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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

Jane Espenson. That name has graced the credits of good television shows ranging from Ellen to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She's not an actor or director, but one of the best television writers out there.

That's why when I sat down to watch the direct to DVD film, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, only to discover that it was a limp clip show that told a predictable, sloppy story that no one needed to see I wasn't just disappointed, I was insulted.

Personal feelings aside, until I saw The Plan I considered Starship Troopers 3 to be the worst film of the century. Now The Plan easily takes that title. I'd rather watch Starship Troopers 3 three more times than see The Plan again.

Let's get this over with quickly.

Functional. The clips from the show were as expected since they were just that, rehashed portions we've already seen. The half of the content that was new was performed functionally, with the exception of the rebels on Caprica. They were convincing and even though we knew what happened and didn't see much of them, I found they were the best part of this movie.

Direction / Editing:
Matching old footage with new material is difficult. They did that adequately but you could tell that several scenes were roughly blocked in by cargo crates or small set pieces piled up to create a backdrop. I also saw some chroma-key work that was so bad that it looked like it was done when the original series was around in the 1970's. That's more of a special effects concern, I realize, but in the scene I'm thinking of there were a number of ways to get around using a green screen entirely, and they should have taken one.

In short, there really wasn't much wrong with the directing but there was absolutely nothing special either. The editing shone for the first 15 minutes of the show and dragged us sloppily from one clip to another for the rest of the film. Considering what they had to work with they may not have had a choice.

Ronald D. Moore is credited as the "developer of the Battlestar Galactica Series". Glen A. Larson is not credited as the creator in the opening credits. Moore can have it. After the thorough job he's done of crapping in the well during the last season of the series and by approving this "film" I don't think the original creator, Glen A. Larson, should want it back. In fact, Glen A. Larson is working with Bryan Singer to develop the series over again, scrapping Ronald D Moore's "Cylon battle for God's favor" version.

Moore didn't write this movie, but Jane Espenson was interweaving her story through a show she wrote with Ronald D Moore, David Eike and a few others. Moore's misguided notion that we want to see science fiction interwoven with religion (remember Star Trek DS-9? He did it there too), is absolutely tangible throughout The Plan.

The Plan is about the continually failing Cylon plots to finish the destruction of the human race from within, using the Cylon models camped inside the fleet to carry out their carefully planned evil schemes. I don't have time to point out all the holes in that concept, but let's wave to at least one.
When a Cylon operative dies within range of a base ship / resurrection ship they are downloaded into a new body. At many points in this story any one of the blundering Cylon operatives could have chucked themselves out of an airlock, or tossed themselves into a big grindy-thing and voila! Rebirth and fresh intel on the location of those darned, pesky humans. Big base ships would have come in and nuked them into oblivion.

There are even bigger holes, but I won't spoil it for you. This is an artfully written clip show with no redeeming entertainment value. Jane Espenson, credited as the only writer on this film, dropped the ball. It's sad, it truly is because the result looks like a desperate money grab as the Battlestar Galactica franchise dwells in rerun heaven.

If this is the type of story we can expect from Caprica (the prequel Battlestar Galactica series coming up some day), and at any moment any of the machines can be expecting to break into dialog about how they just "want God to take them to his bosom" then I won't be wasting my time.

Don't buy it. Don't rent it. Don't even bother stealing it.


[How could you Jane?]

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