31 August 2015

BSG Review: Fire in Space & War of the Gods, Part I

The Galactica suffers heavy damage in a Cylon attack which threatens the ship and many of the crew and then a strange, enigmatic man offers the fleet help in finding Earth.

Fire in Space
Boomer, Athena and Boxey are playing in the rejuvenation centre when a massive Cylon fleet attacks the Galactica.

Avoiding the intercepting Viper's, the Cylon raiders are intent on causing maximum damage with one nearly ramming Galactica's bridge. Its destruction still causing major damage to the area and injuring Adama. A second raider successfully rams the port landing bay, shutting it down and causing internal fires which affect many of the crew, including those now trapped in the rejuvenation centre.

Boomer and co are mostly ok in the rejuvenation centre but know they have to get out with a raging fire threatening them. Boomer works to move them into another compartment. Tigh takes command on the bridge and looks at extinguishing the fire threatening the ship while Adama is admitted to sickbay.

In the end, it's Starbuck and Apollo that save the ship and Muffit actually saves the day crawling through ventilation shafts to deliver oxygen masks to those in the rejuvenation area.

This isn't a terrible episode even though it's all based around a major disaster that has struck the Battlestar and the struggles the crew goes through in saving their ship. We don't get much indication of what has happened to the rest of the fleet in such an all-out attack from the Cylons. It's good that, for a change Boxey and Muffit actually have a reason for being included in the episode, to the point that Muffit helps save the day. In the other areas though, it's firstly Starbuck, Apollo and Sheba that put out the fire in the landing bay, and no sooner have they returned, Starbuck and Apollo head out again to 'blow the hull' to extinguish the other fire. Is there anything this dynamic duo can't do? :P

Rating: 6/10

War of the Gods, Part I
A Viper patrol goes missing after encountering strange lights and a large ship. After a game of pyramid, Apollo, Starbuck and Sheba are sent to investigate. They come across a planet without any lifesigns, except a lone man who appears to be a survivor of a starship crash.

Identifying himself as Count Iblis, they bring him back to Galactica as he promises he can help them with his infinite knowledge. However, his answers to questions are often quite vague, particularly about his 'enemies'. Sheba shows Iblis around and to different ships in the fleet. At one point, he threatens Apollo with his life after being requested to return to the Galactica.

It would seem that Iblis has some sort of powers that are not immediately explained but we can't help but wonder at his motives. He attempts to gain the trust of Sheba in an almost freaky way, he promises food to the poor and suddenly there's plenty of it being produced and he's able to deliver Baltar to the Quorum... yet he cannot return the lost Viper pilots?

Rating: 7/10

04 August 2015

B5 Review: A Call to Arms

With the approaching 5th anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance Sheridan takes delivery of two brand new destroyers and learns of a terrible attack on Earth about to take place by a former servant of the Shadows.

A Call to Arms bridges the original Babylon 5 story arc with the new and upcoming Crusade story. The Earth-Minbari destroyers that Sheridan first coined to Delenn in Season 5 are finally ready to go online and are thrust in to action after Sheridan starts seeing visions, caused by a Technomage who just wants to help.

Joining Sheridan for this journey are Garibaldi and Lochley (to a point) along with a thief named Dureena and Earthforce Captain Anderson and crew. They discover a world ravaged by a devastating weapon, revealed to be a Shadow Planet Killer and soon find the Drakh, former servants of the ancient race intend to use it to attack Earth celebrating the 5th year of the Interstellar Alliance. When their plan is thwarted, the Drakh drop an advanced and deadly plague in to Earth's atmosphere.

I'll admit that A Call to Arms is one of the better B5 movies for its story and the action. It is not so station oriented this time but we do get to visit and see some of the familiar cast again. There is a bit of a slow build as all of the pieces come together and we find out just what is going to happen. However, by the second half there is no time to catch a breath.

While the story remains good, even so many years after it first aired, the music still polarises. JMS went with a new composer for the Crusade focused stories in Evan H. Chen. He brings a very different style from the B5 series and at times it is so noticeable that it detracts from a scene. For that reason alone, my rating was originally much lower. Some of the intensity of the climactic battle is lost amongst soft percussion and long scenes of just music (and Captain's saying 'Fire'). There's nothing wrong with trying something new I'll admit, and even Christopher Franke's work was criticised in B5's run. Maybe Chen's would have evolved into something iconic in its own right. In some ways I liken it to the percussive soundtracks that accompanied the reimagined Battlestar Galactica - maybe a little too ahead of its time for Crusade.

The effects are of a better standard than we'd seen through the Babylon 5 series but still a little lacking by today's standards. Visually, planet surfaces and space scenes are still quite stunning and the contrast between the greys of Earthforce and the golden Drakh ships work well.

A Call to Arms ends with a lead in to the series Crusade, with the lone surviving Earth-Minbari destroyer 'Excalibur' given the mission to find a cure to the Drakh plague before all life on Earth is wiped out.

Rating: 6/10