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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
For BSG Fans

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

Street Date:
October 27th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
November 3rd, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Length:
90 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

Introduction

Previously on 'Battlestar Galactica'

The Cylons were created by man.
They rebelled.
They evolved.
They look…
And feel…
Human.
Some are programmed to think they are human.
There are many copies…
...And they have a plan.

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Fans should recognize the above introduction from the opening credits of the 'Battlestar Galactica' series when it launched shortly after the franchise reboot with the two-part miniseries in 2004. But once the first few episodes aired on television, series producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick ended up having feelings of regret regarding that ambiguous last line, "…And they have a plan." (They actually provide some amusing comments about this in the season 4.5 supplement of the same name, so be sure to check it out if you can).

Initially, the plan of the Cylons was blatantly obvious--to eradicate the entire human race that had built and enslaved their kind. But when their genocidal agenda left a small fleet of survivors, much like the Cylons themselves the plan was destined to evolve. Of course, this opened the door to dig deeper into what exactly was driving the Cylons, and so what was originally deemed a mistake morphed into 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.'

I love it when a plan comes together.

Directed by Edward James Olmos and written by series producer Jane Espenson, 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' revisits the timeline that takes place during the miniseries all the way through the end of the second season's finale. Except this time, we get to see things mostly from the Cylons' perspective. 'The Plan' also incorporates older footage taken directly from the episodes and expands on them, connecting many of the dots and revealing a few other surprises along the way. In BSG terms, the movie is basically a cross between 'Battlestar Galactica: Razor,' the season two episode 'Downloaded,' and a clip tribute episode.

To tell you anything further about the plot would only open a can of spoilers, since it does involve a group of humanoid Cylon models that some viewers may not have encountered yet if they haven't seen those episodes. Besides, part of the fun of the show is when an infiltrator is exposed, so it's best to not even go there. But there's plenty of new content with these Cylons, Anders and the other C-Bucs survivors on Caprica get more screen time, and the film introduces a new arc centered on Giana (Lymari Nadal), one of the background mechanics on Galactica.

'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' also had a bigger budget for the special effects, and they are definitely one of the highlights of the production. Previously, we've seen bits and pieces of the Cylon attack on the Colonies, but most of what was shown was the aftermath. Olmos made sure to show the brunt of the assault in epic detail, and it looks fantastic. Lesser effects are noticeably sharper, too. The Centurions have a more metallic appearance and now their feet kick up dirt when they walk. It's all very impressive.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan,' that doesn't mean the film is completely devoid of any problems. For one, stringing together old and new footage from the miniseries through the first thirty-three episodes does result in a choppy presentation. There are places where it just doesn't flow as smoothly as one would hope, but considering the fragmented structure I was surprised that it works as well as it does to be honest.

This in turn leads to my final point, which is that 'The Plan' should only be seen by fans after going through the entire series. I really need to stress this fact, as there are some pretty major spoilers, and not just from the first two seasons, either. Plus to top it off, those who go in cold will likely just find themselves totally lost by the storyline.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Just like all the other previously released 'Battlestar Galactica' Blu-rays, 'The Plan' comes on a dual-layered BD-50 Blu-ray platter, but this time the movie is housed in a standard blue keepcase and my copy came with an attractive foil-embossed slipcover. The U.S. version of this Blu-ray is also reported to be region-free and should play properly in all PlayStation 3 and standalone machines.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

As expected, 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' features a 1080p/VC-1 (1.78:1) encode to preserve the intended look and maintain consistency throughout the series.

I stated in my review for the complete series on Blu-ray that 'Battlestar Galactica' is tough to judge visually due to the artistic decisions made by the filmmakers. The same goes for 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan,' as it weaves together older footage with brand new content.

Again, it's the scenes from the miniseries that aren't quite as sharp as the rest. In those instances, black levels are generally strong, and skin tones are nicely rendered even if they are softer in places. There are still mild cases of artifacting, banding, crushing, and edge enhancement in those frames as well, but there aren't any major distractions.

The series and the new footage in 'The Plan' were filmed in HD, and those scenes do appear crisper. Fine detailing in facial features and ship plating is a noticeable improvement. Black levels are deep and inky, and with the varying contrast manipulation whites can be extremely intense. Artificial grain has been added for a gritty look, and there are scenes that are noisier than others. Even newer content like when night falls for the resistance fighters Caprica or in darker quarters on Galactica have a heavier veil of graininess. Other cases are very striking, having lush and vivid colors and a nice three-dimensional "pop."

