A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 578 – Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Battlestar Galactica: Razor – September 29th, 2011

Unlike the previous two nights’ movies, this was made to actually be a movie, albeit one that depends upon a television show to make any sense whatsoever. It tells about a whole chunk of time that the show skipped over to keep things moving and also goes back in time a bit, telling a related story from the first Cylon war. And it is perhaps some of the darkest stuff the franchise put out once the reimagining went on the air. Make no mistake, this is bleak and nasty stuff. It serves the dual purpose of showing how a certain new group of characters came to be the way they were when the Galactica encountered them, and making it clear that no matter how bad things got on the Galactica, they weren’t like this.

I honestly wasn’t sure when this aired in relation to the series. The show had some gaps here and there, including a hiatus in the middle of season 2 just after one of the most brutal episodes of the series up to that point. That episode, Pegasus, introduced a new ship to the fleet, a newer Battlestar that had survived the initial attacks. The Pegasus, commanded by Admiral Helena Cain, was a far different thing from the Galactica, and Cain herself was a far different commander than William Adama. But then the show kept going after the break and I didn’t think this aired that early and I was right. Looking it up, I see that it aired after the end of season 3, long after we’d seen the eventual fate of the Pegasus and many of her key crewmembers. You know, just to remind us all of what had been going on.

The movie begins with Lee Adama taking command of the Pegasus after Cain has been killed. Well, to be accurate, the Pegasus had two other commanders, but neither fared well. The focal figure of this movie isn’t one of the people we already knew, though Lee and Kara are both very important to the plot. The main character here, however, is Kendra Shaw, a young woman who had been assigned to the Pegasus as Cain’s assistant. Not long after she arrives the Cylon attacks commence and she’s suddenly in a far more deadly situation than she ever imagined. She’d considered the post as a stepping stone to a more prestigious position in the Fleet. Obviously that never happened. So we see her story, from meeting Cain to seeing her make the hard decisions in the opposite direction from what William Adama was doing in the main series. This is the story of how it might have been, had Adama been a slightly different man, had he not been surrounded by the people he was surrounded by.

Where Adama listened to President Roslin’s suggestion that they take the civilians they could and run? Cain stripped the civilian ships they found of both equipment and useful crew and continued the fight, using guerrilla tactics and if anyone questioned her or tried to stand in her way, she shot them in the head. That’s a good way of commanding order, I suppose, but it makes for a grim situation. She does this with purpose, though, and that purpose is survival. Not necessarily survival of the human race, but survival of her ship and her crew for the purpose of killing as many Cylons as possible. And she is brutally ruthless about it. You could probably take the events on the Pegasus point by point and compare them to the Galactica. It’s a stark comparison.

The movie flips between the prior events on the Pegasus, flashbacks to the first Cylon war, and present day where Lee has put Kendra in place as his XO to try and prove that he respects the Pegasus crew. As the crew goes on a mission to find a missing Raptor crew and an old ship from the first Cylon war with some sort of experimental tech the Cylons were butchering humans for, we go back and forth. Kendra and Kara butt heads, Kendra questions everything, Kendra remembers what brought her to this time and place. And I like Kendra. She’s an interesting character who’s had to make some compromises between her survival and her morals. She’s done things she regrets, but she’s had to keep going and not let those regrets engulf her. And they almost do, but she still keeps going. I don’t think Kendra really has an analogue on the Galactica crew. Dee, perhaps, but I almost feel as though she is a stand-in for almost every minor or unnamed character on the Galactica. People who might seem like perfectly ordinary human beings with the morals and moral failings one expects, but who, when faced with someone like Cain, might do unthinkable things. One of the things I loved about Battlestar Galactica was that it wasn’t an easy show. It made its characters make difficult decisions and it made them deal with the consequences. And Kendra is like a poster child for difficult decisions and consequences.

She also acts as a bit of a foil for Kara. Now, I’ll be frank: I love Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace and I love her for her entire character, flaws and all. But because she’s such a key character in the show and because she often steals the spotlight, it’s easy to look at anyone opposing her and dismiss them. This is a mistake. Look at Tigh, for example. He turned out to be one of the biggest bad-asses on the crew. So I like when people Kara butts heads with turn out to be just as strong and just as skilled and just as stubborn as her.

The other thing I really like about this episode is the combination of past and future around the present storyline. As the team from the Pegasus goes after their missing people they discover something that was created in the past, but which ends up playing a fairly sizable role (in concept) later in the show. There are also a number of callbacks to the original series, with classic-style Cylons showing up once or twice. The only unfortunate part about that is that the
foreshadowing done in this movie never really played out very well for me. The movie ends with a mysterious character we know very little about giving a prediction of doom for the human race that involves a major character from the show. And technically I suppose it does play out. But any time you have to qualify something like that with “technically” it’s a bad sign. It’s a matter of the terminology being technically true but annoyingly misleading. It’s not clever and it’s part of my eventual disappointment with how poorly planned the end of the series seemed to be. There was so much foreshadowing, including the end of this movie, and it felt like they had to find a way to make it all fit together and it didn’t. Ultimately, I do enjoy this movie. I just have to ignore where the climactic prophecy actually ended up leading to.


September 29, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Battlestar Galactica: Razor

September 29, 2011

Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Halfway through the secons season of the new Battlestar Galactica the show went on hiatus for several months. Things were beginning to get pretty intense in the series at that point. Well, okay, they had started out intense, but the show too a pretty dark turn midway through season two when the human fleet encountered the Battlestar Pegasus, a warship long thought lost which had survived through harsh martial law and unforgiving discipline. It was a startling dark mirror that showed how nasty things could have been on the Galactica if not for the humanising effect of President Roslin. Under the unforgiving command of Admiral Kain the Pegasus had become a ship of horrors – inured to torture and lost to despair. This movie came out during the hiatus and acted to show through flashbacks just how things got the way they were on Pegasus and just how bad they were. For good measure it also threw in some metaphysical twists to keep us hooked into the show.

The movie picks up with a quick recap of the events of the last couple episodes before the hiatus. It covers how an escaped cylon killed Admiral Kain after the Pegasus re-joined the colonial fleet and attempted to take it over. How the two men given command after her death were unable to bring peace to the doomed ship. Admiral William Adama puts his son Lee in command with the mission of making the Pegasus work as part of the fleet. Lee in turn takes a new face for us, the loose cannon and morally questionable Lieutenant Kendra Shaw as his XO. Shaw is a strong woman who was forged into a weapon of war by serving under Kain. Lee hopes that having her as his second in command will form a bridge for him to the crew of the Pegasus.


September 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment