Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray Review

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray Review

Battlestar Galactica – Blood & Chrome

The war against the Cylons is one that has enemies from unexpected directions.

What They Say:
An all-new chapter in the Battlestar Galactica saga, Blood & Chrome takes place in the midst of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a young, talented fighter pilot, William Adama (Luke Pasqualino, The Borgias), finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Though Adama quickly finds himself at odds with his co-pilot, the battle-weary officer Coker (Ben Cotton, Alcatraz), the two men must set their differences aside when a routine escort mission with an enigmatic passenger (Lili Bordán, Silent Witness) turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal one for the desperate fleet.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this gives us an English 5.1 mix encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. While it was presented as a web series, it was also given a broadcast and the end result is a decent one overall, though it certainly shows its origins. The show uses a good mix of sound effects to convey a number of different locales, natural and mechanical, while also hitting up the action with a good forward soundstage presentation. There’s a good deal going on here throughout and the mix keeps up with it well by keeping it engaging with dialogue placement and the movement of the ships and weapons. The dialogue is still the big piece of things and that works well here with a few areas that get some extra effect and it’s balanced nicely by the action, which has a good bit of bass at times and also some nice throws to the rear channels for the bigger sequences.

Video:
Originally broadcast in 2013, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The transfer generally captures the look of the show well, though its pilot style origins and budget level special effects at times can make it a bit of an odd experience as some scenes just feel more washed out than they should be. There’s a lot of good detail to be had throughout though with the CG model effects and some of the costume design pieces as they come through and there’s some great vibrant pieces that fits the show well. The dark scenes definitely hold up well though and there’s a good solid feeling throughout that makes it a generally fun, clean and good looking transfer, even if it shows off some of the warts of the budget level special effects.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that goes for the big nod across the middle with the familiar logo and the new subtitle. The top and bottom is broken into four quadrants total with different pieces of the film showing up but there’s a kind of cheap feeling about it and even a spoiler or two when you really get down to it. I’m not sure what the best design would be, but they weren’t going to commission something new for artwork to sell it since it was a dead project but it at least gives us some of the basic iconic pieces that we need here with a Viper, a Cylon and some of the other character pieces. The back cover works a similar approach with its darker tone and color as we get a moody Cylon piece along the top with a decent look at the premise. That’s divided from the rest below by the digital copy aspect. The bottom half has a couple of shots from the show and a look at the discs features while the remainder is the usual legalese and a decent if very small technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Extras:
The extras for this release are really good and definitely add some nice elements to the show overall. The big one for me is the nearly 30 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a lot of which are unfinished. That means you see the green screen aspects of it, but it adds a nice layer of more human elements and expansion on other scenes in good ways, though you can see why they were cut. The other extra is a twenty-five minute behind the scenes piece that focuses on the creation of the visual effects. This is pretty fun to watch since they were trying to achieve a particular look while also going with the lower budget overall.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having enjoyed the original Battlestar Galactica series, the reboot from the last decade and really being one of a seemingly small group of fans of Caprica, I had a lot of hope and anticipation when Blood & Chrome surfaced as a pilot production. I like the property itself a lot and there’s so many areas to explore that you can pretty much go anywhere. While I could understand why Caprica had a hard time connecting after what the main series itself was like, Blood & Chrome looked like it was going back to the kind of material that would be a lot more accessible. But sadly, the show didn’t get picked up and instead was released as ten connected shorts online before getting a TV special release and this home video release a few months later. A quiet and rather unfortunate end to the franchise.

Taking place in the tenth year of the first Cylon war, which is some twenty or so years after events in Caprica, we’re introduced to a war that’s not going well and is just wearing everyone down. The Cylons make their incursions, the Fleet loses ships and pushes back to some degree and it just goes on and on. Wars that last too long tend to have a dragging feeling that weighs down emotionally as it sends more young men and women into the grinder, but it also produces some very jaded veterans as well that are just going through the motions. The dynamic between the two is what provides a good bit of tension at times and that comes through the clearest here with the arrival of William Adama, the son of a mob lawyer and a true natural and gifted pilot, albeit one that knows it and tries to use it to get what he wants.

Being assigned to the fleet has him excited as he makes his way onto the Battlestar Galactica, but he’s not getting the missions he wants from the get go. While he knows he’s skilled, top of his class and all that, the intent of the senior commanders with types like him is to try and shake some of that out with simple delivery missions. Which is why he gets assigned to a raptor with a co-pilot named Coker that’s weeks away from finishing out his second tour and going on. The two clash easily since Coker is just trying to get milk runs and be done with it without being put in danger, but there’s that sense that someone like Adama, who he nicknames Husker due to his view of him as a country boy, will get him into trouble if not outright killed because of his actions. So even though they get assigned a simple delivery mission where they’re taking a civilian contractor to Scorpion, there’s that kind of tension that comes from it.

And rightly so, since Adam and Coker essentially end up in a bigger secret mission that neither was aware of. With secrets being the order of the day, the civilian, Dr. Becca Kelly, doles out the small bits as need to know as they end up going to coordinates in Cylon space, discovering some impressive plans being put together out there and then hustling her off to one of the first outposts lost in the war in order to strike a blow against the Cylons. It’s all fairly standard stuff as the trio go on these changing missions and discover an array of people along the way that are involved or on their own missions, and the scale of it is pretty nice with a decent twist towards the end that makes you chuckle. Owing to the nature of the pilot, it has to hit certain benchmarks and it does that nicely by showing us our lead character in Adama and showing that it’s not going to be restricted to events on just the Galactica. It hits that war weary tone pretty well for just about all involved except the new recruits like Adama who are looking to make their difference in the war.

The feature is one that definitely has its issues in pacing and timing because of what it was trying to do, but it’s easy to view this as the start of something really fun. Luke Pasqualino does a solid job as Adama here, as you can see hints of the family connection even as he channels a bit of a Tom Cruise in Top Gun feeling, and Ben Cotton as Coker definitely channels a Bill Paxton kind of vibe that works really well for someone at the end of his tour. Lili Bordán has less to work with as Kelly overall, but she plays the role well and all three as a group definitely make for some fun. What also worked well for me is that they fit the setting in a good way since it hit that war weary feeling in the visual design of it but also provided for some great looking visuals for the action and the Cylons in particular. I really liked that we got the old school Cylon ships and we got some clunkier versions of the Cylons as well since that fits into the narrative established quite well. Though you know you’re filling in some of the blanks in the show based on your knowledge from the other two series, but there’s also the simple fact that this show feels like it fits in perfectly with them and would have made for a very fun and action oriented run.

In Summary:
Being a Battlestar Galactica fan is not easy since we have so many things thrown at us and little that really works to latch onto once you get past the main reboot series. And even there the final season or so was a hard one for a lot of fans, though I enjoyed it overall. With the end of that series and the loss of Caprica, I was hopeful that a more action driven series would survive at Syfy, but the timing wasn’t right and the show didn’t get picked up. While it’s rough around the edges, like so many shows are with their pilots, there was a lot of potential here for a good science fiction action series that took place in space against a rich and engaging backdrop. It’s a great what if moment, but in the end that’s also all that it is. Definitely worth checking out though.

Features:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Deleted Scenes Visual Effects Making Of

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Universal Studios
Release Date: February 19th, 2013
MSRP: $24.98
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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