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Battlestar Galactica - The Mini Series (DVD)

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Genre: Television - Battlestar Galactica / Theatrical Release: 2003 / Director: Michael Rymer / Actors: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell ... / DVD released 01 March, 2004 at Playback / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      16.07.2011 18:55
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      A wonderful intro to a great T.V show.

      The re-imagined series of the 1970's cult classic Battlestar Galactica was launched in 2003 with this 'mini series'. When this originally aired on T.V I actually watched it but because I was following other T.V shows found that I didn't have time to keep following Battlestar. During the years the show aired it was talked about with so much fervour by fans that I knew someday I'd have to revisit the show. I finally got around to getting the mini series DVD from Amazon recently. It basically plays like one long movie (running at 2hrs and 55 minutes) and should be your first place to start should you also wish to dive into the series.

      You may perhaps remember the original Battlestar Galactica 1970's series. This version is quite different in tone, style and in it's story aspects. The most basic premise of the show is that human beings created a race of robots who then declared war on their creators. The story in the mini series begins forty years after this robot against human war. The robots, called Cylons, have maintained an uneasy peace with the humans but have systematically refused to send any Cylons to any conferences to establish diplomatic relations. The opening scene of the mini series is quite startling. It's easy for viewers to follow the story arc as the basic history is explained in closed captions which flash across the screen as a weary old officer takes his place at a desk in a lonely spaceship. He is there as a duty to meet the Cylons although they have never come to these meetings. Until now. To say the Cylons make a dramatic entrance is an understatement and what happens between man and machine in this encounter is just the beginning of a new battle phase. The Cylons just about wipe out mankind in one deadly move.

      The Battlestar Galactica is the name of the space ship in which a crew of human military and survivors of the latest Cylon attack find refuge and safety. Edward James Olmos plays Captain Adama and I found him to be one of the most striking actors in this mini series. He is strong but flawed, powerful but powerless. Watching the expressions on Olmos's craggy face is a real joy and he portrays an immensely likeable character. Also on Galactica are stand out characters such as Starbuck and Apollo. Starbuck is a tough, crude woman who acts like one of the men. Katee Sackhoff's portrayal is excellent and she puts her all into the performance, genuinely coming over as a very masculine, confident and determined woman. Apollo is Captain Adama's son and he is a rather uptight kind of guy with the reason for this clearly concerning his difficult relationship with his father. This father-son conflict is an interesting plot arc which drives the human aspect of the story.

      Mary McDonnell plays a member of the goverment who suddenly finds herself having to take a commanding role with the survivors. McDonnell is an awesome performer who draws you into every scene with her intense and realistic acting. Other notable performers are James Callis and Tricia Helfer. Helfer is established as one of the Cyclon characters early in the show. Her stature and beauty make it difficult to fathom that she could be machine and as a viewer it's a strange notion to get your head around, but that is the point, I think. Her connection to Callis's character Doctor Baltar reveals that there may be more than simple brutality and a need for warfare when it comes to the Cylons. Are they so thoughtful that they could be considered to have a soul? That question is later posed to Captain Adama by a strange stowaway who enjoys questioning human nature and philosophy. Callum Keith Rennie's disturbing portrayal of a second Cylon model makes us realise that the difference between human beings and these machines is perhaps not as great as we might have thought. Rennie's character Leoben addresses issues of identity, faith, Gods, of human dominance and the rights of any species to exist and to be free. It's these issues that clearly define storylines in the upcoming series.

      I was susrprised at just how intense this mini-series is. I actually felt very moved by some scenes, excited by others. I also laughed a little, surprising given the gravity of the story, and was also highly impressed by the quality of acting. This mini series may not be everyone's cup of tea - it's outer space sci-fi with lots of CGI space ships and lots of scenes of space battles. However, the characters are so well established here that the story feels so human and real. It's very easy to feel part of the action and to want to know what happens next. I have already started watching the first series and I would heartily recommend this as one of the great television events of recent years.

      The DVD is available in a region 2/4 coding. It's 2 hours and 55 minutes long and there is scene access. The disc also contains a behind the scenes making of documentary which I found enjoyable. It is certificate twelve.

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      25.04.2011 19:04
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      A gripping beginning to the BG series

      This DVD refers to the remake of the original 1970's Battlestar Galactica series which began again in 2004. I had heard really good things about this series; particularly as when I dismissed it as 'I don't like Sci-fi', people have fallen over themselves to tell me that whilst I might think that, this might change my mind.

      So when it was announced that along with series such as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, BG would be shown from the beginning on new channel Sky Atlantic, I was really intrigued. However, when we came to sit and watch the aforementioned 'first' episode from the number stored on our Sky + box (Sky Atlantic are currently showing 2 episodes a week which means that they mount up really quickly!), we were a bit surprised and confused. Firstly, there were "Previously on BG" clips and when the action actually started we could not understand what was going on.

      On further research, (thank you Wikipedia), we discovered that Series 1 started with a 3 hour miniseries/pilot, which for some reason Sky had decided not to show in advance of the rerun (as far as we were aware). And so, we had to track down just this miniseries, which fortunately is available for around £3.99 from sites like Amazon, exclusive of the pricier whole series boxsets.

      Please note that whilst you there is a certain amount of flexibility for scene selection with this disc, it is meant to be played like a 3 hour episode - all in one go. Although the transfer to DVD has not edited out some slightly annoying 'fade to black' moments where there was obviously a commercial break in the transmitted version.

      There is also a 20 minute mini documentary under 'bonus' where the premise is set up and views are given by the cast. This is inoffensive enough but does not really go into any depth, forming more of a fluff piece to be honest.

      The premise is this - some years previous to the advent of the city, humans had embraced Artificial Intelligence in such a way that they created a robot race named the Cylons to serve them. However, these became so advanced that in time they turned on their human creators leading to all-out war between the two 'species.' Eventually, an armistice was called between the two sides and the Cylons disappeared to create their own worlds elsewhere.

      Nothing had been heard from the Cylons until now 40 years later when a sudden and brutal attack takes place on the human home planet of Caprica all but destroying all but a few of its population. Simultaneously, the last remaining fighter space station from the war or 'Battlestar' Galactica is floating around in the ether somewhere above Caprica. As the 40th anniversary of this end of the battle is met it is decided that Battlestar Galactica will be decommissioned and is on its way to its home planet when it receives news of the attack.

      The ship quickly decides to fight fire with fire, whilst rescuing and saving as many people as it can. However, it quickly becomes apparently that the Cylons have spent their time away evolving into an almost infinitely more complex species and are a far more formidable opponent than they have been previously.

      Throw into this some intriguing characters, including a seemingly sociopathic vixen who presents as a human but acts like something else entirely, a playboy scientist and well respected academic who has made some fatal decisions, culpable amounts of sexual and family tension amongst the Battlestar crew and you have the premise for an intriguing story.

      Like I said previously, I am not a Sci-fi fan and find some of the concepts that are created in this genre hard to grasp, so excuse me if you are familiar with the show and my synopsis is perhaps not as it should be. However, I did find it relatively straightforward to follow without it being simple or basic.

      It is pretty much done with a straight face and is not as campy as some sci-fi shows and films I have seen in the past, with the exclusion of the character of the aforementioned scientist. The special effects are also really good, largely CGI of course but they feel totally appropriate in their context without taking away from the main story.

      Sustaining the premise over a three hour period is quite tricky but it is managed surprisingly well - weaving just the right amount of action and story and character development to get you engaged. By taking its time over it, you do not feel hurried and can see things develop more naturally than if they were desperately trying to shove it all into a one hour pilot to keep you tuned in for the next episode.

      It also has a surprisingly adult tone to it, with some quite brutal violence and some surprisingly raunchy sexual moments (which I think are actually a bit explicit for the 12 certificate this particular DVD has been given.)

      In conclusion, i think that this mini-series is very entertaining and has certainly got me intrigued for starting to watch the series good and proper. I am really interested to see how the story and characters develop and already feel as though I have something invested in it. So despite my earlier grumbles, I think having this 3 hour introduction has been a good thing, as it has forced me to concentrate and perhaps have a little more concentration on what is within it in order to embrace it as enjoyable entertainment in a genre that I am not overly familiar with or have any great affection for.

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        18.05.2010 01:09
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        Storytelling at it's best

        In 2003, the US cable network Sci-Fi launched it's reimagined vision of the 70's show Battlestar Galactica. Helmed by Star Trek alumni Ronald D. Moore, it was a show steeped in the dark reality in which the US faced post 9/11. Over the next five years it picked up countless awards and while never truly gaining the audience it deserved, those who did find it and stick with were rewarded with one of the most original, thought provoking televison series seen. It is perhaps no surprise to see this version continually included in best of lists.

