Thursday, April 2, 2009

Speculations: Battlestar Galactica

This speculative article was precipitated by the simple question: What direction should a Battlestar Galactica movie take?

Some want a continuation utilizing the members of the original cast, at least those still around willing to star in a BSG project nigh these many yahren later. Some want a straight up reboot that returns to the source material, ignoring the "re-imagined" Sci-Fi series. And those familiar only with the Sci-Fi retread are probably scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss is about, assuming they even noticed Glen A. Larson's announcement about wanting to do a move based on the "classic" series.

Is a continuation story feasible? There's some great speculative BSG continuation fan fiction out there. Assuming Larson can get the cast on board with a project, put together a decent story that doesn't involve Borg-Cylons or Atlantis (sadly Stargate's been there and piddled all over that idea), I'm all for it. But would a studio go for it?

I suppose that depends upon what options are available. In these economic times a studio may not be eager to bankroll a one-shot sequel to a series that ended 30+ years ago. Just look at what it took to get SERENITY made. Perhaps a reboot ala STAR TREK with fresh faces in familiar roles would be more palatable to the suits. But how to avoid Hollyweird's penchant for dumbing down narrative?

I say go back to the source material. Either adapt the novelization or update the original screenplays. But make it smart. Find someone that knows the jargon of the genre and is well read in "space opera" science fiction. Revisiting the series makes one realize it was written by someone familiar with naval combat, which lends the air of authenticity, until you realize that 2D naval strategies DO NOT apply in a 3D volume of space. Anyone that's played WING COMMANDER or X-WING knows that. Also don't waste money on screening groups, demographic research, or any of that other nonsense. Just git 'er done!

It really doesn't matter if the movie is a reboot using an entirely new cast, continuation utilizing a mix of new and familiar faces, or 3D CGI Anime ala Final Fantasy or Beowulf so long as it's a decent movie (or series of movies) with a smart narrative that captures the sense of wonder that originally attracted our younger selves to Battlestar Galactica.

That said many yahrens ago, in a galaxy not that far away, before there was ever a Sci-Fi Channel series, I posted an germ of an idea for what I'd like to see done with a remake/ reboot/ redo/ whatever of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. It went something like this. .

There will be three parts/acts, each a minimum of an hour devoted to story/character development. These segment/acts should cover the following:

ACT I: Background. Here we would see the colonies. Meet characters, be filled in on the 12 worlds, their history, the other alien races both named (Delphians, Tucanas, Borays, Hasari, &tc) and unnamed (felinoids, empathic dwarf simians, &tc) and the place of the Colonies in their corner of a very populated universe.

ACT II: The Armistice/Cylon invasion. Act I would lead organically into Act II, where we'd see FLEET BATTLES. The Colonies don't just have 5 Battlestars. They have cruisers, fighters, et al. The Cylons would probably take a beating. There's 12 planets in the Colonials system all the people aren't just going to run around like scared chickens waiting to get their heads cut off. Be creative. Take a page from, say, American history and have CADETS fly up to meet the invaders, or, if you prefer French history, have a bare breasted woman running through downtown Caprica leading a battalion of civilian fighters into Cylon ground troops.

ACT III: Exodus/Carillon. Bigger, better, bolder. Lots more aliens in the resort. AND (very important) Make Carillon the den of hedonistic depravity it should be. There will be no punches pulled, no watering the portrayal of debauchery down for a idiot tween audience, no dumbing down of dialogue, this will be stark craven reality. The audience is SUPPOSED to feel uncomfortable seeing this. That's the point.

ACT IV. Technically this would be the epilogue. Keep it short and sweet and allow it to set the stage for future movies but allow there also to be a sense of closure.

That's it. That's what I'd like to see. Simple. Straightforward. Doable.

As for the cast? Going with the "fresh faces" anchored by a vetern actor approach you could have a cast that looks something like this (from left to right):

Jolly = Jonah Hill
Boomer = Don Cheadle
Sheba = Diane Gaeta
Adama = Bruce Boxleitner (or J├╝rgen Prochnow)
Athena = Mandy Moore
Apollo = Jeremiah Turner
Cassiopeia = Ali Larter
Starbuck = Zachary Levi

Or, as this is just a fun bit of speculation, how about taking the cast of Torchwood and using them for a BSG project? Such a movie would have UK flair and might look something like this:

John Barrowman - Apollo (or Starbuck)
Burn Gorman - Zak
Eve Myles - Athena
Naoko Mori - Rigel
Gareth David-Lloyd - 'Greenbean'

And to round out the rest of the cast how about these Dr. Who regulars:

Tom Baker (or Peter Davison) - Adama*
Elisabeth Sladen (or Lalla Ward) - Ila
Freema Agyeman - Sheba
Billie Piper - Cassiopeia
Sylvester McCoy (or Rowan Atkinson) - Baltar
Colin Baker - Sire Uri

With David Tennant as Apollo (or Starbuck), guest starring Samuel L. Jackson as Col Tigh, and with Jeff Bridges appearing as Commander Cain.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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