Battlestar Galactica: Razor
(NOTE: This review is relatively spoiler-free. I will hint - but not discuss directly - plot points from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR.)
On November 24th, the Sci-Fi Channel will show the first made-for-tv movie version of the revived BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, subtitled "Razor". On November 12th, a select few individuals (including myself) got to see the movie on the big screen.
And I'm here to tell you....you need to see this film, regardless of whether you're a Galactica fan or not. (Plus, an extended version is coming out on DVD on December 4...maybe it's a little too much, but hey - you can never have too much Galactica).
Of all the "revised" franchises, Battlestar Galactica might be the only one that far surpassed the original. The Chariots of the Gods-meets-Flash Gordon vibe of the 70's version is slightly expanded, and with a humanistic philosophy emerging in the shadow of 9/11, BSG has become one of the most sharply written, well-acted shows on television. RAZOR, more than any other film this year, is a meditation on what it means to be human, on the devastating effects of psychological trauma, and how far some people will be willing to go in a crisis.
The movie takes place in the middle of season 2, right after Pegasus and Galactica "reunite". We view events - both the "present day" and after the Cylon attack on Pegasus - through the eyes of Lt. Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen), a "new recruit" on Pegasus. We see events unfold on Pegasus - as well as the first Pegasus mission under Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) - through her eyes. Much of the end results we saw on BSG, but how events turned out the way they did is handled in a clever, and very understated manner. In addition, we view the Galactica characters differently, and the events on Pegasus have a tragic, almost inevitable quality to them - we know things can turn out different, but are still shocked when they happen.
Good example - early on we see Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) working out on her treadmill, and her second-in-command urges her to take a break. However, once he leaves, she begins working out even harder - a great character revealing moment that tells us everything (and there's even more, but that would be a spoiler). Throughout the movie, Cain's push-pull influences several major events, leading to some tragic consequences. We see how the "Gina", a duplicate of Number 6 (Tricia Helfer) ends up being tortured (and we see that, for Cain, the betrayal is personal in more ways than one). Despite these events being "spoiled" in season 2 of Galactica, we now see how events played out, and more importantly, how they are impacting Lee Adama's attempts to command the ship and crew.
To answer the rumors - yes, the "original" Cylons are back, processed voices and all. However, the producers/writers of the movie use it as a major plot point. No, I'm not going to spoil it for you, but let me hint broadly - it's one of the most clever uses of the Cylons, and more than likely, hints at possible future plot points. Also, the digital space travel effects look impressive on a large movie scene, and the Cylon attack on Pegasus is one of the most impressive - and, strangely enough, beautiful CGI sequences ever put to film.
Towards the end, Adama (Edward James Olmos) makes a comment that sums up neatly the differences between Galactica and Pegasus. It also reminds us that the movie is, ultimately, a meditation on what it's like to be human, especially in the 21st century. With all the attention focused on the new Star Trek movie, it's easy to lose focus of the fact that, in many ways, Galactica is surpassing Trek as a storytelling engine. Galactica doesn't give us an idealized future of perfect people, but shows that we, as human beings, in our imperfection, can always strive to do better, to overcome our worst impulses....and that we can survive if we choose to embrace higher qualities.
To summarize, is RAZOR worth watching on November 24th? Yes. Is it worth checking out on DVD on December 4th? Yes. Even if you're not a fan? Yes.
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