        The mini series kicks it all off. Lasting close to 4 hours, it was produced without any knowledge that there would be a series to continue so it is a self contained story. It begins 40 years after the end of the first Human-Cylon war. No one has seen from the former robotic servants of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol in that time. The Battlestar Galactica,a relic of that first war is about to be retired and transformed into a museum dedicated to the war. Her Commander, Adama played Miami Vice and Blade Runner star Edward James Olmos, is himself nearing the end of his service. On board as a guest of honor to oversee Galactica's entry into retirement and conversion to museum is the Secretary of Education Laura Roslin played byOscar nominated actor Mary McDonnell. The first scene between the old soldior and the ex school teacher sets not only the tone for their relationship but in refusing to allow the Galactica's computers to be networked, he saves the ship from the fate that will befall so many others. Even in the ships supposed last few hours of service, he will not allow the lessons of the past to be forgotten.

        So the inevitable happens, the Cylons return and annhilate almost the entire fleet save for Galactica, and nuke the tweleve colonies. Only a few thousand are able to escape on battered ships that will become the rag tag fleet. And so begins a five year journey that will involve twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.

        The cast fronted by the aforementioned 2 actors is abley supported by a number of newcomers such as Jamie Bamber (Law & Order:UK, Hornblower) and Katee Sackhoff(24 Day 8) and also old genre actors such as Michael Hogan. Perhaps the best kept secret is the performance of James Callis in the role of Gauis Baltar whose persona will endure the second greatest change in the show.

        The stories and dialogue are as taut and tension filled as anything seen on TV or the big screen for quite a while. But one word of warning, these stories are certainly dark. It deals with genocide and the actions of survivors in an unflinching way that unlike it's 1970's counterpart does not involve finding the nearest casino planet and having a singalong. The Special FX while not blockbuster standard are more than good enough to entertain.

        Personally speaking, I rate this along with 'The Wire' and 'Band of Brothers' as what TV should be. That's fairly high company I know, but I think if it wasn't for the fact it is sci-fi or the links to it's past incarnation, then I woulnd't be the only one saying. Get it watched.

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        28.09.2009 14:04
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        Quality sf.

        The miniseries was made in 2003 and is a re-imagining of the 1978 tv series. There are a further five series after this, Seasons 1-4 and The Final Season (really the conclusion of Season 4). There is also a feature length tv movie called Razor, which is an introduction to Season 4.

        The three hour miniseries is a necessary introduction to all these and at £4.98 on Amazon is worthwhile buying as a taster to see if you're interested in the new Battlestar Galactica. However, it is also included in Season 1-4 boxed set which currently works out much better value than buying the seasons separately. (It also includes Razor). You would still need to buy The Final Season, but it still works out cheaper than buying the limited edition complete set which has everything in it.

        The miniseries crams in a lot of necessary history. Humanity has created a robot race called the Cylons, who then turned on their makers. Forty years after their final battle with the Cylons the crew of Battlestar Galactica are decommissioning their ship ready for it to be turned into a tourist attraction. No-one has seen the Cylons since an armistice was arranged, and they have now developed and taken on human form allowing them to send spies.

        Unaware of the danger in their midst the human Colonies of Kobol are unprepared for the sudden and deadly attack of the Cylons. However the Galactica is uniquely placed to defend itself against the Cylons as it has kept technology as basic as possible, for instance by avoiding having a computer network, making it more difficult for the Cylons to wipe out their systems. The human race are reduced to a fleet of fighters and fifty thousand refugees. They are faced with a decision. Do they stay and fight and risk their race being wiped out, or do they flee in search of refuge on the mythical planet Earth?

        Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) is the grizzled commander of the Galactica, who fought off the Cylons the first time around, and is now faced with an unexpected new battle. He is a saddened man, after the loss of one of his sons, and the estrangement of his other son, Lee, who blames him. He's an interesting and likeable character who doesn't always get it right, but tries.

        Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan) is his second in command, also a veteran of the first war, but too reliant on alcohol, and with an uncontrollable temper. He's an extremely flawed character.

        Captain Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), the son of Commander Adama, has only just arrived on Galactica after not seeing his father for two years. The two have an uneasy relationship and find it hard to work together, but find themselves having to whether they like it or not. Lee is also known by his call sign, Apollo. He is an excellent pilot and is very much the handsome hero, although he is stubborn and unforgiving at times.

        Lt Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) is an old friend of Lee Adama and knew his dead brother. They have a strong relationship although it doesn't seem to be romantic. Kara smokes cigars and is as tough as any of the men around her although she is inclined to be reckless and defiant. She is also an excellent pilot, with the call sign 'Starbuck', although she has a tendency to show off. She has a volatile working relationship with Colonel Tigh who is a stickler for protocol and is always on her back for insubordination.

        Laura Roslin (Mary MacDonell) is the education chief who suddenly finds herself promoted to president of the colonies after the death of the president in the Cylon attack. She is in conflict with Commander Adama whose first priority is to fight, whilst her first priority is to rescue as many people as possible.

        Gaius Balta (James Callis) is the computer genius who designed the defence systems. He's an ambiguous amoral character and it's hard to work out whose side he is really on.

        Number Six (Tracy Helfer) is a sultry looking Cylon spy, and girlfriend of Gaius whose aim is the infiltration and destruction of the human race. However she seems to be confused by her love for Gaius.

        These are the main characters and they're all well drawn and plausibly flawed. Unlike the well behaved characters in the Star Trek series they are given to bad tempered behavior, alcoholism, arrogance and sexism. It's a hard, gutsy science fiction universe which, rather than being set in a futuristic Utopia, is set in a time of war, where there are conflicting decisions about how to deal with the enemy. Space battles are played out to an ominous drumbeat rather than the soaring operatic music that we've heard so often before. Special effects are good, with some exellent battle scenes. Ships have a battered look about them in places, and crew quarters are far from the luxury accommodation we usually see on the Enterprise. As you might expect on a real ship, men and women share communal washrooms and sleep in bunks.

        I haven't seen the original series of this, so had no idea what to expect. However, I soon found myself gripped by the story and interested in the characters. The miniseries does need to cram a lot in, so the one drawback is it's economy on storytelling. One minute you see a ship adrift in space hoping for rescue, the next moment it's on board another ship safe and sound, without much explanation of how it got there, so you really need to pay attention or lose track of what's going on. It's a good start to the series though, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.

        Running time: 175 minutes
        Director: Michael Rymer
        Classification: 12

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          12.06.2009 11:31
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          A revolutionary show that remains unforgettable throughout

          What a fantastic introduction to what would become one of the best television shows of all time. Everything related to the "Battlestar Galactica" universe is comprehensibly portrayed and this sets the perfect stepping stone for the franchise to come. The Mini Series starts with the end of humanity - humans have created what are known as "Cylons," which were originally built for the convenience of the human race. It is not long before the super-intelligent Cylons to think for themselves and rebel against their masters. They launch an all-out nuclear attack against the Twelve Colonies. Only around 50,000 people are saved and Laura Roslin, the former secretary of education ends up taking over the role as President of the Colonies. This is all very fascinating - all the new concepts are easy to grasp and it doesn't take long until you become utterly hooked to the original concept of the show. The wide range of characters is also another fantastic aspect of the show. We get a rebellious, but brave and strong Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, a firm, intelligent commander Adama, his son Lee "Apollo" Adama, the sexy, smooth-talking Cylon model Number Six, an odd but brilliantly funny genius Dr. Gaius Baltar, and the list goes on and on. Even from an early stage of this series, these various characters are solidly established, immediately getting ready for something big. This is not your usual sci-fi drama. The battle sequences are not all covered in laser beams and tacky mega-weapons, they fire actual bullets and the computer graphics (when they're used) are fantastic. The plot digs deep into theological and philosophical issues that include love, war, hate, ethics, freedom, oppression, religion and faith, which just goes to show how brilliant the writing is. The script remains engaging and never is it too pretentious and complicated for us to fully understand.

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            08.02.2009 19:12
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            An unbelievable revamp of a terrible old series

            The original Battlestar Galactica was a cheaply made, the reuse of space fight scenes got to be very monotonous for example, but kind of fun TV cash in on the Star Wars phenomena. Fondly remembered for all the wrong reasons it certainly would have not been amongst the series I would have envisioned being re-imagined for the 21st Century. I have continually heard good things about the series but never really had the impetus to actually watch it, though not having Sky certainly didn't help!
            Then a friend lent me the mini series and I had it on my 'to watch' shelf for a while before finally deciding I was in the mood for a good bit of sci fi, at three hours long the mini series is a long watch... question is is it worth it?

