The upcoming Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica might not be shown on Syfy until 2010, but the pilot movie can be seen a lot sooner on DVD, [sfs=922]which will be available on April 21st[/sfs]. Fortunately since I will be on vacation next week I’ve had the chance to review it already…Read More for the review, and you can also see the press release from our previous article.
[sfs=922][/sfs]Note: This review is of an advanced copy of the DVD. Although this is likely the final version, it is possible some details could change.
First, about the story:
Set 58 years before the fall of Caprica, this is NOT the same style of series – we don’t see spaceships and flashy battles. It is a character driven drama of emotion with political intrigue, racial biases and outright hate, wrapped around a technological plot.
Caprica is a world similar to ours, as if perhaps our own world not far into the future. Even at the time of Galactica I saw the setting of Caprica being a present-day equivalent where they have simply had a breakthrough in spaceflight technology, whereas culture, medicine, etc. are all contemporary.
Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz), a prominent technology scientist, and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), a civil liberties lawyer, are brought together by deaths of their daughters (and Adama’s wife) due to a terrorist act from a group promoting belief in a single god. When Graystone uses his technology in order to “resurrect” his daughter Zoe (Alessandra Toressani), and shows Adama the possibility by showing him his own daughter, Adama fights against the idea as unnatural and an abomination.
Joseph Adama is established as being a Tauron working on Caprica under the name Adams, and they even establish some Tauron traditions, such as wearing gloves while grieving, and that the Taurons appear to have a Mafia-like familial relationship as well as the violent side. He has lost faith in the gods after the death of his wife and daughter.
His son, William (the future Commander of the Battlestar Galactica) wonders whether his mother and sister still feel pain.
Daniel Graystone is rushing to develop a robotic warrior (although for what purpose is uncertain – the Colonies are at peace (although there was a Tauron civil war in the recent past). He discovers his daughter managed to make an AI imprint of herself, which sets him on his obsession to bring her back.
His daughter, Zoe, is a troublesome teen who is hoping to change the world, although her motives were very unclear at the beginning and are only revealed later on – and perhaps lay the foundation for future Cylon beliefs.
Teens/young adults use hacked holobands and meet in virtual nightclubs where sex and extreme violence including human sacrifice are reveled. The unedited version on the DVD does feature nudity in these scenes. This is where Graystone finds the imprint avatar of Zoe that appears to be more than just a mere copy.
I think they’ve done a tremendous job piecing together a believable world. They’ve not just set up Taurons as a subset of the human race that are simply discriminated against, but given them a culture, traditions, style (the clothing even evokes old mobsters of the prohibition), perhaps even reasons why they are discriminated against. In addition, they establish the two sides of the Cylon argument between the two main characters, even though they share something in their grief. The producers/writers appear to have thought things out fairly thoroughly. Let’s hope they continue to do so. They also avoided the pitfall of a backdoor pilot in having the spend so much time in exposition, and instead concentrated on the story and characters.
I would at least liked to have seen a bit of the Pyramid game. It appears to have evolved (or devolved) by the time of Galactica into the sport that more resembled Triad in the original series.
My only fault with the story is that 58 years seems too short of a time to create the Cylons, develop them, have them rebel against the humans (established to be 6 years later), establish a force to go to war with the humans, and then disappear for 40 years.
As for the DVD itself, it comes packaged in a standard DVD case with cardboard slipcover, with a few blocked images on the cover. The DVD itself has a fairly simple monochrome screen printing of Caprica City done as a shadow, instead of the full-disc multicolor printing common nowadays (if any detail were to change with the final release, this might be it).
As is typical of a Universal release the disc starts up with a quick Universal preview screen, followed by several advertisements and an anti-smoking PSA (perhaps to make up for all the smoking on the series?). After that it goes to a static menu with images of the two main characters.
Audio is strictly English DD 5.1, but subtitles are offered in English, Spanish and French. There is also a commentary track featuring director Jeffrey Reiner, executive producer/writer Ronald D. Moore, and executive producer David Eick.
In addition to the commentary, the special features include deleted scenes and several short “video blogs”.
This should prove to be a very interesting series if the writers can keep up with it. I just hope the fact that it really is a different style of program from Galactica does not result in a drop in viewers when the series comes to Syfy in 2010. In the meantime you definitely should get the DVD and see what is coming…