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I have to say, as a BSG fan I wasn't exactly sure what I'd think of
this show. I saw it on the big screen at the Arclight cinema tonight
(as part of the Paley Center screenings), and the cast and film makers
spoke after-wards. Ron Moore said they 'wanted to make a clean break
from Battlestar, and do something different, and that yes they would
lose some fans but hopefully they'd gain others".
Even without their talk, I am now a fan of the new show. But here's what I thought of the film.
I loved it. It was really very good. I guess I'm a true sci-fi (or 'syfy' - do I really have to type that?) geek, because I'd totally watch this as a series. It has a strong and rich story, and kept my interest.
It starts with a small group of teenagers plotting something, which to me was the weakest part and a bit confusing. The actor playing "Ben" should have given us more of a glimpse into his intense beliefs. The actress playing "Zoe" seemed a little posy, but she was playing a teenager (and I'm sure I won't be the only one who thought "Zoe" was a cylon at first, perils of being a BSG geek). If they're hoping these will be the new Bamber/Helfer/Park, they may want to rethink it. Surprisingly, it was the adults that captured the audiences attention.
Eric Stoltz gives a stellar performance as Daniel Greystone, a man so haunted by his family tragedy that he jumps at the first chance of getting out of his grief and doesn't let go. He does a chilling and enthralling job of conveying his character's sly knowledge of the inner world of computers and people, especially in a scene in which he spins a web for the young teenage friend of his daughters, traps her, then dismisses and releases her. No sign at all of the 'serial killer' he played on Gray's Anatomy, really impressive acting.
Equally as strong though not in it nearly as much is Paula Malcomson as his wife Amanda Greystone. She is just as smart and well written and beautifully played as Stoltz's part, and I completely believed that they are a couple, and a couple that have been together forever and have a strong relationship, something rarely seen these days. I look forward to seeing what happens with this family, and hope they give her as much to do as Roslin in BSG- she is strong and smart and when she lashes out at her kid, you cringe, it's really great. Not to mention her eyes, which could hold magical powers, that's how intense they are. The scene where she takes on the government agent- very short scene, but beautifully played- really gives you an idea of her power.
The other part of the show that did not work 100% for me were the scenes with Esai Morales, and the mafia type clan of his. He does a good job overall, but I did not believe in this mobs power, nor intimidated by their threats. I found myself wishing that this whole story line was a bit more mysterious and hard to figure out; the way it is presented is almost an homage to the Godfather, they kind of hit you over the head with it a bit. But given time, I can see how this will develop into an interesting 'Upstairs/downstairs' kind of thing, with the poor minorities (Morales et al) versus the rich folk who rule the planet (Stolz et al). And to be honest, I did enjoy it when he spoke to his son about the origin of their name- that was a very well played scene.
Note to BSG fans, the boy playing 'Willy Adama' doesn't really look much like Olmos, but he's just a kid. Whether or not he'll be featured any more than he was in this film, who knows? I sure couldn't tell. But it didn't bother me, because he wasn't as interesting as everything else going on around him.
Polly Walker plays 'Sister Clarice', and she's chilling and odd in every scene she's in. I'm not sure where she'll go or who she'll end up with, but I was very impressed with her acting. In this film she was sort of on the side, but obviously being set up to play a very important part later on. She was nothing like her character in "Rome", something I always find impressive in actors.
One nice surprise- the music is actually better and less obvious than BSG, even though it's the same guy doing it, Bear McCreary. It has a haunting and unusual approach that took me by surprise, I'd buy this score if I had the chance.
As to the 'panel discussion' after the show, it was hosted by Seth Green. Ron Moore was very smart and articulate, David Eick was cracking wise (much like his video diaries), Esai Morales told a long story about how he was cast, and Eric Stoltz was very funny and didn't really answer the questions ( but I've always had a thing for him). Paula Malcomson was tough (she took Seth Green to task for mistakenly saying she was on '24'), and the girls who played Zooey and Lacey were both darling. Grace Park and Tricia Helfer were there as well, answering questions about how they did the scenes acting with themselves on BSG. Overall a very interesting and wonderful evening.
I'm giving the show a 9 out of 10, and very much looking forward to watching it all unfold.
NOTE: I just watched this a second time and really hope they explore what the HOLOBAND was originally made for. I have no idea what that may be, but it holds a great deal of fascination to me.
I was blown away by the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, a show that
always kept me guessing and brought me to tears on more than one
occasion. A hardened sci-fi fan, I like to think I can pick out the
good stuff from the BS, and this was good stuff.
As such, when I first heard about the prospect of a prequel series some months ago I got a sick feeling in my gut. I was afraid that the formula that made Battlestar so successful would be reused in Caprica, which wouldn't work at all. BSG's story, of a mournful ragged band of survivors, trapped aboard decaying star ships and guided by prophetic vision and a sequence of pseudo-miracles, was perfectly complimented by extraordinary music and a better cast of actors.