            The setting is another galaxy far far away. Humankind has twelve colonies and after a war many years ago with The Cylons peace has existed throughout them.
            The Cylons were created by man but eventually rebelled against their masters and after a fragile peace was formed they left the solar system to find their own home.

            Nothing had been heard of them for many years, and the human race had thought them long gone. They were wrong... The Cylons are back and not only are thoughts of conquest are still foremost in their mind but they have discovered a way to make twelve human like Cylon models, Cylons who have infiltrated the 12 colonies already, in preparation for the restart of hostilities.

            When the attack comes will the Colonies be able to fight back and what part will the decommissioned Battlestar named Galactica play in the war?

            The mini series that reintroduced BG to the modern TV viewing public is a terrific example of top quality science fiction and is the perfect set up for the series to follow it.
            It sets the tone and the overall plotline for the story arc to come without coming across as a massive 'let's introduce everyone and pack too much into it' double episode, which happens far to often.
            The fact that this mini series is 3 hours long helps a hell of a lot. It means that things can develop and build slowly rather than being rushed. In fact the wait for the first battle scene takes a long time to come, you just don't realise while watching it.

            Where BG excels though is in the characters, the normal group dynamics are there, all the usual types you would expect to see are still around. This time around though some of them have some nice little twists to them that dig into you and root around in your brain as you try to work things out. The knowledge that there are 12 Cylon humanoids, infiltrated into society means that you are always wondering... are they one?

            Back to the space battles... Babylon 5's use of CGI really turned sci fi on its head in that respect. It made the space battles look incredible. BG though makes B5 look basic and amateurish in comparison. Such is the advance in CGI since those days that you don't look at the space combat scenes and want them to end so you can get back to more realistic stuff.

            For me though, as good as the battles are, it is the story and, more importantly, the characters that will make me come back and beg, steal or borrow the first series.
            There is Balthar, the brains with a dark secret; Starbuck the quick tempered , hot shot pilot; Adama the aging commander of the Galactica and Laura Roshin the education secretary who becomes president by default.
            Not only are these characters all able to hold your attention to the screen but they are only a small number of the important characters in the show. Every character that gets screen time more than a walk on seems to have something important to say or do in the story. Even more so when you also factor in the fact that any one of them could possibly be a Cylon. This fact alone makes BG a series that, if written as well as this, can only go from strength to strength.
            These and many many more things make BG a must see TV show that is not only one of the best science fiction shows made (well going by this mini series) but also one of the best character driven shows as well.

            The first series is going to be on my rental list very very soon, as it should for anyone who loves good solid action and character based TV.

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              05.10.2008 17:57
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              The greatest piece of TV I've seen for absolutely ages.

              Like many other reviewers, I remember Battlestar Galactica as a faded 70's rip-off of Star Wars. I never imagined that a new version would make me want to revisit a series that that was just 'OK'. The new series would have to be totally different and really will me to watch it, otherwise it would be seen as a bit of a chore.

              I watched the mini-series first, and it totally blew me away. Gone are the lycra-clad dico-inspired characters from before. Here is a brash, young looking, ultra realistic update. It looks fantastic and grabs you by the balls from episode one and won't let go. And it just gets better and better.

              Why is it so good? Firstly its the storyline and the writing. Caprica, humanity's new home for as long as people can remember is destroyed by an evil race of androids, The 'Cylons'. The Cylons are robots that humans created and who they fought a war against 50 years previously. They return in this pilot episode and promptly nuke it back to the stone age. The Cylons now look like humans and have integrated themselves into the world.

              The Battlestar Galactica, one of the oldest ships in the fleet is seen to be the only ship that survives. Along with a small fleet of ships they are what is left of human life. 40,000 or so people left. The mythical 'Earth' is their destination, but before they can get there they must unravel the mystery of the cylons, who are they and are they amongst them?

              This is the one major question that haunts the show. The paranoia that the characters feel throughout the 4 seasons is what holds it all together and is both griping, and addictive.

              The special effects are also the best I've ever seen for a sci-fi TV show. The whole series is filmed in such a way that it brings you right into the characters faces and really brings a gritty realism to the whole thing.

              The acting and casting is also superb. Captain Adama, played brilliantly by Edward James Olmos is the father figure of the show. His leadership as their existance crumbles is what holds the whole thing together - its a great performance. Other notable acting roles are James Callis as the brilliant Dr Gaius Baltar, a man haunted by his involvement in the destruction of humanity. And also Mary McDonnell, the school teacher who finds herself promoted to president of the colonies.

              If you haven't been introduced to the show yet, it will have you hooked from the first moment. By far the best sci-fi of the past 25 years without a doubt.

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                09.07.2008 15:05
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                A reinvention of Battlestar Galactica

                Battlestar Galactica was first seen on our screens in 1978, that series lasted only one season. In 2003 the Battlestar Galactica mini series began the reimaging of the franchise which was to be followed by the popular and successful TV sow on our screens today.

                ***Plot***
                Set in an unknown time and area of space, the civilisation of man is spread across the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. The Cylons, a cybernetic civilization, were created by man and at some point in time they rebelled against their makers and war broke out. Many died on both sides until a truce was called, the Cylons left for a different part of space, remaining apart from their makers. In the present, 40 years after their last meeting, humans and Cylons meet again. This time, the Cylons strike the 12 colonies with devastating force, destroying all of mankind. The series focuses on the crew of the soon to be decommissioned Battlestar Galactica.

                ***Characters***
                - Commander William 'Bill' Adama, the man in charge of Galactica and father to Lee Adama
                - Laura Roslin, the Secretary of Education and cancer sufferer finds herself forced into the role of President of the colonies
                - Lee Adama, call sign Apollo and son of Commander Adama. A Viper pilot who has become estranged from his father following the death of his brother
                - Kara Thrace, call sign Starbuck. A brilliant viper pilot with a terrible attitude
                - Gauis Baltar, a selfish man who is partly responsible for the destruction of the twelve colonies because of his association with the number 6 cylon
                - Sharon Valerii, call sign Boomer is a raptor pilot romantically involved with chief petty officer Tyrol
                - Colonel Soul Tigh is the second in command of Galactica

                ***The Cylons***
                Having previously, in both the original series and the fictional first war, been seen only as robotic machines, the mini series introduces the Cyclons in human form. In every sense they appear human except that they are capable of being 'reborn' with their memories intact, upon their deaths. This means that the surviving members of mankind could have Cylons infiltrating their ships.

                ***My Opinion***
                Having never watched the original series of Battlestar Galactica I was unfamiliar with the premise and franchise when I first picked up a copy of this mini series. This had little effect on my understanding and enjoying the series. Battlestar Galactica is one of the best sci-fi programmes I've ever seen, and I'm quite a fan of the genre. The mini series is a brilliant introduction to the series or as a stand alone programme to watch. However I guarantee that after you've watched it you'll be looking for season 1 of the show to watch. Full of surprises, brilliantly acted and with some amazing special effects this show is a must see for any science fiction fan.

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                  02.07.2008 12:08
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                  A fantastic storyline perfectly acted and prefectly scripted

                  Like most of my DVD purchases I bought Battlestar Galactica simply because Jamie Bamber was in it. Once again however I am so pleased that my somewhat fickle way of choosing DVD's has paid off, as Battlestar Galactica is now a firm favourite of mine.

                  Battlestar is in a short an aircraft carrier in the sky. It is battered; battle hardened and seems to be somewhat back in the dark ages. It is this however that helped it survive the last Cylon war. The war long over the ship however is designated to be retired and turned into a museum, as is its commander, William Adama, although he is not set to become a visitor attraction. On the day of the ships retirement celebrations everything seems to be going according to plan, the flight decks are clear, the gift shop and static displays are all set and Chief Tyrol and his deck hand gang have found a restored the Commander's first viper. The Commanders son Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama has also arrived onboard ready to participate in the flypast.

                  The celebrations do go perfectly as planned, the flypast is executed well and the Commander makes a touching speech, partly dedicated to his Lee and his other son now deceased Zak, although he never says this. As everyone returns back to their own ships however things take a dramatic downward turn when the fleet receives a message from the Cylons, they are attacking and the Galactica and the rest of the fleet must now prepare for war.

