Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnel, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Featurette

When I was growing up ’Battlestar Galactica’ was one of my favorite space operas. It had great characters with Apollo and Starbuck, was headed by a strong central leader in Lorne Greene’s Captain Adama and had some cool science fiction elements, including the robotic Cylons.

Much has changed since the 70s and in this remake of the TV series ’Battlestar Galactica’ it presents itself as a totally different beast. This mini series which kicks off the new TV show on the SciFi Channel has a very different flair and made some artistic changes. Selected Cylons now have the ability to take on human form and Starbuck has become a girl, among other things. Most notable however, this new incarnation of ’Battlestar Galactica’ is dark. It is not the action laden fun-filled fantasy of my boyhood any longer. It has been turned into a big drama that focuses more on the inter-personal issues aboard the Galactica with characters that are bleak and close to desperation. Is that a good or bad thing? You be the judge.

Universal Home Entertainment is presenting ’Battlestar Galactica’ in its 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and the transfer is meticulous. No noise or blemishes are evident at all and the image reveals a very high level of detail. The computer generated special effects work well for the most part, though occasionally the are a bit jarring and stand out against the real photography Color balance is natural, giving the film a look that is as desolate as its dramatization. Black levels are also solid with deep shadows that never break up. No edge-enhancement is evident and compression has been handled well not to introduce artifacts.

The audio comes as a dynamic 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that makes very aggressive use of the surround effects. Especially during the dog fight scenes audio is engaging the surround channels in a way that create the illusion as if you’re right there – especially during the disorienting rolls of the fighters when the entire sound field shifts within split seconds. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable. The music of the film is doing a good job underscoring the drama-heavy approach of the show and also leaves more room to present the vastness and void of outer space, but I definitely miss a true epic and heroic leitmotif that would have become a signature of the musical score.

As extras the DVD contains a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and a commentary track.

I did enjoy this new take on ’Battlestar Galactica’ but I am also the first one to admit that it could have been better. A more light-hearted approach would have suited the material much better and could have catapulted the franchise right back into cultdom. As it is, it’s a bit too serious for its own good and could use a great bit more dog fighting action. Still, if you’re open-minded enough to accept drastic changes to the franchise, check it out.