshadows the Cylon civil war, Boomer tells Cavil that she prefers being human – feeling love, friendship, and even heartache – to being a machine. Cavil responds with a nasty rant about the inferiority of humans to machines, echoing his famous "I want to see gamma rays" speech from the series.

Some small loose ends from the series are tied up here (Whatever happened to Shelly Godfrey? Who was Six waiting for on Caprica before the attack?), but these aren't really questions I was dying to have answered. I would have preferred to learn more about Cavil's past with the Final Five or about Leoben and his obsession with Starbuck. The Plan devotes some screen time to Leoben's story, but his scenes feel rushed and underdeveloped, especially when compared to the Simon or Boomer scenes. The Plan is more interested in showing us how Cavil was directly responsible for a lot of the havoc aboard the Galactica, and how his efforts to destroy humanity were doomed from the start.

Also missing is the biting social and political commentary we've come to expect from Battlestar Galactica. Many of the series' major cast members are MIA as well. Great actors like like Katee Sackhoff, Tahmoh Penikett and James Callis only show up in old footage from the series. Even the Admiral himself, director Edward James Olmos, is mostly seen in recycled clips.

Olmos pulls great performances from his cast, and his film offers some very impressive special effects for a straight-to-DVD movie. The Cylon attack on the colonies is shown in vivid detail and is scored by a hybrid Cylon's haunting play-by-play of the devastation.

The Plan DVD does feature some male and female nudity. Olmos and writer Jane Espenson defend this choice on the commentary track by arguing that Colonial society didn't have the same hang-ups that we do about our bodies (or something like that). Still, it feels a little unnecessary, especially one scene in the Galactica's unisex locker room.

I was hoping The Plan would offer more original content and would be able to stand on its own as a film. Instead, it's an imperfect but welcome love letter to the fans, and it was clearly a labor of love for the cast and crew.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan premieres on DVD Tuesday, Oct. 27.

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woilagalactica

The Plan is a surprise. Its definitely far better than I expect from these comments. Yes, I believe most of the scenes are deleted and finally someone planned or figure out how to piece them altogether, whichever way, The Plan shows why Cylon transforms from cold blooded machines to conscious beings. Although the story doesn't deliver any groundbreaking moments, its just as well done as RAZOR. The CGI scene for the Basestars attacking the colony is absolutely stunning. I give this installment an 8 out of 10. Don't read the negatives, just pick up the DVD and have your popcorns ready.

January 10 2010 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

So far, I think everyone's comments are right on the money. I too was reminded of those budget-saving flashback episodes so common to sitcoms. There were moments when I felt like I wasn't watching new scenes at all but rather deleted scenes that someone realised they could string together for another hour and a half of entertainment. (In fact, I wonder what the ratio actually was to new footage.) I thought Telechimp's idea was a good one--rather see them flesh out fuller episodes in season 1 and 2, getting to see them in context, and release a special edition. I know in a couple years I'll probably want to break this series out and watch it all over again anyway. I also didn't think the new material hear shed much light or enlightment on anything. The CGI was cool, but still left me wanting. I'd rather see a whole 2-hour show just about the attack and how Galactica and Pegasus escaped (kind of a morphing between the best parts of "Razor" and "The PLAN"), but the CGI budget on that would be astronomical. Cavil was fine, and he was portrayed as the mastermind behind it all--but I really wanted more of the "how?" and more about the "why?" And I agree with Jason, I wanted more knowledge of the final five and how that all worked, because that was one of the big letdowns of the series for me. Ultimately, it wasn't great television, but it was nice having an old friend over to reminisce for a few hours, even if the effect was to make me sad that those days are gone by. Believe it or not, it was a couple of the DVD extras that made me appreciate the disk and helped me differentiate what was cutting room floor various new material. I'm not about to sit through the director's commentary though.

So say we all.

November 05 2009 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim McCleese

I just watched it. Since it has not aired yet I won't spoil anything for those who did not purchase the dvd. I will at least say one thing. This movie is a GEM! This movie has in particular, scenes that will stagger the limits of your concept of elite entertainment and appreciation of acting excellence!

November 01 2009 at 8:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott

The plan is that the cylons had no plan. They made themselves human thus becoming human. Both the best and the worst of humanity.

October 27 2009 at 10:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen

First off I'm kinda glad I didn't pay 20+ dollars for this....I'd be surprised if it cost $20 to make. I was expecting something grander...this doesn't live up to the standard BSG set. It's basically 99.9% recycled footage with a few background details filled in and the details aren't even that interesting. The least they could have done was flesh out the Cylon/Colonial battles a little bit, they didn't so much as blow up a Viper.

Now that said it's still BSG. I did enjoy the extra dimensions they added to Cavil, turns out not all of him were assholes. It's not like it was horrible, they just could have done so much better.

October 26 2009 at 11:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim-1

To use a phrase....I can't wait to see this! I don't care if this is a collection of bonus material or whatever, this is something I am eagerly looking forward to seeing. This is a gift movie for BSG fans.

October 26 2009 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason

The Plan was such an unfortunate let-down. The comment about it feeling like a bunch of deleted scenes is right on the money - while it fleshed out some background details, I mainly sat there thinking "what's the point of this?" while watching. I was hoping that they would at least flesh out some of the further-back details: who the 7 models were based on; how Cavil inserted the 5 so far back before the start of the series; how he made the other models forget who the 5 were, etc. Instead we got a story that starts just before the attack on the colonies and ends before the end of season two, less than halfway into the series.

October 26 2009 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Telechimp

"largely like a disk full of high quality bonus material." - right on the money. A better choice would have been to place the scenes into the corresponding episodes and release it as a 'special edition' 'extended episode' complete series dvd.

I definitely think you should watch it if you were a fan of the series. It didn't do any harm, but it didn't answer any burning questions, whatsoever.

{spoilers, maybe?}
The parts showing the destruction of the colonies were terrific, though. Great CGI, beautifully rendered.

Oh, and did we know base ships could do that? That was awesome...

October 26 2009 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Saltypoison

I was really looking forward to this, but honestly, it was like watching the inevitable clip show they always seem to tack onto long running sitcoms. The "new" information they added wasn't really enlightening at all. The only storyline I found even slightly interesting was Cavil and the orphan kid.

October 26 2009 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Saltypoison's comment
TeenWolfie

Yeah, I wanted to like the orphan thing, but I knew where all that was going from the start.

October 26 2009 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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