On the whole, fans should be pleased as 'The Plan' is basically on par with the previous 'Battlestar Galactica' Blu-rays.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Also as expected, 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' includes an incredibly engaging DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack just like its predecessors.

The updated 'Battlestar Galactica' always had a very broad soundfield, and 'The Plan' continues this trend, sporting excellent dynamic range and impressive directional movement. The action sequences really shine, whether it's the massive planetary destruction by the Cylons' nukes or the guerrilla tactics used by the resistance survivors in the Caprican forest. Explosions, gunfire, and Centurion footsteps have a strong and convincing presence. Bear McCreary's thunderous percussions heighten the intensity of suspense, and his score pleasantly engulfs the entire soundstage. The quieter scenes replicate the subtler effects well and have great acoustics. Once again, dialog is clear and nicely prioritized, although it can sound a hair distant at certain points. That said, one of the best sounding shows on television is now one of the best sounding direct-to-video releases.

The Blu-ray also includes optional English SDH, French, Spanish subtitles.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' includes a nice helping of supplements, and the bulk of the content can be found on the DVD as well. However, most of the bonus features are presented here in high-definition.

  • Audio Commentary – BSG has some of the best commentaries on home video (there's actually over seventy available throughout its five year lifespan) and now we can add another fine one to that extensive list. For 'The Plan,' director/star Edward James Olmos is joined by writer/executive producer Jane Espenson to talk about the film, the cast, and why they wanted to give the series one last send-off. An enjoyable and very down-to-earth track, so if you're a fan then this one is definitely worth a listen.

  • From Admiral to Director: Edward James Olmos & 'The Plan' (HD, 7 minutes) – A featurette with Olmos touching on his passion for filmmaking and 'The Plan' project specifically. The segment also includes a few cast interviews sharing their experiences working with the director.

  • The Cylons of 'The Plan' (HD, 7 minutes) – Interview and on-set footage with Olmos, Espenson, and the cast revealing the driving force behind the Cylons' plans as well as providing a closer look at the main Cylon characters seen in the film.

  • The Cylon Attack (HD, 4 minutes) – Art director Doug McLean, director of photography Stephen McNutt, Edward James Olmos, and star Michael Trucco take viewers behind-the-scenes filming the sequence involving the resistance encounter with centurion toasters in the forests of Cylon-occupied Caprica.

  • Visual Effects: The Magic Behind 'The Plan' (HD, 19 minutes) – The special effects in 'The Plan' easily outclass anything the series had produced to date, so this piece naturally is devoted entirely to the FX crew.

  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 14 minutes) – The only standard-definition inclusion is a handful of deleted and extended scenes. A few of them have text overlays describing what CGI effects are supposed to be there since they haven't been completed.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

It's a shame Universal didn't bother with any U-Control interactive content on this Blu-ray release (especially since we've had them before on BSG seasons), but there are still a few exclusives worth mentioning anyhow:

  • My Scenes – Bookmark and save clips of your favorite scenes from the movie. Instructions are provided within the menu.
  • BD-Live – The usual BD-Live portal area. Nothing was here when I checked, though.
  • BD-Live Ticker – An active news ticker with promos and another newsworthy stuff.
  • D-Box – The disc is also enabled for support with D-Box Motion Control Systems.

The Cutting Room Floor: What Didn't Make the Blu-ray?

Those who were hoping for the 'Face of the Enemy' webisodes that were strangely absent in the 'Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series' box set won't find them here either, unfortunately.

Easter Eggs

There's one Easter egg included on 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.' On the extras menu, if you highlight 'From Admiral to Director' and press RIGHT you'll see a Battlestar emblem. Click on it for a short little BSG tribute.

Final Thoughts

They say it's tradition for the captain to go down with the ship, so in a way it's fitting that Edward James Olmos helms the final voyage of this exceptional series. Although this Blu-ray delivers an accurate video representation, an outstanding audio soundtrack, and a fair assortment of supplements, 'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' really isn't recommended for casual viewers. The structure of the movie will be hard to follow unless you've seen the miniseries and first two seasons, and even then major spoilers sneak in from later on (i.e. the identities of the Final Five). So as much as I love the show, this one is only for dedicated BSG fans.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc
  • Region Free

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Filmmaker commentary
  • Deleted scenes
  • Featurettes

Exclusive HD Content

  • My Scenes
  • BD-Live
  • D-Box

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