kaffy_r (kaffy_r) wrote,

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Oho! She plays at being a critic! How droll!

Darkness, Apocalypse, Joan Crawford Eyebrows.
or, I gave it a Six, Helena; it had a beat, you could dance to it.

So yes, I am a Battlestar Galactica fan. Not the one from the 1970s with the blue velvet capes, as I mentioned to a friend last week. And if it's Mormon, I can't make it out.

What it is is Real Good. It's a way to look into the black and gold heart of humanity, pull out some of our biggest loves, fears, gods and devils and give them separate names like End of the World and Cylon, like Death and Resurrection, like Politics and Family, like Space and Suns pointing the way home to Earth, like 49,000 left, like Lies and Heartbreak and Defeat and Concentration Camps and Terrorism and Identities mis-taken or otherwise, like False Saviors and True, like Cowardice, like Bravery, and Faith, and Loyalty, and Love, Love, Love...and then tell our story with them.

Also with flippy spaceships, hot robot babes and very, very tall hunky human guys, and squirrelly bat-shit crazy human genius doctor-types, emo towel-wearing Sons Of Kings and Machinery-wise Salt of the Earth types. And gun-toting kickass gals of human provenance, or something like (yeah, those hot robot babes, again.) And blowy-up things. And sex. Woot. Sex.

Fans? It has many. Actors? The best. Writers? Hell, yeah! Emmys? Hell, no! (Well, yeah, maybe in the tech categories.) It's skiffy for Christ sake! (Hey, but it did get a Peabody Award!) An end in sight? Why, yes. Its creator, Ron Moore, has decreed the coming (eventually) fourth season on the SciFi network to be the last.

And, as a way to increase interest in the last season, NBC-Universal, which owns SciFi, decided to take a BSG quasi-standalone Television Movie called - with stunning originality - "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" and put it out into a limited number of movie theaters across the nation. Devoted fans could get free tickets, and stand in line to get in. And that happened Monday. It's going to show up on television on Nov. 24th, I think, but NBC was counting on folks like me to fill the theaters.

Yeah, of course I went.

And of course I had some thoughts about it, even if they might be shorter than this stupid preamble once I write them down.

(So here's the deal. I'm gonna put the rest of this under a cut, because a) I may well mention spoilerific stuff, at least a teensy tiny bit, so if you didn't go the movie and you want to be all fresh and unknowing when it hits your TV screen, don't read any further. You've all been warned, you frakkers. (Yeah, that's a BSG euphemism for precisely what you think, and a lot of nay-sayers just cackle with "I'm not Them" glee when show fans use it, because they think we're all fringe-socialized Asperger's victims, and I really don't care, because I like it, because, you know? I'm one of the fringe-socialized Asperger's victims. So suck on it.) and b) because not all my friends are drooling with anticipation over my BSG experience and commentary.)

* When we walked into the Evanston Century theater, and showed our Get In Free If You Get There In Time papers to the nice lady, she wrote the number 9 on the backs of our hands. I first thought we were ninth in line. We were only 15th or so. Then I thought of the Ninth Doctor, which makes me more pathetic than I'd like to think.

* There were fewer Fans there than I thought there might have been; more "I don't like SF, I just like this show" types; and very few folks my age. Excuse me while I hike up my Sansabelt slacks and go out to tell the kids to get off my lawn.

* We had to sit through ads. Television ads for Zune and Xbox. And half-way through, we had to see the ads again. Just in case we forgot we were watching a TV movie.

* Note to NBC-Universal - if you're going to do this again, you might think about making your television movie with a high enough picture quality to survive a leap to the big screen. Razor more than occasionally suffered from blurred action and fuzzy lines. Not enough pixels, as Bob said.

* The movie? Ah, yes, Razor.

tells the story of the Pegasus, one of only two Battlestar-class FTL starships to survive the Cylon War of Human Extermination.

    We've seen the ship, commanded by ranking Colonial Admiral Helena Cain, before, in the second and third seasons of Battlestar Galactica. Cain is powerful, charismatic, striking, icily beautiful, with a lovely alto voice and crows-wing eyebrows over harsh and frightened eyes. As written by Moore and his team, she and her sleek and dangerous ship present us a distorted vision of surviving humanity. Where Galactica, under the command of William Adama, has become the protector of that humanity, and the defender of humanity's best impulses (even if he, and it, screw up spectacularly from time to time), Pegasus and Cain have reacted to the End Times in a different way. A bugfuck nuts crazy-lady with a hard-on for Big Guns and jilted-lover hate-on for Cylons kind of way. Helena Cain's way. We see how her vision has encouraged the worst in her crew - there's paranoia, hate, violence, murder, rape, and sadism, all wrapped up with medulla oblongata-style bravery. Cain ultimately exits the story, as does the Pegasus.

Razor ties together the story we know with two other tales key to the overall arc.

The first is the story of how Helena Cain and Pegasus survive the War, how Cain responds to surviving, responds to the encroachment of civilization into her command (she shoots it in the forehead), how she responds to the discovery that her lover is a Cylon (with hurt transformed to sadistic hate, which she makes no attempt to control, thereby enabling a process of brutalization in the name of interrogation, a journey that doesn't end well for anyone ), and how she ultimately destroys another life.

The second is a hint of two histories, William Adama's and the Cylon race. The two are tied together, and we get hints of how the Cylons evolved themselves, and how they used humans to do so. Along the way, we get a glimpse of Cylons V 1.0 - the Stupid Ones who came with the Blue Cloaks and the 70s styling. But they're not so stupid, and they're unexpectedly frightening. And we see the first Hybrid - who gives us one of those patented Ron Moore WTF moments we've come to know and love so well.

It all ties together reasonably well, but I found three major weaknesses. The first was the acting ability of Stephanie Jacobson, who plays Pegasus officer Kendra Shaw. She didn't impress me; she seemed to conflate "wooden" with "stillness," for example, rendering her character frustratingly opaque. 

Some of the blame has to go to the writing which created her, but more has to go to the  pacing and editing decisions. And those were not done well, which is my second complaint. NBC decided to leave out some important scenes, apparently planning to put some of them back in for DVD sales. At least some of the excised scenes would have gone a long way to explaining Cain a hell of a lot better than she was in this version...

...leading to the third stumbling block. As well-written as much of this was, it wasn't a masterpiece. It was competent, and sometimes much better than competent, as anything helmed by Moore is. But it didn't have an overall rhythm, and it ignored the character who was supposedly at the heart of the story. The redoubtable Michelle Forbes, who plays Cain, did her best (and some of her best work is in the immediate aftermath of the attacks,) but  the uneven script doesn't give her the space to tell us - with words or without - why she's an uncontrolled, murderous psychopath. The lone stab at illumination comes in two minutes of conversation between William and Lee Adama. Bad, bad timing.

Still, it leaves me hungry for the fourth season, intrigued with plot possibilities, and ready to venture into Moore's universe yet again.

Your mileage may vary.

Tags: bsg, writing

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