Cinema Static Review: Caprica DVD

by on January 22, 2010

in Entertainment, tv reviews

The Battlestar Galactica (BSG) prequel, Caprica looks at the evolving worlds of human and mechanical engineering that collide in the universe that was introduced to us in the world of Battlestar Galactica.

We watch two families that are are brought together by a tragic act of terrorism.  These two families are led by the powerful patriarchs, Joseph Adama (Esai Morales, Jericho) and Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz, The Butterfly Effect) who find themselves in a conflict of ethics, corporate machinations and intense personal ambition.

We watch the beginning of what we know will be the end for humanity as these two families, via one deed or another, bring about the creation of what we know to be the Cylons.  It’s Cylons, the early days.

Caprica is brought to us by the executive producers of Battlestar Galactica, Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, and is set 58 years before the fall of humanity. Caprica is entirely its own world.

You don’t need to have watched BSG to get involved in Caprica, but if you have seen the series, watching it fills a void of curiosity you didn’t know you had.  At least didn’t know until you watch Caprica.

I came into the DVD hoping that they’d captured the essence of what I came to enjoy about BSG. This show brought me right along and actually took me way from what BSG was.  I had forgotten that this was a prequel as I found myself wanting more of these characters as the show moved along.

I was surprised because within half an hour, I was anxiously looking forward to the next scene and the scene after that, etc..   The characters are rich in detail and compelling.

After BSG, I thought I knew what to expect.  There was a society hinted at with characters that had only been referenced in passing. There are what I call “anchor references” to Battlestar Galactica. Yet this show does not depend on BSG at all.  There are the obvious connections.  Adama, Graystone, and of course, the slow, well crafted development of the “Cybernetic life-form node”, soon to be called the Cylon.

Some Bits

Holobands are little devices the youth use to connect to a virtual world.  It’s like 3-D  MySpace and Facebook.  In this case, it’s a “V Club” where they go to in the Holo-world  and it’s pretty intense.  In fact there are a few fleeting scenes in this “V” club that include some nudity on the unrated DVD.

This society has it all – angst amongst races from different planets, the usual assortment of organized crime, terrorism, industrial espionage and subterfuge that takes place, but it’s not overdone.   This society believes in multiple gods but there is a splinter of society who only believe in one god. Yet to make their point, they resort to the violence of terrorism.

And of course, we watch that which precipitates the entire mythos of the Cylons:   The death of the daughters of Adama and Graystone and how it instigates the decision that sparks the development of what we now know as Cylons, yet it’s probably not quite like you think.

Life in Caprica is full of technologically advanced robotic assistants.  Caprica civilization is just a touch ahead of ours in technology.

CAPRICA Computer Sheet

For instance:  The above screen cap is that of a laptop computer that looks like a folded piece of paper. Here, Zoe Graystone (Alessandra Torresani) pulls out a piece of paper, unfolds it and sends her mom an email.

Throughout the film, we get bits and pieces of field tests of what will be the Cybernetic life-form node… or a Cylon.  Showing the earliest predecessor of the Cylon Centurion was fulfilling to some degree and what I would say is well done.  Well envisioned.

I was very surprised that the end of this episode pretty much will set the scene for the rest of the series as to how the Cylons develop into independent entities.

In a word, WOW, and if you know me, you know fantasy TV series, or science fiction TV series don’t “wow” me a lot.  The pragmatic side of my brain usually doesn’t allow it.

DVD Extras in Caprica

The deleted scenes impressed me.

The deleted scenes from Caprica filled in gaps of info that you either didn’t know were missing or confirmed suspicions on other ideas you might have derived from watching the movie. They made the show more complete.

Video Blogs gave tours of a few sets, showed us the director at work and a rough outline of how he approached some things.

It wasn’t a huge time filler, but it was fine for what it was.

Syfy added a full episode of Ghost Hunters in the extras, titled “Hometown Haunts.”

They have an option for feature commentary with director Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights), Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.  All I can say to this is that the first time you watch the movie, you do not want to play it with this feature on.  Why?  Because they NEVER shut up! And that’s a good thing. You won’t hear over 90% of the movie as they constantly chat about the scenes, their inspirations for the scenes, the locations, etc…. it’s awesome. But like I said… watch the movie first!

Did you know:

Well, you didn’t if you haven’t seen this yet, but The “V Club” was filmed in the same place as the Opera House we’ve seen in BSG.

The glasses that actor William B. Davis (The smoking man, CGB Spender from X-Files) was wearing were the same that Dr Tyrell wore in Blade Runner.  This was possible because they had a Blade Runner fan high up in the production crew.

In Summary

I wasn’t impressed with the idea of pre-releasing a DVD of a pilot before a TV series started. It seemed odd.  Yet after watching my screener, I was amazed.

If you enjoy true character driven stories, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s dark and desperate on a completely different level than BSG.  I think the casting of many characters was dead on and that makes this experience complete.

This was good enough to have been a stand alone movie and that it would have been incredibly satisfying. And yet, they have 20 more episodes coming up in early 2010.

I don’t think this is a spoiler, but:

After watching this movie, I think I see the potential explanation as to why Cylons only believe in one god.

For those of you who have already seen this or buy the DVD and watch it, I’d love it if you came back and told me if you think so too.

Now the only question I have is how will Syfy handle this show?  Do we get one season or are we going to get ripped and forced to watch (and buy) two 10-episode seasons? I hope they do the smart thing and think about the viewers before their coffers.

That’s all I have to say.

(Previously published mid-2009)

Caprica on Amazon

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