                  The rest of the mini-series follows the crew's actions as they re-arm and get back into the fight they thought was long over. As "Apollo" and Lieutenant Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, Zak's fiancé before his death, are reunited after two years it becomes apparent that the disaster that Lee's problems with his father have not blown over and that the situation is as volatile as ever. The father and son Adama team must however learn to work together as a team and they must learn fast.

                  Elsewhere the Colonial Fleet is torn apart by constant Cylon raids and as te casualty numbers increases and key figures become deceased it is left to other unsuspecting individuals to take the helm and convince everyone that to survive they must fight and that they must fight together as a united front.

                  As you can see Battlestar Galactica is a science fiction programme but to me it has so many other levels. The sci-fi Cylon battle is of course central to the drama and what surges the show forward but the relationships between crewmembers and the internal stories that these bring forward give the show a spark. Although the story can be at times difficult to follow due to it's science fiction nature these side stories help to draw in the audience and hammer home sometimes important values.

                  The acting on the whole is extremely good Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama radiates authority in everything he does from the way he speaks to the way he walks. Furthermore he highlights brilliantly the scars of a battle hardened man that has sacrificed so much for the cause and will continue to sacrifice more if that's what it will take for the human race to survive.

                  Mary McDonnell is another superb casting choice as Laura Roslin, Education Secretary later President, as she seems more than suited to her part. She shows the stresses and strains of her situation yet manages at the same time to show a woman in control of her responsibility able to show both soft and subtler sides as well as hold her position of authority.

                  Jamie Bamber as Apollo and Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck are also fantastically cast in their roles. Both seem incredibly comfortable in their environments and manage with conviction to show their officer prowess as well as their somewhat less than smooth pasts. More importantly they spark brilliantly off one another allowing te audience to peek inside their armour and see the real people within. The way they contrast and compliment one another when necessary, integral to later series, brings tension and drama as well as a much-needed lighter and sometimes humorous element to the show.

                  "Starbuck: I thought you were dead.
                  Apollo: Well, I thought you were in hack.
                  Starbuck: It's - it's good to be wrong.
                  Apollo: Well, you should be used to it by now.
                  Starbuck: Everyone has a skill."

                  Apollo's relationship with his father is also a major part of this and subsequent series and again Olmos and Bamber prove they have the ability to show the many sides, twists and turns to this relationship from the very start.

                  Other notable performances come from Grace Park as Lt Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, Aaron Douglas as "Chief" Petty Officer Galen Tyrol and Michael Hogan as the frequently drunk XO Colonel Saul Tigh.

                  On the main the graphics in this series are very good. The CGI Cylon raiders, raptors and Vipers move in a reasonably realistic way and the in-cockpit shot make the entire situations seem more believable and bring the audience closer to the action. Explosion and firefight scenes are also dealt with more than adequately.

                  Despite this the picture quality is on some occasions less than great, probably due to the low budget of production. This means that darker scenes can seem rather grained although brighter scenes are generally relatively crisp. The overall effect of the show is therefore not downgraded by these odd poor shots.

                  All in all Battlestar Galactica is a series I would highly recommend. Despite the odd mention of the original Battlestar series this new series is entirely different and so should be viewed as such. I know some hardcore Battlestar fans will disagree agree with me, quoting the fact that "Starbuck" is a girl in this series and that other features of the original have been altered or removed, I have to say that for me this series is brilliant and works extremely well. For this reason, even with the odd grained shot, I have to give the show 5/5.

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                    20.05.2008 14:01
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                    Battlestar Galactica (2003) - the revamped miniseries

                    When I was a kid, I remember watching Battlestar Galactica, the sci-fi TV series and film about a colony in space defending themselves against robot aliens the Cylons. I can't remember what channel or what day it was on, but I remember vividly the film, with Lorne Greene playing Admiral Adama, and Face from the A-Team (as I knew him!) playing Starbuck, the best fighter pilot, with Adama's son, Apollo, and Starbuck's mate Boomer being the other two fighter pilot characters. They fought against the Ceylon empire, alien robots attacking civilisation.

                    Fast forward 30 years or so, and Battlestar Galactica gets a revamp, with a few changes and a more modern feel in TV series format, with some successful seasons under its belt. The revamped Battlestar Galactica started with this mini series, which follows the story before the start of the first series of the modern programme. It was released in 2003, and stars the cast of the TV series. At nearly 3 hours, it is a must for fans of the series, and for those who haven't seen the series, watch it anyway: it's quite good.

                    The Plot

                    Years ago, humans created the Cylons, robots that could fuunction for themselves. War was the result, with the Cylons fighting their creators. Believing the war to be over, Admiral Adama is preparing to stand down as commander of the fleet, when a sudden attack wipes out virtually the entire human race, leaving the fleet and some civilian vessels stranded in space. Faced with the distinct possibility that the Cylons are back and are better, Adama and the authorities must make a decision between them whether to fight or flee, and both decisions will involve more casualties and suspense, particularly now the Cylons have evolved to human form!

                    The Cast and Performances

                    There are a few changes in personnel aboard the Battlestar Glactica, which I will discuss further on, but for now, I will comment merely on the performances of the actors in their roles as they stand. Admiral Adama is played very well by Edward James Almos. He is a very convincing Admiral, and fills the big boots of the character made famous by Lorne Greene very well. Mary McDonnell plays President Laura Roslin, sworn into office in the midst of the crisis and forced to make quick decisions whilst trying to come to terms with her own physical being.

                    Brit Jamie Bamber gives a good turn as Adama's son, codename Apollo, as do Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck and Grace Park as Boomer. James Callis, another Brit, plays Gaius Baltar, scientist whose analysis of the Galactica's defence systems are in the fore of the plot, and Tricia Helfer is incredibly sexy and very very dangerous as Number Six, the Cylon in human form throughout the film.

                    There are some further good performances, most notably Michael Hogan as Colonel Tigh, Adama's number 2. The cast all do very well in what looks like becoming a cult-status film for the TV series.

                    My Opinion

                    I have not seen the TV series, and I guess the first thing to say is that, after watching the film, I really do want to watch it. The film does very well in creating a good plot, believable characters and excellent mood and settings. Almos is excellent as Adama, and commands the screen as well as the Galactica. Director Michael Rymer has done very well in controlling such a tricky piece to end up with 3 hours of convincing entertainment.

                    Although I did enjoy the miniseries, released on DVD as essentially a long film, I do have a criticism and it involves the characterisation. In the past, Starbuck and Boomer were men, and the producers and writers have for some reason seen fit to portray them here as women. I am unsure why, and I found it took a while to try and get used to this whilst watching. I still find it weird now: why change?

                    Although I found this unnecessary, it is still a very well made film which makes me want to watch the series, and no doubt I will do very soon. The miniseries' popularity is the reason behind the decision to make a proper TV series of the show, and hopefully the good work has continued through.

                    Conclusion

                    Interesting change of characters, but a very well revamped Battlestar Galactica.

                    The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk from £9.50.

                    This review may also be posted on ciao.co.uk.

                    Thanks for reading.

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                      03.05.2008 09:49
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                      The return of a classic sci-fi series

                      Back in 2003 I was neither inclined nor interested enough to watch Battlestar Galactica when it returned to TV screens. Over the following 5 years I have been even less inclined, then as if by magic I caught a glimpse of something written on a website that struck me as being so dark, I absolutely knew that Battlestar Galactica and I could no longer be parted.

                      Like a good person I started at the very beginning, back in 2003 with this DVD the mini-series. The Sci-Fi channel have limited funds so launching a mini-series first was a good way of testing whether 25 years from the original series if the show would still be as popular, Sky Television are testing the same this autumn with the two part mini-series Blakes 7. Although originally shown as a two part story, for DVD releases the two episodes have been merged into what appears to be one feature length movie.

                      The story behind the mini-series is itself quite dark, Cylons an army of robot servants work faithfully for their human creators, until one day and almost in unison they all snapped turning on their owners and starting a war. Out of nowhere the Cylons abandoned their war with the humans and headed off into deep space. The humans offered a floating space station in a neutral zone in which should Cylon and human wish to meet up and discuss matters they could. For 40 years nothing has happened......Until now.

                      On the Battlestar Galactica a giant floating warship not used for war for many years Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) is preparing for his retirement, having served faithfully for the colonial forces since the Cylon war it is time for him to step down and allow for a new generation of Commander. Adama's retirement is drawn to a sudden end when suddenly the worlds that supported the humans find themselves under nuclear attack, and entire populations are wiped out. To add to the problems the fleet of warships the humans own are barely armed, and seemingly disabled by something prior to coming into contact with the incoming Cylon forces. In 40 years of peace the human forces are not prepared for battle, and complete annihilation by Cylon forces seems inevitable.

