MOVIE: Battlestar Galactica: Caprica (2009)

capricaThose of you who are not total Battlestar Galactica geeks may want to skip this review — I suspect this movie isn’t going to have much to offer you unless you’re still in the throes of grief over the loss of the greatest show of all time (!) and desperate for anything, ANYTHING, even remotely related to it.  Yep, you guessed it — this film is the pilot for a new series on Sci-Fi (coming in 2010) that will serve as a “prequel” to BSG, and while I will say it has some truly intriguing elements, overall, I confess I wasn’t too impressed with it.

The series is set about 60 years before the start of BSG, and will be telling the story of how the Cylons came into existence.  The pilot focuses on two families, the Graystones (Eric Stoltz as patriarch Daniel) and another family, the patriarch of which, Joseph (Esai Morales), we find out at the end is connected to some of the characters from BSG we’re already familiar with.  (I won’t say who, though if you’re a BSG fan, I’m sure this has already been spoiled for you in some online forum or another.)

Daniel Graystone is a computer genius, and, as it turns out, so is his teenage daughter Zoe.  One of Graystone’s most popular tech inventions is a device called a “holoband,” which is sort of like a pair of virtual reality goggles.  Zoe and her friends use the holoband to visit a den of sin, essentially — a holographic club that features orgy rooms, drug use, human sacrifice, and all kinds of other taboo stuff.  But Zoe has taken the holoworld one step further than most — she’s managed to use her mad computing skillz to clone herself as a holographic person.  A person who looks just like her AND shares every bit of data from the real Zoe’s brain — her memories, her emotions, everything.

Early on in the pilot, an act of religious fanaticism results in Zoe’s death, and the death of Joseph’s wife and daughter.  This act of violence is what ultimately brings the two main characters together, when Daniel discovers HoloZoe and manages to figure out how his daughter created her.  He uses this new skill — the ability to recreate a human down to the last detail — to sucker Joseph, a lawyer with ties to organized crime, into stealing a piece of robotic equipment he needs.  Daniel tells Joseph that if he steals the equipment, he’ll recreate his daughter for him in the holoworld, just like Zoe recreated herself.  The grieving Joseph does so, but ultimately finds the experience with his holodaughter completely horrifying and backs out of the partnership at the last minute.

As this is going on, we begin to see bits and pieces of Daniel’s work in robotics, eventually coming to realize that he’s going to be the man responsible for the creation of the Cylons that ultimately destroy his planet and nearly wipe out his entire race.

Now, if this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially pulling together a bunch of elements we’ve already seen a million times in sci-fi books and movies.  While I was watching it, for example, I jotted down, “Gossip Girls meets Terminator!”  Which, incidentally, was not something I considered a plus.  The early part of this movie focuses way too much on an insanely annoying pack of adolescents, led by Uber-Annoyance Zoe.  How annoying is Zoe?  I’ll say this much: when she died early on, I wrote down, “Yahoo!  Zoe’s dead!” only to be majorly disappointed later when HoloZoe became a character I could tell would be with us for quite some time.  Somebody put a large magnet next to that hard drive, STAT!

Worse than the annoying teens, though, it also has a whole lotta stuff in it that makes no sense whatsoever.  Just as one example, and speaking of hard drives, there’s the time when Daniel tries to download HoloZoe’s brain into a Toaster prototype and the data transfer goes bad, leading him to total panic and grief because that means every trace of his beloved daughter is now gone forever.

But, like, really?  He’s a computer genius and he forgot to back up his DAUGHTER on an external hard drive?  Dang, even my eight year-old nephew knows to do that!  Whatev’, yo.

That said, I still mostly enjoyed watching this movie and I definitely am intrigued enough by the development of the Cylons storyline to want to keep going.  Eric Stoltz, incidentally, is still extremely easy on the eyes, and a friend and I were also commenting on the fact it’s one of the few times we didn’t totally hate Esai Morales in something as well.  Good and good.

So, here’s my recommendation:  if you were a BSG fan, obviously you’re going to watch this.  Go into it expecting it to be only so-so and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the parts of it that are actually not too bad.  Go into it expecting it to be the next BSG, though, and I think you’ll be crying yourself to sleep that night.  It has some potential, but it needs a lot of work.  Unfortunately, we”ll have to wait until 2010 (argh!) to see whether they manage to pull this one off or not.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Science Fiction
Cast:  Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcolmson, Lots of Annoying Teenagers

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2 Responses to “MOVIE: Battlestar Galactica: Caprica (2009)”

  1. Trip Says:

    Meh – one show with numerous, overcomplicated, and half-thought-out plotlines with rushed endings is enough for me I’d say. Let alone one with no A-framed halls, FTL drives, Draedis contacts, or fascist admirals.

    I really liked BSG but I felt the final season was really only 8 episodes long. Lots of filler, cop-outs and WTF moments.

    24 filled my lifetime quota of annoying TV teens as well. (Cougars? Really?!)

    BSG and I had a good run, and we’ll always have memories together, but I think it’s time we moved on and met other TV shows.

    Like Mad Men. Damn, is that show good! Breaking Bad is giving me a come-hither look as well.

  2. megwood Says:

    Breaking Bad is GREAT. Definitely check that one out if you haven’t already!

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