Universal // 2009 // 112 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 28th, 2009
The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a plan.
Those words opened Ron Moore's reboot series and were the tease for big reveals to come -- which they eventually did, but the twists didn't seem to actually have anything to with an overarching plan. Now, with the series put to bed, the BSG crew returns for a final send-off, attempting to tie up those loose ends.
The Plan finally lifts the curtain on the strategy behind the Cylons mass extermination of the human species. To tell this story, the bulk of the screen-time goes to Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell), the leader of the Cylons and architect of the war strategies that drove the Cylons during the first few seasons. As this film is Cylon-focused, you get a lot more from the other models, notable Six (Tricia Helfer) and Boomer (Grace Park).
On the pro-human side, it's virtually all about the history of Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) and his Caprica-based insurgency against the Cylons. Eventually another Skin Job 1 (Cavil) shows up and his experience with the plucky humans -- Anders in particular -- leads him to a far different realization of Cylon-Human relations.
I am a major Battlestar Galactica fan, but I have to be honest: The Plan didn't blow my skirt up. There are some nice elements of perspective to well-known events that transpired on the series proper, but they feel supplemental. Simply put, the story this film tells just doesn't measure up to what we've already seen.
It starts out promising, as director Edward James Olmos puts together a stunning visual retelling of the nuclear wipeout the Cylons inflicted on the human colonies. In what is essentially a miniature disaster movie, Olmos gives us the full-scale atomic destruction, planet-by-planet. And for a straight-to-video release, it's awesome. The mayhem sets the tone for the rest of the plot, which concerns itself with why. Why did the Cylons resort to genocide? Why must they ensure that every human (down to the last child) be wiped out? Plus, a bunch of smaller "whys" like, "why was Boomer ineffective in her terrorist missions?" and "why was Leoben so infatuated with Kara?" and "why did that dorky Cylon in the cheesy suit suck so bad at suicide bombing?" All these questions are answered...to varying degrees of satisfaction. While the Leoben reveal -- which has such strong repercussions as the series progressed -- feels tacked on, I really enjoyed the Boomer stuff. Her relationship with Cavil offered an intriguing dimension to the character (another heavy-hitter in the later seasons) and was, for my money, the lone aspect that could truly affect another viewing of the entire series.
But this is Dean Stockwell's movie and the Cavil character is definitely a memorable bad guy. His role here builds off of the development we got out of the final season, when we see the depth of his disdain for all things human. Though his explanation for the mass nuking is a tad wishy-washy, his menace is never in doubt. The weakness comes in the story of the second Cavil, his brother on Caprica. The Anders missions are fun enough and offer the only action respite in the film (be warned: The Plan is not a space-battle-soaked, Centurion-fight-a-thon). Caprica Cavil has a major shift in ideology and the film hangs its hat on this turn for its major theme of love as a transcendent, universal principle. The journey Caprica Cavil takes to reach this epiphany stems from a few conversations with Sam and overhearing Starbuck's moans of sexual ecstasy. In the end, it's hard sell and I didn't buy it.
So what was "The plan?" I won't spoil anything, but it's not the big "Oh, now I see!" moment most fans may have been expecting. In fact, I very much doubt you'll be even moderately surprised.
If you are persuaded to get to the bottom of The Plan, make it happen in HD. The Blu-ray shines, sporting a fantastic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that looks as nice as the recent Blu-ray release for the series. The effects work pops to life with the enhanced clarity, and virtually all of it looks convincing (save for only a few moments in the opening disaster sequence where the CGI havoc just barely outpaces the budget). The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is a perfect suitor for the outstanding picture quality, pumping out a strong mix, highlighted by the unique, powerful score. Extras: commentary from Olmos and writer Jane Espenson; deleted scenes; HD featurettes on Olmos as director, the Cylons, and the Cylon attack sequence; and large HD documentary on the visual effects. BD-Live offers a trivia challenge.
Just an FYI: The Plan is unrated, but it would land an R, thanks to violence and nudity.
There is value here for Battlestar buffs, but as a stand-alone film, Battlestar Galatica: The Plan falls short of the superior Battlestar Galactica: Razor.
Only as a companion piece to an awesome series: Not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Contest: Win Dinner with Edward James Olmos