                      Battlestar Galactica is as I mentioned earlier a remake of a one season TV show from 1978, the show back in its day was unappreciated despite an abundance of tie in products, from toys to sticker books. A year after the show was ended they tried again with Galactica 1980 in which the human soldiers finally found Earth in 1980, and showed how they coped with earth and the Cylon forces that had followed them. About 5 or 6 years after the show was axed however it suddenly developed a cult audience, countries that had never seen the show were practically given it, and during the same period the thirst for science fiction shows had virtually dried up. Nobody ever expected the show to return, and it became effectively a cult classic.

                      In 2002 Ronald D. Moore and Christopher Eric James approached low budget cable TV outfit the Sci-Fi Channel with their highly ambitious plans to pump life into a long considered dead show. While Battlestar Galactica was seen as a re-make its writers preferred to call it a re-imagining of the original show. With surprisingly little resistance and original creator Glen A. Larson onboard the Sci-Fi channel commissioned a mini-series as a trial of the show. Now 5 years on, Battlestar Galactica is about to come to an end, not because of lack of popularity but because the show's creators want to end the show on a high, before they run out of ideas or viewer figures drop.

                      No onto the guts of the piece, I unexpectedly enjoyed the mini-series I found it fascinating, action packed, and incredibly dark. On more than one occasion I literally had to stop thinking and look on at what transpired on my screen. Now I don't want to persuade anyone that there are any major surprises in Galactica, it's actually fairly bulk standard stuff that's pretty predictable. However it's the fate of secondary roles that leaves you a little cold. When President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) meets a young girl, she promises her that everything will be alright; but minutes later Roslin is forced to escape a Cylon attack leaving the girl to a certain death, the girl seen carefree playing with her doll as nuclear warheads hit the space vessel she is in.

                      The cast is great Edward James Olmos a strong but underused actor takes the leading role as Commander Adama a role originally played by Lorne Greene. Mary McDonnell begins the show as a distressed Laura Roslin, having received some very bad news; this secretary of education finds herself politically elevated 43 levels to that of President of the Colonials, an hour into this 3 hour offering. Originally played by Dirk Benedict who most will know as Face from the A-Team, Starbuck changes sex and becomes a woman played by Katee Sackoff. While the character of Apollo (who is also Adama's son) originally played by Richard Hatch goes to Brit Jamie Bamber who moved from the z-list on shows like Hornblower, to the a-list overnight. Bridget Jones best male mate Tom (James Callis) turns up as Dr. Gaius Baltar, a man haunted by his past having just discovered prior to the annihilation of everyone he knew that his lover was in fact a Cylon played by Tricia Helfer now known as Number 6. But my favourite character is the sinisterly at odds character of Colonel Tigh played by Michael Hogan, Tigh is Adama's right hand man and it was a little snippet that I read on this character that inspired me to watch the show after so many years.

                      The Cylons have changed much from the original series, back then they were robots that bore more than a striking resemblance to Doctor Who's Cybermen. But now in this re-imagining they not only have their robot exterior, they can also look very much like humans too. Although this mini-series leaves you a little in the dark as to whether the human looking Cyclons are clones or advance robots, it's just never quite made clear. I'm sure as I progress through the series I'll have this little fact cleared up.

                      There are a few references to the original show, the arrival of some old technology on the Galactica in the shape of the fighter ships that were used in the original series now effectively referred to as Antiques. The other reference comes in the shape of the original music from the shows first incarnation, not as the main theme but in an aerial display to celebrate the impending retirement of Commander Adama.

                      Battlestar Galactica is not without fault, the picture quality on this mini-series is varied, from highly glossy to occasionally grainy in its imagery, the darker the picture the grainier the imagery; I assume a problem cause by using poor quality technology. As a story there are no surprises a few big shocks would have been appreciated, although there is a final moment as the credits begin to roll that makes you think oh! On the whole however I'm pleased I chose to wait before watching Battlestar Galactica, because it has left me with a thirst to watch the other episodes as soon as a possibly can.

                      Special Features:

                      The Low Down: This 45 minute documentary follows the cast and crew on a journey as they prepare for filming, and beyond filming. The characters talk about their fears, what if the show fails? While the crew talk in detail about the changes in the show from the original. This is what in my mind is a special feature on a DVD should be, it's a very honest piece that is not just geared at sales of the show. All the shows principle people get a chance to tell you about their views on the show, and how (if they did) they enjoyed working with each other.

                      This Mini-Series is now available at the bargain price of £4.99 from pretty much everywhere.

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                        09.04.2008 00:23

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                        Great for any Sci Fi fan

                        I remember when i was young i used to watch the Battlestar Galactica series from the 70s, and i loved it. I was like star wars only it was on the telly. I didn't see them all, but i liked it all the same. When i heard there was a remake i didn't really pay it much attention, believing it would just be like all other greats remade. However i was really pleased when i gave this a watch.

                        The story is that of a distant civilisation who created A.I. machives called the Cyclons, and had them turn on them. After 20 years since the machines turned, their back and blowing everything up.

                        This show works so well because its realistic. The people act as you think they would in the real situation, rather then the glossy fakeness of most shows.

                        They have changed much from the original, but i like it. Rather then just making it the same with new fancy graphics, its a different story. Something new to get into.

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                        27.09.2007 19:41
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                        A Battlestar Galactica for the 21st century

                        Battlestar Galactica – The Miniseries (2003)

                        Certificate: 12 (UK), TV-14 (USA)
                        Running time: 175 minutes

                        Main cast:
                        Edward James Olmos – Commander William Adama
                        Mary McDonnell – President Laura Roslin
                        Katee Sackhoff – Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
                        Jamie Bamber – Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama
                        Grace Park – Lieutenant Sharon “Boomer” Valerii
                        James Callis – Dr Gaius Baltar
                        Tricia Helfer – Number 6


                        The Cylons were created by Man.
                        They were created to make life easier on the Twelve Colonies.
                        And then the day came when the Cylons decided to kill their masters.
                        After a long and bloody struggle, an armistice was declared.
                        The Cylons left for another world to call their own.
                        A remote space station was built...
                        ...where Cylon and Human could meet and maintain diplomatic relations.
                        Every year, the Colonials send an officer.
                        The Cylons send no one.
                        No one has seen or heard from the Cylons in over forty years.


                        For a show that only ran for one season (1978-79), the original “Battlestar Galactica” left a huge legacy. Coming so soon after the success of “Star Wars”, it rapidly developed a cult following and fan base that almost rivalled that of “Doctor Who”, a vast array of merchandising, and a popularity amongst sci-fi fans that was truly impressive for a show that comprised just a pilot and 17 episodes (or 24 episodes, depending on how you view it). There was a brief revival with "Battlestar Galactica 1980", but the show never got properly up and running again. For my own part, I can remember watching re-runs in the 1980s as a small child and thoroughly enjoying them, which is perhaps why I felt distinct misgivings when I heard that a new miniseries was being filmed by Universal Studios in 2003. There have been numerous remakes of classic films and TV programmes over recent years that have proved to be inadequate – remakes for the sake of remakes – and I was fully prepared to hate this effort at retelling the Battlestar story. Thankfully, however, what we got was a loving-made and smartly written version of the classic series, updated to become more relevant to a 21st century audience, whilst also paying homage to many aspects of the 1978 series. Not all of the changes have worked, but on the whole this miniseries – a 175 minute TV film originally shown in 2 parts, intended as a pilot to series 1 – is well worth watching, whether you have seen the original show or not.

                        The Galactica universe is set around the Twelve Colonies of Man, a dozen planets where humans have built up civilisation after leaving their original home world of Kobol. Having mastered the art of space travel, the colonists thought themselves to be clever, and set about building a sub-class of servile robots that they named Cylons, presumably intended to fight their wars for them, judging by their menacing appearance and the deadly efficiency with which they use weapons. However, the old chestnut of the human invention becoming too smart for humanity’s own good comes into play: the Cylons rebelled, fighting the long and bloody Cylon war with the humans of Twelve Colonies. The war only came to an end with the signing of an armistice, which let the Cylons leave the colonies to start their own civilisation on a new world. The miniseries begins some forty years after the armistice, with the colonies enjoying a new era of prosperity and security; both sides have kept the peace in the intervening years, but the Cylons have declined to maintain the promised diplomatic relations between them and their human makers. Until one meeting, when the colonial officer is surprised to find himself joined by two sleek robots and a beautiful woman (Tricia Helfer) aboard the neutral space station where the diplomatic meetings with the Cylons are due to take place. The Cylons have evolved. No longer do they look like low paid actors in cheap tin suits. The Centurion models have become advanced robotic soldiers, while a new and more threatening breed of Cylon has been developed – and they look like humans. There are twelve models of human Cylon, and there are many copies of each model.

