Battlestar Galactica: The Movie

Battlestar Galactica: The Movie


Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

The evolution of the sci-fi genre in modern cinema can, by and large, be traced back to the release of Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope (1977) heralding a slew of doppelgangers, all hungrily suckling on this voluptuous cash cow of TV rights and merchandising. While the darker ambience of Blade Runner (1982) and Alien (1979) provided much needed artistic validation to a burgeoning genus of film, there were the inevitable TV cash-ins such as the Battlestar Galactica series. The movie itself, while fun, is a rollercoaster of déjà vu as the Storm Troopers get a custom metallic silver spray job and the heroic duo of Luke and Hans are vaulted stage left and replaced by Starbuck (Benedict) and Apollo (Hatch).

Like its studio playmate Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (1979), BSG offered the right balance of fun and thrills to an audience greedily devouring star-cruisers and cyber-villains. This led to something of a cult following for a show that surprisingly lasted only one season before morphing into Galactica 1980 with Barry Van Dyke at the helm as the refugees orbited earth for a season before succumbing to the cancellation they so richly deserved.

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The movie version of BSG was released in 1978 to provide a taster of the ensuing series with the first three episodes edited into a feature for the purpose of gauging interest and increasing revenue. The story, while a virtual clone of Lucas’ behemoth, pitted the daring rebels against the nefarious Cylons (any fan of the A-Team will no doubt recall Benedict’s bemused visage in the title sequence as a nonchalant Cylon strolls past).

It is after 12 years of devastating warfare that the Twelve Colonies hold council with their bitter enemy to sign a treaty bringing peace to the galaxy. The Cylons have other ideas, however, and spring a rather nasty and somewhat debilitating surprise attack on the colonies destroying their home worlds. The solitary battle ship Galactica is left to transport the remaining refugees to their salvation, a far off planet called Earth.

With Industrial Light And Magic supremo John Dykstra on board BSG boasted special-effects sequences that were virtually unparalleled in a television show at the time. This, perhaps more than anything else, was the deciding factor in the shows abysmal rebirth as Galactica 1980 as the crippling budget was not sustainable even by Universal Studios. The fact that BSG remains relatively popular to this day stands as testament to how it was an essentially pioneering example of sci-fi in television, paving the way for future shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5. While the special effects seem understandably dated by modern standards, the movie version of the show retains the charm that made it so popular at the time. The mixture of Starbuck’s wily charm and penchant for the ladies mixed with Apollo’s somewhat wooden heroism is as effusive as ever and will no doubt provide a refreshing jolt of nostalgia to anyone who was a fan of the movie back in the day.

Ultimately, BSG lacked the epic depth and distinctive variety of Star Wars or the bleakly alluring noir of Blade Runner but was, and is, plain and simple entertaining fun. It may be unavoidably panned by a generation of movie fans generously nourished on the high-wire wizardry of The Matrix and Lucas’ CGI enhanced Star Wars prequels. In spite of this it will still light a little candle in the hearts of sci-fi fans who long for simpler times when we could see the wires on the space ships and the tinny explosions of laser battles were punctuated by a “Bidibidibidi, watch out Buck!”.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2006
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It's Star Wars, Jim, but not as we know it!
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Director: Richard A Colla

Writer: John Ireland, Glenn A Larson

Starring: Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Herb Jefferson Jr., Maren Jensen, Tony Swartz, Noah Hathaway, Terry Carter, Lew Ayres, Wilfred Hyde-White, John Colicos

Year: 1978

Runtime: 125 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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