Movie Review: Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

I never saw Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome (2012) in its original form as a web series. The first I knew about it was when I saw it as a DVD release, last month, in time for Christmas.

My Battlestar Galactica fandom began with the rebooted series from 2004-2009. At that time I was aware of the original 1976 series but had never seen a full episode. Just recently I was given the full original series as a gift and have been surprised at how earnest it is after expecting something much lighter and comic book like. I digress...

I own the entire Battlestar rebooted series so purchasing Blood and Chrome was never not an option. The chance to see a young William Adama in his very first mission during the first Cylon war, why wouldn't I buy it? Especially since there are glimpses of young Adama fighting first war Cylons in the tele-movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor. More of that please!



Unfortunately this misses the mark so badly at a story and character level it's easy to see why, as a pilot for a new series, it was never picked up. Which is a real shame because at every other level it delivers a convincing look into the world we left behind in 2009 when the rebooted series ended.



I suspect, if you saw this as a web series in ten minute chunks (as it was released) it would be more intriguing but as a continuous feature film the flaws are much more evident.

To begin with, the character we're all here to see, that we've come to know and love through four seasons of great TV, is not just a fresh faced hot shot pilot, he's also an unlikeable, arrogant dick. This character is our way in but right from the get go, he's the kind of guy you want to punch in the face with his open bragging about how great a pilot he is.

If this was a young Saul Tigh I'd buy it. Saul makes himself unlikeable but you respect him for it because he has principles and a loyalty to people who matter to him. I could see him starting out with an arrogance that would lead him towards the flawed Colonel he becomes.

A young William Adama on the other hand, would more likely be a lot like his son, Lee. He's a great pilot, he knows it but he doesn't need to throw it everyone's face. He knows actions speak louder than any words can. You can argue that he's too young to have learned this lesson yet but I would say it's not a lesson so much as an attitude.

William Adama, to me has always come across as an introvert with the ability to analyze and reflect on everything going on around him. Being introverted is usually something you bring with you from childhood. That's not to say he can't be outgoing and loud when it suits him but Captain Adama of the 2004-2009 series is well read, with a large collection of books, his quarters has a few pieces of classic art on the wall and he builds model ships in his down time... all signs of an introvert. He's not like Colonel Tigh, out drinking and playing cards with the troops.

William Adama is a man who goes on to give the last survivors of the human race hope (in his famous 'So say we all' speech) based upon his own experience of the human condition, prior to him becoming far more in tune with that side of himself through President Roslin's influence.

Don't get me wrong, Luke Pasqualino, who plays young Adama is great with what he was given. I totally buy him as a younger version of the character. It's all down to how the character was written. Which is surprising since most of the writers on this also worked on the 2004-2009 series.

Back to Blood and Stone... Since the Adama depicted here is an unlikeable dick, perhaps there's hope in finding something to like with one of the two key supporting roles?

Coker Fasjovik (Ben Cotton).
A whiny pain in the...
Adama is assigned to a Raptor and it turns out his co-pilot, Coker Fasjovik (Ben Cotton), is a whiny pain in the ass. He's only got a few months of service to go, and is hoping to stay alive long enough to see those months through. Coker's not happy about being assigned a rookie pilot who out ranks him (fair enough) but he's never happy about any situation in the film. He spends so much time whinging about everything you just want to punch him in the face too.

If you think I'm not right about that, watch the movie and see William Adama spend most of it refraining from punching Coker right in the face. There's no love lost between either of them with much of the tension arising from Coker not being willing to put himself in harms way.

So now I'm watching two dicks I don't like. Here's hoping the third and final character we're going on this journey with is the glue that holds everything together with their natural charisma and ability to unite the team to achieve their common goal...

Dr Becca Kelly (Lilli Bordan).
Distant and stand off-ish.
Enter Dr Becca Kelly (Lilli Bordan), a genius software engineer who worked directly on improving the Cylon technology that would ultimately lead to war. Given the timeline of this movie is ten years into the war she must have been a child prodigy. She could have been the one character we actually like but her 'operating on a need to know' basis makes the character distant and stand off-ish.

This could have made her something of an enigma if Adama and Coker had a few scenes speculating about her in way that, because they want to know more, we want to know more too but there's too much going on to really set her up for that.

The whole movie is pegged around these three characters, none of whom I really connected with initially, nor did I grow to like as the movie progressed. Even when a fourth person is briefly added to the team, that character is so unlikeable, you're glad they weren't there from the beginning.

All of this is a shame because everything (other than the overuse of lens flare) is top quality. Having watched the VFX special included on the DVD I would never have guessed virtually every backdrop to every scene was all CGI. I was fully convinced that the Battlestar Galactica Hanger Bay scenes were the same ones we saw in the 2004-2009 series but with a lot more activity and equipment - as you would expect during the ships heyday. However none of those sets exist. Even the Viper Adama climbs out of in the hanger is CGI and not an actual set beyond the canopy.

Everything in this scene, except for William Adama (Luke Pasqualino),
is CGI. Yes even the hanger crew in the background.

Flashback scene Cylon from BSG: Razor
The only thing I question in terms of effects is the Cylons are not the original series style Cylons, as depicted in the flashback scenes in Razor, but something closer to a hybrid of the old and the new Cylons. One could argue they're an upgraded model since this film is ten years into the war, however the flashback scenes in Razor are from the end of the first war so....Hmmm?

Cylon from Blood and Chrome.
That said, the Cylon designs in Blood and Chrome look great. Seeing another version of a toaster that looks kick ass is never disappointing.

Whilst it was the characterizations that killed this for me it didn't help that (*warning mild spoiler ahead - skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled*) by the end of the film nothing seems to have been achieved. Adama's mission could have changed the course of the war but where they end up is about one destroyed control panel away from where the war was at when the film began.

My personal feeling on Blood and Chrome is, the writers could take the exact same story outline but, at the very least get William Adama's character right. Give us the young version of William that's more like Lee Adama (never more was the saying 'like father, like son' relevant than here). Show how that guy would fly a Viper and not feel a need to paint kills on the ship. Show how that guy would handle a whiny co-pilot and stand-offish commanding officer.

That Adama would've taken an interest in his co-pilot and taken the time to find out why he has so many grievances. In doing so we might have found a way into liking Coker, or at least understanding him better than 'I've got a few months of service left and I don't want to get hurt'.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is a glimpse into what a new series could have been had it been picked up. It's also proof that it doesn't matter how good your VFX are, story and characters matter. Battlestar Galactica always had strong characters and something worthwhile to say about them. Blood and Chrome tries to circumvent that with impressive action and visual effects.

There is such a strong potential for a series about the first Cylon war. It could borrow from some of the better ideas and elements of Caprica (the prequel series set 50 years before the second Cylon war), with more of Adama and Tigh's back story as our way in to all new characters. And what about the final five? What's their story? We know Ellen and Tigh go way back but what about the other three? What were they doing during the first Cylon war?

BSG fans want to see more of what they love about the show. Caprica missed the mark by stripping out almost everything that looked like BSG in favor of a 'Bold and the Beautiful' type soap opera between waring families.

Blood and Chrome looks exactly like BSG after a severe lobotomy. It's all still there but why isn't it as smart as it used to be? Without the mythology of the original series and the goal of finding Earth, it's as if the writers don't know how to create an over arching framework for the show to flesh out week to week.

If you're a BSG fan then Blood and Chrome is an essential part of your BSG collection. You may enjoy it but if not, it will give you hope that there's still a chance for a new series despite all the sets from the 2004-2009 series having been destroyed.

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