                        These new Cylons quickly prove themselves to be ruthless, by launching a sudden, simultaneous nuclear bombardment across the Twelve Colonies, an attack that has been made possible through the infiltration of the Colonies’ defence mainframe. The designer of the defence software, Dr Gauis Baltar (James Callis), was seduced by the same beautiful Cylon who brought about the destruction of the diplomatic space station – model number 6 (Tricia Helfer) – giving the robots the ability to disable the sophisticated programming in the Colonial Fleet’s fighters. Whilst devastating, the initial attacks do not wipe out all of humanity, however. At the time of the attacks, around 50,000 humans are aboard space ships and so are temporarily safe, although only one military vessel survives, leaving the defence of the whole of the remaining human civilisation to the eponymous Battlestar Galactica. The Galactica survives because at the time of the Cylon attacks it was undergoing a decommissioning ceremony: it was a dated aircraft carrier type ship left over from the first Cylon war, and as such had technology too basic to be affected by the sabotage. Under the command of William Adama (Edward James Olmos) and with only a handful of experienced fight pilots – most notably Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and Apollo (Jamie Bamber) – Galactica must protect humanity while it makes a difficult decision: to fight against the Cylons with almost unwinnable odds, or too flee in search of the fabled 13th colony of Earth to find a new home for the Holocaust survivors?

                        What is clear from the off is that this is an altogether more serious and brutally realistic version of Galactica than the classic series. It does not follow the formulaic plot structure of films such as “Independence Day”, where the humans rally around a leader, hear an inspiring speech, and then fight back to win over the enemy. It does not shy away from showing humans being killed, from showing the mushroom clouds hanging over cities, or from creating an atmosphere of fear, isolation and suspicion amongst the surviving colonists. This is a darker programme than the original, a “Battlestar Galactica” for the post 9/11 world, in which it is harder to recognise your enemy. Unlike other sci-fi shows that are comfortably removed from our everyday experiences, this one has elements grounded in our own reality. The newly appointed president Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) has cancer; the colonies are struck with nuclear warheads rather than fictional laser weapons. The harsh truth of what has happened to the colonies and their survivors is put in the clearest of terms, and this perhaps plays on our own fears more than many other sci-fi epics have managed.

                        One of the most obvious – and controversial – changes since the last series has been the transformation of key characters Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and Boomer (Grace Park) into women. I think that Boomer’s character works well in a female version, but Starbuck is more questionable. While I welcome such a strong female character in a lead role, and it does arguably create a new and interesting relationship between friends Starbuck and Apollo (Jamie Bamber), the new Starbuck is far less fun than the original creation. The new Starbuck seems to compensate for being female by behaving in an aggressively male fashion, which can swing from being confident to arrogant to downright annoying. She is the stereotypical Maverick, and it can get a little wearing after a while; I simply don’t like the way Katee Sackhoff plays Starbuck. Still, not all changes were going to work, and the new improved special effects on the flying and fighting sequences are as good as you would expect in any film production, and more than make up for the weaknesses in the design.

                        This newly re-imagined version of Galactica also comes complete with new theme music (although the old one from 1978 is amusingly used as the anthem of the Twelve Colonies) and a new style of direction. Interestingly, the new theme music appears to be a section of an ancient Hindu Veda written in Sanskrit – this will doubtless turn out to be deeply symbolic as the programme develops, but why they use this is anyone’s guess at the moment! Director Michael Rymer has gone for a documentary style, with the camera often swinging suddenly around to follow the action as it happens, and changing focus and direction as if the person filming the show has suddenly noticed something new and exciting happening, and is desperately trying to capture it on film. This can often work in producing an immediacy to what is happening; it makes the unfolding events feel as sudden and unexpected to us as they would do to the characters, although in longer sequences it can become exhausting and I began to wish the camera operator would just calm down a little bit. I have also been pleasantly surprised with the standard of the acting overall, with Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell being especially good; although they were both unfamiliar faces to me, I believe they are quite famous and well-established actors in the US.

                        Overall, one of the better remakes I have seen recently, although I know it does not appeal to all die-hard fans of the original show. I am not a huge fan of science fiction, but “Battlestar Galactica” works so well as a compelling drama series that I enjoy it nonetheless. I will complain that the European release DVDs do not have the great extras that come with the region 1 packages, however, and that is something that I really feel lets the DVD down. The show is certainly recommended; the region 2 DVD, less so.


                        *DVD Extras*
                        A 15-minute behind-the scenes documentary called “Battlestar Galactica: The Lowdown”. Features short sections of comments from all the key actors, as well as the director and Richard Hatch (Apollo in the original show, and a long-time campaigner to revive the series). Not very informative or entertaining, but does show some interesting 1978 clips to remind us viewers of a certain age how much special effects have changed since our childhoods! This is a shortened version of the 40-minute documentary available on the region 1 DVD, and seems to have been stuck on more as a weakly edited afterthought than anything to enhance the film. I was unimpressed by it. Subtitles are also available, but only in English.


                        *Product Details*
                        RRP £12.99, but currently available for £4.98 on Amazon. Rated 12 in the UK for “moderate violence and sex”. Those of you with a region 1 compatible DVD player may be interested to know that the American version of the miniseries DVD is also available on Amazon at the time of writing from £9.57, and has more extras on it than the UK release (longer documentary, deleted scenes, and commentary).
                        Amazon, European version DVD: http://tinyurl.com/2y6eqg
                        Amazon, American version DVD: http://tinyurl.com/23kmnr

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                          08.07.2007 13:46
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                          Battlestar Galactica grows up.

                          ~~~~The premise~~~

                          Though it lasted only a single season in the late 1970’s, the original Battlestar Galactica remained a cult favourite across the following years, with repeats, lunchboxes, T-shirts, and more. It was therefore with great trepidation that fans of the original series heard that Ronald Moore, he of such controversy over his Star trek production escapades, was now turning his attention to another sci fi icon with intent to meddle. While the original featured a mostly male cast with a handful of token females, and very metallic “men in robot suits” Cylon Centurions all battling it out for unspecified reasons, the new one was to have very clear origins and a much more up to date military structure. The overall premise was to remain however. Humans had royally annoyed their Cylon creations, who took revenge and started a war that destroyed the 12 planetary colonies of Kobol, with only a single Battlestar, the Galactica, alone remaining to lead a ragtag civilian fleet of refugees across the galaxy in search of the legendary 13th colony: Earth.

                          What Ronald Moore and the re-imagining succeeded at was bringing the premise to a more logical place. We get a glimmer of just what mightily annoyed those Cylons, and see a logical progression of the hostilities take place. The “baddies” are not quite so evil, and are rather sympathetically portrayed, despite the genocide they embark upon. In this BSG, humans created the Cylons to be their servants, a slave race of AI beings. Like many an Earth civilisation, this led to rebellion, but with the creation of AI soldiers, the Centurions, the 12 Colonies really sealed their own fate. These soldiers took them on, and with a great vengeance. So horrific was the toll on both sides that a ceasefire was declared, and the Cylons banished to another world very far away. A station on the fringes of colonial space, towards the dark their servants had been sent to, was set up with the Colonials deciding that the Cylons might decide to normalise relations and decide to trade with them, overlooking the fact that for decades they had treated these beings with disregard, and NO practical amends had been made. To this end, it is perhaps not so shocking to see the opener where the Cylons arrive after 40 years to speak to the once a year Colonial representative, and blow the station to smithereens.

                          Things are never quite so black and white however. The Cylons had evolved, and unknown to the colonies, were no longer the clunky “toasters” they had been. The centurions were sleeker, and more deadly. They had also extended their race to other groups, creating “hybrids” that were literally half human appearing and half star ship, as well as fully AI living flying Raider fighters, and even their most shocking pinnacle of achievement, a human appearing cyborg. Human in almost every way, save for the mechanical nature of their origins and the ability to upload their consciousness at death to resurrect in a new copy of their body with the ultimate of cyborg software applied in a wet ware application. Sadly, this led to a renewal of hostilities as the Cylons decided to return to fight. The 12 Colonies of Kobol are unprepared as the human appearing Cylons are planted as sleeper agents, and infiltrate high levels of the government, civilian workforce, and even the military.