Caprica feels different. Where BSG takes place after the fall of a great civilization, Caprica portrays that civilization in it's cold and decadent heyday. The overall vibe I got from Caprica was similar to that of Minority Report, minus excessive and counterproductive theatricality. In true BSG form, Caprica has in it's first few hours of programming already tackled the issues of religious freedom, racism, the morality of playing God and the nature of the human soul.
The casting for Caprica is also excellent. Each character is unique and deep, from the obsessive and distant scientist-turned-entrepreneur, to his troubled and willful daughter, each actor and actress throws themselves into their respective roles.
Music, which was used so powerfully in BSG, also plays a significant role in Caprica. Battlestar's powerful rolling drums and mournful duduks served it's themes very well. Caprica uses a more orchestral sound, which gives the show it's own feeling quite distinct from either of it's predecessors.
The new Caprica is definitely it's own show, pulling from the Battlestar franchise only as much as it needs. I look forward to the full series.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was totally blown away by Battlestar Galactica. When the show
premiered in 2003, I didn't see it. I thought I would hate it. Boy was
I Wrong. The 2003 mini-series is absolutely brilliant. What followed a
year later was totally mind blowing: a full season where every single
episode was stunningly beautifully executed with a strong story line
and an intriguing and mysterious story arch. I was hooked.
Sadly Battlestar stumbled in season two, and lost its way in season 3. Efforts to bring it back to what worked early on only half way succeeded, and with ample opportunity to end the series as a self contained story, the final chapter seemed hurried and slapped on, undermining and belittling the strong origins of the show. Battlestar was consistently more brilliant than not all the way to the end, but it became apparent that the show wasn't planned to go anywhere from the start, and that the need to spring surprises on the viewer was more adhered to that to tell an overall story. It de-evolved into episodic TV, and I thin we as an audience have tired of such an out dated concept. The Cylon plan proved to be anything but a plan.
Now comes the pilot of Caprica, a show that has been in the rumor mill for years, and been greatly anticipated by the fans of Battlestar. But the downer final act of Battlestar renders the storyline of Caprica moot from the start -- what happened some 50 odd years before Battlestar began doesn't really matter anymore, does it? And Caprica struggles form the start. These characters seem bored and uninteresting to us. They seem to be more maneuvered into action by their surrounding than by their own motivations or personalities. Nowhere to be seen is the urgency that pulled us in from the start in Battlestar. It's hard to get overly curious about the secret teenage virtual underground, and it's hard to understand where these teenagers conjure up the notion of a monotheistic God. It's even harder to understand Adama's rationale for letting himself be played by Greystone and the sudden realization of the error of his ways comes after a confrontation with a VR-representation of his recently deceased daughter that neither is convincing nor is in any way credible in relation to how Caprica technology is depicted.
The show definitely have the look and feel of Battlestar on a budget, with noticeably less impressive special effects and production values. And it doesn't help that Greystones villa looks suspiciously like Baltars, only filmed at slightly different angles.
To all the haters out there: condemning a TV series with one episode is
like judging an entire book after reading the first few pages. That
being said, I was a huge fan of BSG, thought it was some of the best TV
drama (not just sci-fi) on the air. But it was time for it to end and
the story to move on. I liked the BSG epilogue "The Plan", but it
raised as many new questions as it answered, so I eagerly anticipated
"Caprica" and I was not disappointed.
I was hoping it would not try to be another BSG, and I was pleased that "Caprica" is something different, and I personally found the story exciting, in a different way than blazing space battles, explosions and sci-fi special effects (don't get me wrong, I like that stuff too). Eric Stolz and Esai Morales give solid performances, and Alessandra was just wonderful. I can't wait until next week.
I must admit, I was one of the skeptics who prematurely judged this
show before relatively any information was disseminated about it. I
determined that it was going to be a cheap spin-off guided by Ronald D.
Moore wielding the retcon-wand.
I was wrong!
The pilot leaves an excellent impression upon the viewers. The accessibility is marvelous! Of course, seasoned BSG veterans will find themselves immersed in the plot, which is focused on the development of the Cylons before the first War. (58 years before the events of the BSG pilot). The pilot also allows for newcomers, clearly presenting its plot and ideas in the first part of the episode.
Don't be mistaken: "Caprica" is not BSG. We are presented with an immersive, cerebral drama dotted by provocative, daring, and controversial ideas.
The casting maintains BSG's standards; Stoltz and Morales are simply astounding. Morales' portrayal of Joseph Adama, inspired by Olmos' portrayal of William, gives a wonderful glimpse of William's heroic father. Stoltz's portrayal of Dr. Graystone provokes a lot of thinking and questions.
