I recognize and understand that a lot of the bitching being done about the news of a Battlestar Galactica movie being made is hilarious when you go back to around 2002 and read some articles/comments regarding Moore’s remake before anyone had seen a frame of footage. The Aint it Cool archives in particular are pretty funny. The editorials on behalf of quality genre entertainment IN FAVOR of Larson’s original vision. The impassioned defenses of Daggits and Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain. Spittle, red-faced rage, claw-marks in the keyboard type of stuff. It’s a glorious example of nostalgia unexamined being given voice, a vein of internet comedy rich with irony. I wonder how much irony is running through our veins right now online, as the lovers of Moore/Eick’s version now sound a LOT like the people who thought Larson/Bellisario/Hatch were the only ones with the rights to touch anything Battlestar related.
Granted, it’s easier to take such a hardline position when the show you’re defending is NOT a cheezy piece of pandering bullshit, but is, in fact, one of the most well-recieved pieces of televised Sci-Fi ever, and definitely one of the most influential filmic works of the last 10 years in terms of style. The protestations seem so much more righteous when you’re defending something worth a shit, even if the people who love(d) the show are split on it’s last 10 hours and it’s (un)success, depending. I personally count myself amongst those who would call the film the finest Sci-Fi show ever made, and the finale as a piece of tonal perfection.
So, taking that into account, I’ve done my fair share of tantrum throwing and public ranting, wild-eyed and foamy mouthed. I’m in the calm down period, where the rationality seeps in around the edges as I take deep breaths, and the realization is this: I’m going to watch the fucking thing in 2011. I could posture and bullshit about principle, but the fact of the matter is, regardless of how good the show was, it was just a TV show. Principle is wasted on such things as popular entertainment. What kind of an asshole doesn’t see a movie out of principle? Don’t get me wrong, I understand not seeing a film because you think it looks shitty, the ads are awful, the director is crappy, the actors piss you off. Those are valid reasons based on the quality of a finished product you’ve been exposed to in some form, more than likely marketing. But to say “I won’t see Battlestar Galactica on principle, out of deference to Moore?” I can see not visiting an eatery because it’s owners mistreat their workers. I can see not visiting a nightclub because it’s ownership has been shown to be mildly racist. I can see not purchasing a certain brand of personal cleanser because of animal testing. But such stands of moral fortitude are fucking stupid when it comes to TV and movies. You can’t talk about principle if you don’t couple it with perspective, otherwise you’re just being a grandstanding prick. Just like the people who STILL haven’t watched Moore/Eick’s BSG because they disagreed with their ideas on principle. Their massive loss. If only for the fact they missed out on Bear’s score, one of the finest pieces of film music since John Williams set pen to paper in the late 70’s.
I don’t want to be that kind of asshole. And Bryan Singer is a pretty good director. Combine that with my sense of curiosity, and unless the ads look mindless and the early critical reception is pure poison on a Uwe Boll level, I’m pretty certain I’m going to see this thing. I hear word of Singer taking meetings with Justin Timberlake, and I know there’s a chance he’s going to be Starbuck in this revamping of the core concept, and I grind my teeth. I like Timberlake, and I think he’s got a good film career in him. Maybe as Apollo, I can see it. But not as Starbuck. Even so, even with the knowledge that all we’re getting is an Adama wholly different than Greene or Olmos, and a Starbuck that isn’t Katee Sackhoff OR Dirk Benedict, and a director whose last shot at a beloved property was a self-indulgent, bloated, reverential mess? I’m gonna see it. I know I’m gonna see it. I’m not gonna start cheerleading for the thing, don’t get me wrong. But this movie isn’t going to replace that complete series box set at any time. It won’t even replace the 78 series. It will be its own thing, and it’ll be interesting to look at, even if it’s only interesting in the same way a lot of BSG fans are discovering that 78 series on Hulu with chortles, guffaws and winces. People still sought it out, and gave it a shot. The show came up short, but they still at least gave it a shot.
I’ll give this a shot. A fair one. If it fails, it fails, and so what, I didn’t fuckin make it, it’s not my baby, it’s just another shitty movie I saw in a theater one day. I’m still VERY skeptical. The speed that this thing is coming together with tells me that Universal doesn’t give a shit about the quality, only about the potential for having their own homegrown “Star Trek” revival. It’s misguided thinking at best, not looking at why Star Trek was dead, why that revival worked, not devoting an ounce of thought beyond “They got one of those at Paramount, do we have one here at Universal?” The whole thing just feels crassly blatant in its cash-grab, fuck-the-quality feel. Almost like when ABC threw money at Larson because they saw Lucas shoving millions by the fistful into his still nascent neck-pouch-goiter-thing. And we ended up with a pretty looking, empty, stupid, pandering shitpile of sci-fi entertainment.
My hope? They rescind the statement that they’re not going to play in Moore’s sandbox, and they tell a story set on the Battlestar Galactica, during the First Cylon War in Moore’s timeline. No Adama commanding, no Apollo, no Starbuck, no journey across the stars, no quest to find earth, no apocalypse. Just a straight up War Movie set in space featuring a bunch of young bucks on the decks of a badass spaceship shooting holy fuck out of robots? I might start getting out pom-pom’s for that. It’s distanced from both shows, and presents enough of a blank slate. It’s reimagination on the level Universal seems to want, without having to explore the now exhausted concept of apocalyptic footrace across the cosmos yet again. Hell, have the Galactica fight another colony’s Battlestar, pre-Cylon War. From when the Cylons did all the Colonials dirty work. There are options here.
Those options won’t be explored, because Larson is almost devoid of skill as a storyteller, and Singer isn’t great at coming up with a story, either (Superman Returns, his initial BSG pitch about 6 years ago) and we’ll end up with Timber-buck getting his pew-pew on as another revamping of Stu Phillips’ classic theme rumbles in the background. And I’ll be in the theater watching it. Either being disappointed and rolling my eyes at this waste of money and time. Or being pleased at how something called Battlestar Galactica ended up being a decent movie in spite of its goofy name. Just like in 2003. Until then, the rage I’m seeing and feeling is too impotent. There’s nothing to it. At least, nothing yet.
Bobby “Fatboy” Roberts
Afternoons, 101.1 KUFO-FM