                          Having destroyed the human civilisation of the 12 colonies, only the antiquated and non networked Battlestar Galactica remains, rising from its living museum status to flag ship of the Fleet once more, leading the few survivors on a journey to find the legendary and possibly mythical 13th colony. It is not actually a real goal at this point, as Commander Adama lies to the crew and civilian survivors about knowing where it is, and how everything will be fine once they get there. The only surviving member of the senior government who has been promoted to president of the colonies, catches him in this lie, and uses it to manoeuvre her way into forming a civilian government aboard the ships. He agrees, and they both agree to use the earth ploy to soothe the masses and give them hope.

                          ~~~The cast~~~

                          We see nobility in these colonials, but also darkness, hinting at the depths that lie in the darkness of the human soul, with a promise of depravities to come. Rape, pillaging, murder, and more abound as the following series progress on from this mini series, but this IS only the miniseries, so let’s talk about the cast in this one.

                          First up we have Edward James Olmos. A veteran actor with a rather impressive CV on IMDB, he portrays Cmdr. William Adama. He is the emotionally and physically scarred veteran Fleet officer with command of the mothballed and turned into a museum Battlestar Galactica. He is divorced, but still in love with his ex, and deeply loves both his sons. One son died tragically flying a Viper fighter ship on a routine flight, and his surviving pilot son blames him for the death as he feels his brother should never haven sent to flight school. The loss and resulting schism renders him a man who feels deeply, but knows that duty must go on. Make no mistake about it, he is a soldier, and it shows.

                          His surviving son, Lee Adama (played by Brit Jamie Bamber), call sign Apollo, is a hot headed young man who is ready to shift blame about. Unfortunately he is not as mature as he thinks he is, and discovers that he makes mistakes because of this. As the war begins to rage, he learns a few home truths, and showing the same inner strength of character as his father, makes amends with his parent. He also shows the same ability to separate duty from sentiment in a hard choice scene regarding non FTL ships and an armada of Cylons popping into firing range.

                          Also grieving for the younger Adama son is ace pilot and severely insubordinate Kara Thrace, call sign Starbuck. It was she who passed the young man through flight school, and was also engaged to marry him. She bears the emotional scars not only for this, but from growing up in a home full of physical and emotional abuse. This is one of the show’s two most controversial characters. The controversy raged not because of the back story to the character and the change from happy go lucky pilot, but due to the change in sex. In this re-imagining, Starbuck is a woman, ably played by Katee Sackhoff. While I was initially unsure about this myself, I was won over by the skill she portrayed her character and the way the Starbuck character seemed a more logical fit to the crew. It also served to help update the reality of modern militaries. Women do fly fighter planes and serve in combat and combat support roles. It is more believable that this would also be true in a society that is supposedly more culturally and scientifically advanced than our own.


                          The other male to female character transformation took place with Boomer. In the original, Boomer was male and black. In this one, Boomer, Lt Sharon Valerii, is female and from a Korean background. No one had issue with the change of ethnicity, but again, the outcry was over the sex change. As the character is more fully developed in this version, they way Grace Park’s character is used is served better by way of her gender, so it is not mere idle meddling on Moore’s part. Park gives a splendid turn as the orphaned girl who flies support, Being a sort of non combatant scout ship pilot, as well as operating the shuttle for intership transfers of small numbers of personnel. She is very able, but unsure of herself and very conscientious about her work. She also has a secret that she herself knows NOTHING about…

                          Michael Hogan gives a gritty turn as Adama’s XO, Col. Saul Tigh. He is a bitter alcoholic with an axe to grind. He best likes riling up Starbuck, whose insubordinate nature gives rise to confrontations he can use to wield power to give himself a sense of self satisfaction. He holds respect mainly by virtue of being long standing friends with the beloved Cmdr. Adama, as well as his position of rank. We see glimmers of concern over his fitness to command and his skewed logic, all which are to have deeper repercussion along the line.

                          British actor James Callis is Dr Gaius Baltar. He is the scientific genius whose lack of moral fibre brings down the colonial civilisation. He might be smart with numbers and bits of code and most things scientific, but he is absolutely clueless with anything else. He fails to spot the devious works being done by his companion (Tricia Helfer) nor to note her strange mannerisms, so intent is he on letting her do his job while he takes credit, and in how hot her body is. He is not an evil man; rather he is a very weak and selfish one. His sole preoccupation throughout it all is to divert suspicion and blame from himself during and after the catastrophe and to make himself look good while he survives.

                          Despite the occasionally odd mannerisms, and her purpose for seducing Baltar and doing the work on the defense main frame, Helfer manages to imbue her character with a sensitivity that makes one feel a sort of sympathy with her character. Number 6 is carrying out orders, and following software programming to a certain extent. It is also obvious though that she is a woman in every sense of the word, wanting to be loved and cherished. Indeed, a scene with a very young infant is shocking, but her motivation is one of charity in the light of what was to come, and it is plain to see from the sadness in her eyes, the look of longing and regret upon her face, and the very loving way she first holds the child.

                          As you can imagine, a very strong willed character was needed to play the surviving cabinet member who was to become president, and lead a government in such a time of chaos. Such a person also needed to be a foil for Cmdr Adama, and so it was that Mary McDonnell was asked to play Laura Roslin. The minister of education, she is has just that day been shocked to discover she has advanced and untreatable breast cancer. On hand initially to talk to Adama about improving access for students and teachers to the museum ship, she escapes the massacre. He finds she is no mere school teacher, however, but has a will of indomitable iron and it forebodes the shape of things to come, both good and very, very bad.

                          Lastly, we have as pivotal characters a few humanoid Cylons and various members of crew. First we meet Leoben Connoy, pretending to be an arms merchant, then managing to tip off Adama that he is indeed a Cylon and that they are pretty indistinguishable from humans. Next we have Aron Doral, a media and public relations consultant who has no idea he is even a Cylon until they come for him after he is framed by Baltar to divert attention from himself. Chief mechanic on the Galactica is one Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol. He is an amiable sort who cares deeply about his crew and is involved in a non regulation affair. Lt Karl Agathon (call sign Helo) is also introduced to us here. Tahmoh Penikett shows us a gentle person who cares about his job and those he works with. He also takes his duty very seriously, as evidenced when he gives up his ride back to Galactica for an important refugee.

                          There are many, many others as this is indeed a true ensemble piece, but they are bit parts in this miniseries, and if I list them here, the section would be too long to be manageable. All in all, a strong cast was chosen, and well written scripts were provided, making for masterful performances by all concerned.

                          ~~~Visuals and all that jazz~~~

                          Being a sci fi show, one expects gadgetry and special effects. We get that in spades here as needed, and always used for maximum impact.

                          First off, the sets were full scale, just as they were in Firefly. Intricate pieces of machinery were put into place, but as the Galactica is supposed to be outdated and a museum piece, it is all slightly anachronistic. We see corded phone type intership communications, computer workstations that look like rather grubby office pieces, hatches are like on a contemporary submarine, and even the pilots have helmets that use a very 20th century style neck ring type locking system. It all adds to the veracity of age, but also serves to make us immediately familiar with the technology we see. We see not much of anything that could not be found on a modern aircraft carrier, and indeed, this is pretty well much what she is: an aircraft carrier in space. Only instead of launching Tomcats, they are fighter plane type spacecraft.

                          CGI does make its mark in this film however. Most spectacularly used in the space battle shots, with the only niggle to the realism given by the addition of admittedly muted sound when we are viewing the scene from OUTSIDE the cockpit. Yes, it makes it exciting, in a bam bam bam sort of way, but given the emotional scenes of pure destruction we see, I cannot help but feel the reality of silence would have perhaps served better. I cannot fault the stunning visuals, though, and so they get two thumbs up from me.

                          Much ado has been made about the new Centurions being CGI and how scary they are. These are indeed some seriously scary creations. From the mechanistic look to the deadly but graceful way they move with guns to the ready, you know these are not someone or something you want to mess with. Even more chilling though is when they put the guns away. This may sound odd, but it is because of what happens when they do. They do not merely holster them. Oh no, the gun slides up into the arm, and their hands unfold into long, incredibly slender and pointy fingers. I have to say those fingers give me the heebee jeebies big time. They look almost knife like and you just know they are strong enough to get plunged right through your skull, which thankfully, does NOT happen anywhere. Where they do fall down though is there is something every so slightly off. Looking at them in the metal space station for example, it was obvious they were CGI and not actual metallic creatures standing there. I am unable to quite put my finger on it, but as much a marvel as they are, they fall just short of being real in the being there meaning of the word. This does not lessen their impact however; as it also seems to oddly serve a second agenda. While my brain says, look they are not really there, they are there and my nerves begin to fray watching them do their thing as my mind becomes aware they, the improbable, ARE actually there. This may be intentional, but if not, I take my hat off to the animators for pulling it off anyway!

