BLU REVIEW: Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

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This review covers the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet set. 

THE SET-UP
This prequel to the Battlestar Galactica television series follows a young William Adama on his first mission in the Cyclon War. 

THE DELIVERY
After the disappointment of Caprica, Battlestar Galactica fans probably weren’t holding out much hope for Blood & Chrome, a 2012 web series that told the story of a young William Adama’s first taste of battle. It did just get a SyFy Channel premiere as well, and fans of the series (both new and old), will be happy to know that Blood & Chrome succeeds by entertaining, where Caprica failed to craft interesting characters or a riveting storyline (at least before it was too late; the final episodes were quite good). Even without big-name actors or a huge budget, Blood & Chrome delivers the goods, giving fans the action they wanted to see with an entertaining storyline.

Luke Pasqualino plays a young Adama, and while he may not resemble Edward James Olmos, he does a credible job of crafting a character that shows shades of the man he will become, while being an interesting personality in his own right. Ben Cotton (Alcatraz, Harper’s Island) is great as Coker, the grizzled veteran who schools Adama in the realities of war. He’s got a definite Han Solo vibe going, without ripping him off. Cotton was very good in the seriously underrated Harper’s Island, and he brings a lot of personality into what could be another generic sidekick.

Blood and Chrome works because it develops these new characters without taking a pause in the story; we learn about these characters in the heat of battle. The plot jumps from one action set piece to another; the pacing is fantastic. It is surprising to see this much action in a webseries, and it feels like a much bigger production. There is one drawback, and that is some of the use of digital sets. In some shots, especially in the Galactica hangar, the backgrounds are placed out of focus and a number of lens flares are used to hide the fact that these aren’t physical sets. It doesn’t always work, and the lens flares are too overdone. It can be very distracting. Thankfully, it happens in only a handful of scenes.

This “unrated” version doesn’t appear to be much different than the broadcast/web version, with the exception of a brief shot of a topless woman in a shower scene. It seems totally unnecessary.

Blood & Chrome hits all the right notes combining a riveting story with interesting characters against the backdrop of an epic war in space. There is no word yet if SyFy will use Blood & Chrome to launch a new BSG prequel, but it truly deserves it.

VIDEO AND AUDIO
Because Blood & Chrome was shot digitally with CGI sets, the final image is shockingly impressive, with detail that has no loss of quality. High definition often exposes bad CGI, but here, the digital environments blur the line between the real and unreal. You know the sets are CGI, but it still looks incredibly real. This is an impressive looking image, especially during space scenes; as a Galactica fan, it was a real treat to see classic Vipers and Cylon Raiders in a dogfight in high-def.

As I mentioned before, if there is one distracting thing about the video image, it is the use of focus and lens flares to hide the fact that the sets are digital. It doesn’t really affect the quality of the video, but it is annoying to look at.

The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD, and sounds great, providing a nice bass for the explosions and special effects. The music, which features a number of drums, doesn’t overpower the dialogue. 

SPECIAL FEATURES
Thirteen deleted scenes are included on the Blu-ray. Seven of the scenes are exclusive to the Blu-ray, while the DVD-only release features only six scenes. Although largely unfinished (there’s a lot of green screen and “insert VFX here” shots), the scenes are actually quite good, including a dogfight not shown in the film.

A nice behind-the-scenes featurette, that focuses on the visual effects, is also included. It is quite well done, providing a number of side-by-side comparisons of the raw footage and the finished product. The movie featured an amazing number of effect shots – nearly 1900. The featurette talks to everyone involved in the process, providing much more depth into the process than most promotional featurettes do.

They really aren’t special features in the traditional sense, but the Blu-ray includes some features worth noting, including a D-Box code (if you have a system), and a bookmark feature to tag your favorite scenes. A digital copy and Ultraviolet code are included as well.

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THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)
Movie: 8
Video: 9
Audio: 9
Extras: 8
Overall Grade: 8.5 

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome is an outstanding film, giving fans of both the classic and modern BSG something to enjoy. The acting is solid, the visual effects are spectacular, and the Blu-ray provides a top-notch technical presentation. While the extras are somewhat limited, they are thorough, giving you a satisfactory look behind the scenes. Whether you are a Battlestar Galactica fan or not, it is a definite buy.

BLU-RAY SPECS
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Rating: Unrated (contains violence, language, adult situations, and brief nudity)
Running time: 94 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (Blu-ray only), English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special features: Thirteen (13) deleted scenes (Blu-ray only; DVD includes six deleted scenes), “Blood & Chrome Visual Effects” featurette.

Click here to order Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome on Blu-ray from Amazon!