If the quality of the pilot is any indication of what's yet to come, RDM and the creative team are set to continue BSG's legacy of first-rate television programming with another masterfully created television masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a huge fan of only the first 2 seasons of BSG and the stand alone feature BSG Razor I was hoping that this release would return the franchise to its original glory days. Usually I have no problem with science fiction that is mostly dialog driven as opposed to a visual bonanza of special effects. If the script is tight with some original ideas delivered by good actors one can create a profound film with little CGI money spent. This prequel has none of those aforementioned requirements going for it. The virtual reality world created by the terrorist teenagers was both ridiculous & unbelievable. This scene was simply put there to raise the release rating to Restricted. Not that teens don't love virtual reality mosh pits filled with sex & violence & heavy dance music. Its the part about those same teens having the intellectual depth & reason or political & religious passion as to create such futuristic software or become suicide bombers that perplexes me. These kids are definitely not from this planet. The movie plays out like a soap opera with only the last 10 minutes being slightly interesting. The scene with Eric Stolz giving his cyborg a devine conscienceness via the student firmware upgrade was amusing if not entertaining. But this old concept was far better portrayed & much more believable in the brilliant, classic original "Frankenstein" with Boris Karloff. Caprica rips off its only interesting idea from an old Hollywood horror film. No surprise there! Overall this movie was bland & unoriginal & cheap looking, using recycled CGI of Caprica from BSG. I doubt I'll be watching this space soap when it premieres on the Sci-Fi channel. Unless of course I happen to be suffering from a bad bout of insomnia at which time this show would definitely be the cure. Zzzzzzzz
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being a fan of both the original and rebooted versions of Battlestar
Galactica, I was intrigued by how this spin off would tie in with the
new version of BSG.
The concept was relatively strong, but if it ends up as a series, I fear a lot of soap operatic story lines. The biggest problem will be the time frame between this tele-movie and the events of the new Battlestar.
Suspend your disbelief to accept only 58 years to go from a prototype cybernetic life form (Cylon) to Cylons that look like humans plus have a war within the first 18 years of the development of the first Cylon then a 40 year gap till the decimation of the human race - based around the set up in the new Battlestar series.
I found the Adams (Adama) side of the story to be distracting compared to the Graystone side. It felt like the Adamas were thrown in to link this movie to the Battlestar series - most prominent in the last 10 minutes.
I am crossing my fingers that should this end up being a series that whoever gets to write for it figures out a way to make it all gel together in a plausible way.
The basic background is that humanity is at a crossroads. There is a set of moral dilemmas that are being faced. Mankind has made a number of technological breakthroughs, but is mankind mature enough to deal with the its new toys? There is moral decadence in a virtual world. There are religious fanatics who are willing to kill to get attention. I predict (based on the BSG background) that there will be an issue with Cylons and slavery. In addition to this, there are all the other problems that we humans bring upon ourselves.
This show is not BSG -- at least not as far as mankind being on the run from a ruthless problem that was ultimately of their own making. There are not a lot of shoot-em-up or space-based special effects either - at least not in the first few episodes I have seen so far.
What it does have are very good stories, characters, and themes. It also has good performances from the actors. They can make a culture which is similar to modern-day society, but alien at the same time be completely believable. Like BSG, this show is about humanity - our strengths, weaknesses, potential, and flaws. It may seem a little odd that a human society on a different set of worlds has neckties, antique cars, and chicken. But those things are really more to create a semi-familiar background than anything else. Anyone who gets stuck on those details is really missing the point. Whether you are from a mafia-style culture or an affluent and high-tech culture, humans and human nature aren't that different 150,000 years ago in a high-tech past than what we see in the world today. Wonder if the writers are trying to tell us something.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Battlestar Gallactica was so great because it had tight writing, a
great look, excellent actors, and interesting stories... AND yeah, had
hot men and women running around in and out of uniform.
Caprica was just lazy. Lazy writing. Actors smoking up a storm to give them "character." Outdoor sequences that ruin the feeling of being somewhere else (yes, that is a Ford Focus sitting in the background). Lots and lots of teenage angst. LOTS of gyrating naked women (but in the background. Which I'm sure will be cut for the series) and a token view of some men in towels. None of the actors except Polly Walker took my attention at all. At an hour and a half, I was still wondering when it was going to be over.
So what exactly is it that's supposed to bring me back? The science fiction? It's awfully light on that. The actors? Besides Polly Walker's fine turn, there isn't much interesting being done here. There aren't even any "hotties" in the cast, except for maybe Esai, although for the younger set he's pretty old, since he's over 25.
I loved BSG. I was skeptical when I heard about Caprica, and unfortunately, I think I'm right. I predict a very short run for it as a series unless they really sharpen their pencils over at SciFi and get to work making this more than The OC on another planet.
I loved it, having been a fan of the original series, I have always wondered what the back story would be - it didn't fail to delight me. I also love the fact that apart from Eric Stoltz I didn't recognise one person - this is refreshing, much like BSG. It has introduced me to a whole wealth of new talent - can't wait for the series to start airing. Well done to Ronald D. Moore and team - excellent job. The special effects, dialogue and acting were all spot on, and I felt emotionally tied up in the storyline. I know there are purists out there that will probably disagree with my assessment, but I felt that Caprica was far superior to most of the Sci-Fi stuff produced in the last decade.
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