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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/8/99

Battlestar Galactica
1978 (1999) - Universal

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Battlestar Galactica Film Ratings: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C-

Specs and Features

125 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, production notes, cast & crew bios, web links, film-themed menu screens, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English & French (DD 1.1), subtitles: English, Close Captioned

Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict star in this cheesy but fun post-Star Wars knock off. The story is simple, and actually rather interesting. Whether it takes place a long time ago, or thousands of years in the future is irrelevant (and is actually part of the mystery). For as long as anyone can remember, humans have been at war with a race of cyborg-enhanced creatures called the Cylons. To fight this war, the Twelve Colonies of Man have constructed a fleet of massive aircraft carrier-like starships, called Battlestars, which carry squadrons of deadly Viper fighter craft.

As the film begins, the Twelve Colonies appear to have negotiated a peace settlement with the Cylons, through a mediator - a human named Baltar. The fleet heads out to deep space, to meet the Cylons and sign the treaty. But the treaty signing turns out to be a trap - the Cylons have planned an ambush. And by drawing the Battlestars away from the Colonies, they can launch a surprise attack and accomplish their ultimate goal - destroying Mankind once and for all. But the Battlestar Galactica escapes, and returns to the colonies to pick-up whoever is left. And so, the Galactica leads a ragtag fleet of survivors away from the only home they've ever known, in search of a mythical planet that may prove their only salvation... Earth.

Ahhh... guilty pleasures. As a kid, I loved this movie. As an adult... well, back to that in a minute. First broadcast on ABC, and later shown theatrically, Battlestar Galactica eventually became a nifty TV series, which lasted for two seasons. It also spawned a second (and really hokey) series called Galactica 1980, in which the good guys finally reach Earth... to find us, just as we are today (or were in 1980 anyway). And there are rumors that the series is about to be revived again, as a new theatrical film by Universal (hopefully better than the recent remake of Lost in Space).

Seeing this film on DVD, all these years later, well... the flick is cheesy. Really cheesy. But you know what? It's still fun too. I mean, there are enough holes in the plot to fly a Battlestar through. Why would Baltar betray his fellow humans to the Cylons, knowing that the Cylons have vowed to kill ALL humans (himself included)? What's his motivation? Why would the good guys leave their home planets so completely unprotected? Why would space fighters need horizon indicators? And what's with that goofy robot dog (excuse me, daggett) anyway? As if the plot isn't cheesy enough, this flick has that classic Universal sci-fi feel to its production design. You know what I mean - it looks cool, but you can tell they didn't have quite as much money as they needed to pull it all off (anyone else remember the flashing light stings from Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century?). And how in the hell did Rick Springfield land a part in this flick (yep, that's him... enjoy it quick, 'cause he doesn't last long)? Who cares. As I said, it's still a heap of fun.

As DVDs go, this one is bare-bones, but is still pretty cool. You get non-anamorphic widescreen, and although it's pretty grainy at times (and has plenty of dust on the print), it looks fairly good - much better than I expected anyway. The Dolby Digital audio is mono, with a slight kick to it - an added subwoofer channel, duplicating the original Sensurround soundtrack heard in theaters. The menu screens are non-animated, but use film-themed images. And you get some production notes, and cast & crew bios - not much, but enough I suppose. I would have liked maybe some information on the TV series - maybe a few trailers for the first few episodes, or an episode guide. Ah, well.

All in all, Battlestar Galactica on DVD gives us just what those of us who were fans all those years ago wanted - a retro-trip back to a time when cheesy sci-fi was cool, and we were able to watch with rose-colored glasses. 2001 it ain't, but it IS a great way to kill a couple of hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Bill Hunt
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