Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Blu-ray Review

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, directed by William Adama himself Edward James Olmos, offers fans of the series one last chance to say goodbye and the show’s creative team a first (and last?) opportunity to tie together several dangling loose ends. It is mandatory viewing as part of the show’s legacy and arc but not the best the show has to offer. Newcomers to Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica universe should stay far, far away until after viewing the complete series.

The Plan speaks directly to the introduction text “and they have a plan” in reference to the first season of Battlestar Galatica. As it turns out the actual “plan” is quite simple: the complete extermination of all humans on the colonies via a carefully orchestrated nuclear attack which is shown more fully with the destruction of multiple colonies than in the miniseries. The “plan” failed with the survival of a ragtag fleet leaving the Cylon leadership in the uncomfortable position of having to improvise on the fly.

Dean Stockwell’s wonderfully calm yet maniacal Cavil Cylon character is at the center of The Plan though other models, including Daniel who gets more screen time than he ever did on the series, put in appearances as well. It is the tale of two Cavils who by virtue of their unique isolation, one with a band of human rebels lead by Anders on Caprica and the other on Battlestar Galactica, that they come to diametrically opposed views of the human / Cylon conflict by the film’s end. As the series already tells us and the point at which The Plan begins, these two Cavils are destined to reunite and suffer the same fate.

Pproducer/writer Jane Espenson has carefully written The Plan to weave in and out of the series with new scenes tacked onto the immediately beginning or end of scenes from the first few seasons of the show. A prime example is the activation of sleeper agent Boomer which when fleshed out further with appended footage becomes a more justified act. These “extensions” help explain why certain key events aboard Galactica and Caprica occurred and how they directly stemmed from the original Cylon “plan.”

There are no real dramatic revelations or series changing events in The Plan unless you count nudity as seen in the Caprica pilot. Like the independent film Razor before it, The Plan works best as a nostalgic look back at the show providing its inspiration. In Razor’s case that is the 1980s Battlestar Galactica. For The Plan, the same show it is designed to compliment.

As The Plan is designed to span multiple seasons of the show and utilize footage from those seasons, the 1.78:1 VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer reflects the myriad of lighting conditions, noisy artificial grain, camera filters and other tricks Ron Moore and company employed that dramatically changed the look of the show from one episode to the next. There is consistency within individual scenes but as a whole the visual experience is uneven at best. Yet the world Ron Moore has created is somehow unaffected by the weird wavering visual styles, a testament to the strength of the material.

The Plan features Universal standard 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that wastes little time showcasing circular directionality in the opening sequence and score building right into the Cylon attack. Though the feature is dialogue heavy, action and the familiar Battlestar themed score provide ample bass pounding. The interiors of Cylon and Colonial ships are where surrounds are put to their best use to help simulate the claustrophobia and reverberation of audio around the immense steel structures.

D-BOX Motion Code
The Plan is structured with most of its action sequences book-ending the heart of the story and the use of D-BOX follows suit. It begins with the anticipated attack on the colonies which offers the perfect opportunity for D-BOX to rumble and vibrate as nuclear warheads are launched, explode on impact, and turn the worlds they strike upside down. A standout sequence involves a boat being sent into the air from the bomb impact and then slamming down into a harbor.

The first act also includes a strike by resistance fighters on a Cylon munitions depot. This sequence sees D-BOX reproduce the effects of gunfire, running and a big explosion for good measure. The final act brings about a similarly wild firefight touched upon in the original series but expanded for The Plan, but not as immersive a D-BOX experience as the first.

D-BOX use is relatively limited between the first and final acts with requisite thumping to match the score’s bass and intensity appearing often. One subtle moment where D-BOX really elevates the action on-screen involves the assassination of Boomer in season two. Her heartbeat’s pounding in audio is perfectly mimicked through pulsations from D-BOX while it slows and losses intensity into complete silence and stillness.

Supplemental materials include a Blu-ray exclusive BD-Live Battlestar Galactica Trivia Challenge Game and shared bonus features with DVD. The advantage with Blu-ray is the majority of short featurettes are presented in high definition to take advantage of the added disc space. While there is not a ton of material, what is offered extends The Plan experience and peels back layers of its secrets more than enough.

From Admiral to Director: Edward James Olmos and The Plan (6:48, HD) – Edward gets some camera time while on set to talk about his view of The Plan and his transition to the director’s chair. Some of the cast and crew pitch in their praise while behind-the-scenes footage shows Edward in action, a rare treat.

The Cylons of The Plan (6:51) – Roll call! The second short featurette jumps from Cylon to Cylon actor so they can explain The Plan. This is a cliff notes version of what The Plan is all about for anyone still confused after watching the film.

Visual Effects: The Magic Behind The Plan (19:03, HD) – The story and script came together first with effects sequences sprouting from them to the credit of the artists and filmmakers. Ron Moore became involved in post production and collaborated on nailing down the big effects sequences until the eleventh hour, much to the chagrin of the team responsible for building them.

Deleted Scenes (13:57) – Almost 15 minutes worth of raw deleted scenes footage without a table of contents. The final scene is the most intriguing as it was set up to include some visual effects shots.

The Cylon Attack (4:03, HD) – A short behind-the-scenes look at the first resistance attack against the Cylons. Michael Trucco makes this fun with some humorous color commentary.

Feature Commentary – Director/actor Edward James Olmos and executive producer/Writer Jane Espenson team up to reiterate that this is the last new original material for the re-envisioned Battlestar Galactica show. The good news is hearing a commentary come from the Admiral’s gruff no-nonsense voice is pure delight, plain and simple. He and Espenson get caught up in administering more than enough praise to their cast and crewmembers, but they also are full of insight including unintentional similarities to Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse set and the complications of faithfully inserting new footage into preexisting scenes without making mistakes in the timeline. One point Espenson makes is that there are still lingering questions about the creation of the Cylons which may be addressed in the Caprica show – as if you needed more incentive to check that out.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is a fitting goodbye to a beloved series by many and suitable appetizer before Caprica begins airing in January. If you can get past letting the hypnotic main title music that sounds like a Cylon version of the season one Battlestar Galatica theme loop over and over, then The Plan is executed well enough to warrant your attention and spot alongside the complete series on Blu-ray Disc.

– Dan Bradley

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