Blood & Chrome is a prequel to the reimagined series and follows the story of a rookie Bill Adama assigned to the Battlestar Galactica during the first Cylon War. Originally aired online in ten episodes this was later stitched together to be shown as a movie on the SyFy channel in February of this year. I watched the first episode online and found out the date of the network airing and then totally forgot to set it to record or to watch it, so as a massive but forgetful Battlestar Galactica fan it was great to get hold of the Blu-ray and finally see the finished result.
To say I was impressed would be an understatement, and after watching the deleted scenes and the segment on the visual effects I am in awe of the artistry that has gone into this production. It was a great shame that this effort has not led to a series deal, but these are tight times and I guess no network was willing to shell out for a series so heavy on post-production effort.
For those not familiar with the creation of Blood & Chrome they key differential with the ‘original’ re-imagined show and any other science fiction show on television is that approximately 80-90% of the on-screen assets are digital – that is to say that the actors did their stuff in a green screen environment and all the sets, vehicles, robots, environments, smoke, light etc. were drawn afterwards and composited in. The main previous examples of this technique were the ground-breaking films Sin City and 300 – but they were big budget films not telly shows.
Over-done lens flares and blue light lines aside the digital effects are outstanding and especially awesome when they reach the Hoth-like ice planet Djerba. No trip to Iceland for these actors – an approx. 20ft square green screened studio is transformed into a harsh arctic environment. The space battles are well choreographed, the old-skool Cylons well animated, and the hanger bay of Galactica is jaw-droppingly detailed.
Let’s not forget the real stuff – no amount of special effects is going to compensate for crap acting or shit story-telling. Prometheus is a clear case in point. The story, while tipping its hat a little to the original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Alien 3 and Independence Day is fast-paced and accident prone enough to keep your attention away from making comparisons and firmly locked on the characters in front of you.
Nothing goes particularly smoothly for the youngling Adama (Luke Pasqualino) and his moody co-pilot Coker (Ben Cotton) when they have to escort the mysterious Dr Beka Kelly (Lili Bordan) on a clandestine mission. The acting is good (especially given the fact that for the most part they are reacting to dots on green backdrops or wrestling with a green bin on a rope) and there is none of the moralistic hogwash that infected the parent show in its most overwritten moments. The script is tight like a tiger and leaves you wanting to see more of Adama and his Battlestar chums. Unfortunately there was no dice on that score.
Unlike other ‘canned’ projects Blood & Chrome does hold up as a stand-alone movie and there are no real loose ends for fans to really worry over. There is also a pretty cool treat in the final section of the film where Dr Kelly reveals her true mission and comes face to face with her fate.
Blood & Chrome is an absolute must for all Battlestar Galactica fans, but if you are one I really don’t need to tell you do I? If the reimagined Battlestar Galactica is something you heard about, but haven’t seen (maybe because you didn’t like the cheesy originally starring the Face out of A-team?) then please, please, please watch it. It was quite possibly some of the best television I have ever witnessed (well at least up to Series 3); better than Star Trek, Dr Who, Homeland, The X-Files rolled into one. But then I would say that wouldn’t I?