The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009)

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This came out yesterday, and since it's DTV, I'd thought I'd review it. My friends know I'm no fan of the new Battlestar Galactica, and I've only seen a couple episodes (including the end of the final one), so it'll be interesting to see what someone like me who has very little idea about the storyline will think about it. I did love the old one, though.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is about a Cylon plan to eradicate humanity through an attack on twelve human colonies and the use of Cylons so human they think they're humans that live among humans and will strike at the right moment. What the Cylons don't plan on is the Cylons think they're so human have fallen in love with them and won't carry out their orders the way they're supposed to.

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This is probably the toughest film I've ever had to review. It's not necessarily bad, but it's not all that remarkable either. People will probably say that I'm missing a lot of things that I missed by not following the show, but I sincerely doubt it. There's just not much going on here that isn't derivative, at least on a sci-fi (SyFy?) level. Humans creating androids or robots that want to become human: we've been there. Animosity on the two sides reflecting modern day human bigotry: see Star Trek. I mean, this is text book Frank Gorshin with one side of his face painted black and the other white.

Don't get me wrong, the movie does bring up other issues, from things like suicide bombings to what it means to be human, from fresh angles that other pop media haven't covered. I do think they did a better job discussing race relations metaphorically than Crash did. The problem is, their examination of what it means to be human is only so deep, like me in high school writing a book report on A Farewell to Arms by just reading the back of the book (I have read the whole thing since on my own time). Maybe I'm too postmodern, but they needed to turn humanity on its ear, look at us as if they were aliens, with no pretense, and build from there. But that's the problem that all of these types of studies on humans have: these people aren't social scientists, they don't have the capacity to understand the book beyond back cover.

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Here's what I'm talking about: language like "Gods damn it" and "frack" from people who dress like Americans circa 2004. What's great about sci-fi is we have the ability to recreate the world, yet everyone from Star Trek and Star Wars to Battlestar Galactica are invariably stuck in the period they write in (though Star Wars much less so). On the other hand, I like the idea of creating a metaphorical world with a lot of similarities to ours for the sake of allegory. I just think it needs to be somewhat consistent and less helter skelter. Anachronistic guns and clocks in this futuristic looking city just doesn't work.

Let me get into two of the stars real quick: Edward James Olmos (who also directed) and Dean Stockwell. They starred in two of my all-time favorite shows, Miami Vice and Quantum Leap respectively. All right, maybe I didn't like Quantum Leap, but I loved Miami Vice. My friends always think I'm being facetious when I say Miami Vice or even Paris Hilton's My New BFF is better than Battlestar Galactica, but I'm being serious. Miami Vice was an uncanny blend of being a product of its time while at the same time being ahead of its time and a throw back. It had the clothes and music of the 80s, with the Film Noir mystery aesthetics of the 40s, and dealt with issues like AIDS that we were still about ten years away from being mainstream issues. Paris Hilton's My New BFF probably does a better job of examining the human condition than Battlestar Galactica: Paris Hilton knows these kids are only there to be her friend because she's famous, and she tortures them because of it-- for our benefit. Strangely enough, when one of the Cylons in this film says "all the Cylons ever wanted was someone to hold them to their bosom and tell them they're loved", the contestants vying for the title of Paris's friend seem to be doing the same thing.

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No sci-fi series could ever be complete without a hot chick robot, and we have a real looker here in Grace Park. It's funny looking at Star Trek, because they held out forever, finally succumbing in the Voyager series with that Borg chick. Don't get me wrong, I'm am in no way mocking sci-fi fans, because creating the perfect spouse is something that affects all walks of human life. How many women get a hold of a guy and try to change his wardrobe? Really, it's a missed opportunity in studying the human condition that just reinforces my overall feeling that Battlestar Galactica just doesn't have the capacity to get outside itself enough to really say anything profound about humanity.

I really don't know that I can recommend this to someone who isn't already a fan of the show. Like I said, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that remarkable either. The almost two hour running time isn't as bad as it sounds, because there are a lot of stories that are told in the soap opera style of quick hits, so nothing can ever get too boring. I guess that's the best way to describe this: a soap opera for guys who don't like pro wrestling.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1286130/

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