Director – Jonas Pate, Teleplay – Michael Taylor, Story – David Eick, Michael Taylor, Bradley Thompson & David Weddle, Producers – Clara George & Paul M. Leonard, Photography – Lukas Ettlin, Music – Bear McCreary, Visual Effects Supervisor – Gary Hutzel, Visual Effects – BSG In-House Visual Effects, Special Effects Supervisor – Bill Ryan, Prosthetic Makeup Design – Todd Masters, Production Design – Brian Kane. Production Company – Universal
Luke Pasqualino (Ensign William Adama), Ben Cotton (Coker Fasjovik), Lili Bordan (Dr Becca Kelly), John Pyper-Ferguson (Xander Toth), Jill Teed (Commander Ozar), Brian Markinson (Commander Silas Nash), Karen LeBlanc (Jenna), Sebastian Spence (Lieutenant Jim Kirby), Zak Santiago (Captain Diaz), Mike Dopud (Deke Tornvald)
It is the midst of the first war between the Cylons and the Twelve Colonies. Fresh out of academy and the top of his class, young Ensign William Adama is posted about the Battlestar Galactica raring to get into battle and show off. To his disappointment, he is instead paired with cynical warweary co-pilot Coker Fasjovik and given a Raptor to pilot. His first assignment is a four-day cargo delivery to the shipyards, what he is told will be a dull milk run. They take on board their cargo, software designer Dr Becca Kelly, and set off. Immediately out, Becca delivers them their new orders – where they are to maintain radio silence and redirect to coordinates at the Cylon border. There they discover a secret flotilla of ghost ships, battlestars that have supposedly been destroyed but are operating covertly inside Cylon space. Becca delivers her orders to the fleet and they prepare to make what is almost certainly likely to be a suicide mission down to the Cylon ice planet Djerba to rendezvous with marines there and engage in what is said to be a top-secret mission of utmost importance to the outcome of the war.
The tv series Battlestar Galactica (2003-9) was a huge hit. A reworking of the earlier series Battlestar Galactica (1978-9), which in itself was quickly hustled out as a copycat of Star Wars (1977), it improved over the original in every way, rebuilding it into a complex show dealing with the politics and ethics of a space war and galactic exodus. With a hit on their hand, Universal sought to expand on it in a number of ways. The pilot mini-series was released to dvd as a standalone feature Battlestar Galactica (2003) and there were two original film spinoffs Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007) and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009). Universal then made Caprica (2009-10), a prequel series that sought to tell the story of the creation of the Cylons. This suffered from lack of focus and not enough of what people liked about Galactica and ended up being cancelled after eighteen episodes. Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome was then announced as a further prequel series, returning to the more familiar aspects and telling the story of the young Commander Adama during the First Cylon War. It was originally announced as a full series but this failed to get off the ground and was reconceptualised as a web series released in ten parts of twelve minutes apiece. These were edited together as a single 91 minute film released to dvd, which is reviewed here.
The immediate effect of Blood & Chrome in the opening scenes is seeing various pieces of fanservice play out. We meet the young Commander Adama and this is a considerable surprise – while Edward James Olmos’s essayal of the role was tightly controlled and closed off, driven by dignity and duty, Luke Pasqualino’s incarnation could not be more the opposite – a rookie just out of academy brimming over at the edges with ego and his own cocksure belief in himself as a hotshot pilot and ladies’ man, which is immediately contrasted to the jaded flightweary crew aboard the Galactica. The immediate arc this sets up is wondering how this kid is going to transform into the closed off but ultimately wisely Olmos. The other appealing piece we see is the opening on a standard space battle, which is another of the modern space battles that Battlestar Galactica 2003-9 did so well but played out with the old style Cylon Raiders from the 1978-9 tv series. Being made for the web and not constrained by tv, Blood & Chrome can also be much more of an adult series, showing some nudity in the unisex shower scenes and featuring more adult language.
As one gets in to Blood & Chrome, it begins to impress in all manner of ways and quickly becomes the best of the Battlestar Galactica film spinoffs. It returns to the space warfare aspects that were missing from Caprica and features much subterfuge creeping in and around space and attacking Cylon bases, all driven by the nature of the mystery mission they are on. It reminds one of just how impressive Battlestar Galactica‘s space war scenes were, how innovative they were in doing something different with the standard Star Wars dogfight. The film comes to dramatic bursting point with these – the flight through the wreckage of the Acheron; the Osiris’s jump to a Cylon-surrounded planet and suicide run towards a Cylon basestar; the intensive flight down into the atmosphere of Djerba pursued by Cylon ships and subsequent crashlanding. It gives the show an intensely exciting pace. The only letdown is the eventual revelation of what the mission was all about and the double-crosses that come after that point, which seem decidedly underwhelming in regard to what they have been built up into.
What one is thankful that Blood & Chrome is not is Star Trek (2009) that similarly went back and revisited the familiar characters in their younger days and featured the scenes where they first step aboard the classic starship. One of the big pieces of improbability about Star Trek was its turning James T. Kirk from a rookie into a full starship captain within the space of about 48 hours. Thankfully, Blood & Chrome does not go down the same route and invests much more time and believability in its characters. Luke Pasqualino is clearly cast to look good with the ladies and is not bad in the role. However, the best acting comes from Ben Cotton as his No 2, a role that comes with a cynicism that takes you aback and which Cotton does an exceptional job in playing out into a multi-layered character. I would certainly be more than interested to watch a full Blood & Chrome series, if not more web series adventures of these characters.
The original Battlestar Galactica films, all episodes of the original series re-edited for theatrical release, are:- Battlestar Galactica (1978), Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack (1979) and Conquest of the Earth (1981).