                          ~~~~More controversy~~~

                          As the original was a family type show, and merchandising was done to reflect that, one of the other controversial things about the show has been its use strong language and overt sexual situations. This is NOT a family programme, and indeed, as perhaps more befits the premise, has mature themes. So if sex and profanity (mostly mild, but the much stronger and get round the censors made up word Frak do pepper the conversation, but never overtly gratuitous) bother you, this is NOT for you. Due to sex and language and the onscreen mild violence, the DVD does have a rating of 12.

                          Lastly, we have the religion thing. The colonists worship beings with names we will recognise from the Greek myths, but these beings seem to have an entirely different mythology here and played a very real part in the humans setting up their colonies aeons past. The Cylons are monotheistic, and refer in places to a belief in a single God. This is mentioned briefly and it is all done in passing on both religious counts during this show.


                          ~~~Soundtrack~~~

                          Unlike many modern sci fi shows, BSG turned to stringed instruments. Unlike older shows who also did so, this does not mean we have great stirrings of pomp with a full orchestra. We get odd combinations of instruments, that work together to make the sounds melodic and evocative, but in an unusual sort of way, adding to the feeling of foreignness but with an overtone of familiarity at the same time. Some of the music is very militaristic, others subtle, but all befitting the scene in which they were used. Music was very well used in this production, and the soundtracks to this franchise have actually sold well on their own.

                          ~~~~The DVD release~~~

                          This is where it loses that star. When I first watched this on television, there was a superb crispness to the whole thing. Unfortunately, they decided to cram all the episodes onto a single disc, and while the picture end sound is good, some of the finer detail has been lost. It is only 2 hours and 55 minutes, but still, the loss of some of the clarity does disappoint, especially given the fact that they use fade in and out between what was the episodes to make transition, so a natural stopping place to change the disc could be found. I do appreciate not having to fast forward through the entire intro each time however, so they get bonus points from me on that.

                          There is a single extra on the disc. It takes place as a series of commentaries, all culled from interviews with the cast, some of the crew, and the directors and promo spots for the new series, and woven into a whole to make a nice little featurette. It is nice to have it here for completeness, and it was especially fascinating to see the TV interviews on the how the characters were re-imagined with two of the old stars of the original TV show. Sadly, though we hear from the actors how they got lost on such enormous life sized sets, we never get more than a glimpse of said sets. It would have been a nice touch to have had a tour, perhaps from the viewpoint of it being a museum at the start of the show! This is a lost opportunity perhaps that can be rectified on a future release.

                          Despite being a Region 2 and 4 release, the only language on the disc is English. It also has subtitles, but again, only in English. Sound is in Dolby Digital 5:1, so if you have surround sound, you will be in for a treat, especially during battle scenes if you can get over the minor annoyance of sound in space. I admit I got over it! It is in widescreen format and while a widescreen TV would make best use of this, I had no issues with badly done side chopping or anything else when I watched it on my non widescreen TV. The case is the standard black snap case plastic one with a well done printed paper sleeve, which is a relief as so many are coming with crappy paperboard cases with cheap and hard to snap on/off plastic disc holders that are brittle and awkward.

                          ~~~Verdict~~~

                          Overall, a superb take on the Battlestar universe and a fantastic introduction to the series that followed on. Priced at a mere £4.98 at the moment on Amazon, it is a steal, and well worth the purchase. Despite the ever so minor niggles, this is well worth a watch again and again.

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                            02.10.2006 17:53
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                            Forget the '70s,forget the chunky Cylon suits,Battlestar Galactica is back and better than ever

                            WATCH THIS BEFORE YOU WATCH SEASON ONE OF THE NEW SERIES-IT CARRIES ON FROM EVENTS PORTRAYED IN THIS!!!

                            As a big fan of the original series,I had to own this as soon as I knew it was coming out and personally I thought it was ace!!!

                            Produced more as a re-make or re-imagining of the original story rather than a direct follow-on,this mini-series depicts a future where Cylons designed to aid mankind instead turned against their creators and instigated a full-scale war.Eventually some form of conclusion was reached and the Cylons disappeared never to be seen for the next 40 years.

                            In the meantime,the humans build a space station and every year a delegate from the human colony of Caprica travels there prepared to discuss the terms of the current truce with the Cylons-except for the many years since the station was built,no delegate has ever arrived from the Cylon forces...untill now.

                            This arrival,after decades of silence,brings two decidedly unpleasant new facts to the table-firstly now the Cylons have evolved and look like us;secondly they are about to start another war and this time there can be only one survivor-preferably them!!

                            As the mini-series begins,the Battlestar Galactica(considered now a dinosaur because of its reliance on inferior technology) is about to decommissioned and is due to be relaunched as a war museum dedicated to the human victory over the Cylon menace-following the reasoning that the machines no longer pose a threat.This premise gives the creators the great chance to nod their heads at the original series,as costumes and spaceship designs from the '70's series are given a brief cameo that all original fans will be able to share a knowing smile at.

                            Staying true to the original series,the Cylons begin their planned armageddon by attacking each of the twelve colonies of Kobol in turn,with the help of an unwitting human accomplice who disables the main defence grid that not only defends the planets but also links all the other Battlestars.

                            Of course,only the Galactica is left precisely because of its previously-considered backward defence systems,but is unable to join the battle because its decommission has stripped the Battlestar of all its ammunition.What follows is a gripping account of a state of emergency that plays heavily on the fears that events such as Pearl Harbour and 9/11 have on the human consciousness and the political stratagies and implications involved in the aftermath of such events.

                            Commander Adama has been recast as a strong,fearless leader dedicated to doing what he feels is his duty for his homeworld and Mary McDonnell is equally excellently cast as a newly appointed President determined to do the best for what remains of her people.

                            Both characters find themselves at loggerheads due to their differing priorities but in the end,both parties must work together for the benefit of the human race and this sets everything up and puts in place all that is needed for what looks to be a highly successful and promising series.

                            Seasons 1 and 2 -the follow ups to this mini-series-have just been released on DVD and season 3 is now being filmed so it seems that I am not the only one to recognize the potential this storyline has to offer.If you loved the original or just like hard-hitting thinking-man's sci-fi then this is for you...

                            In case that is not enough,Tricia Helfer puts in a cracking,sexy performance as Cylon super-vixen No 6 and I am willing to bet that there isn't a straight man in the country who won't be tempted by her performance in that red,silk dress.Talk about lead me not into temptation.....its worth watching this mini-series almost just for her!!

                            As mentioned in a previous review,the features and inner sleeve on this DVD are rather lacking-but don't let that spoil your enjoyment because this is a cracking start to what can only be an improvement on the original.

                            What more can I say-this is the best show I have seen in a long time and long may it continue....

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                          • Product Details

                            Despite voluminous protest and nitpicking criticism from loyal fans of the original TV series (1978-80), the 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica turned out surprisingly well for viewers with a tolerance for change. Originally broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2003 and conceived by Star Trek: The Next Generation alumnus Ronald D Moore as the pilot episode for a "reimagined" TV series, this four-hour mini series reprises the basic premise of the original show while giving a major overhaul to several characters and plot elements. Gone are the flowing robes, disco-era hairstyles, and mock-Egyptian fighter helmets, and thankfully there's not a fluffy "Daggit" in sight... at least, not yet. Also missing are the "chrome toaster" Cylons, replaced by new, more formidable varieties of the invading Cylon enemy, including "Number Six" in hot red skirts and ample cleavage, who tricks the human genius Baltar! into a scenario that nearly annihilates the human inhabitants of 12 colonial worlds. Thus begins the epic battle and eventual retreat of a "ragtag fleet" of humans, searching for the mythical planet Earth under the military command of Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the political leadership of Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), a former secretary of education, 43rd in line of succession and rising to the occasion of her unexpected Presidency. As directed by Michael Rymer (Queen of the Damned), Moore's ambitious teleplay also includes newfangled CGI space battles (featuring "handheld" camera moves and subdued sound effects for "enhanced realism"), a dysfunctional Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) who's provoked into action by the insubordinate Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), and a father-son reunion steeped in familial tragedy. To fans of the original BG series, many of these changes are blasphemous, but for the most part they work--including an ominous cliffhanger ending. The remade Galactica is brimming with smart, well-drawn characters ripe with dramati! c potential, and it readily qualifies as serious-minded science fiction, even as it gives BG loyalists ample fuel for lively debate. --Jeff Shannon