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I like science fiction. I think it's interesting. It's not an outright fantasy and it's not hard science either. It's somewhere in-between, which makes it really, well, interesting.

But then there are sci-fi shows that really push the limits of the genre. For some, it's The X-files. For others, it's Star Trek. I'm sure there are other titles that I haven't heard of, but for me, the defining moment of science fiction is Battlestar Galactica.

The original series was aired in 1978. It was a huge success. Then in 2004, David Eick and Ronald D. Moore decided to "re-imagine" it. The result is HBO's multi-awarded, critically-praised Battlestar Galactica.

The series chronicles the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol after their nuclear near-annihilation by the Cylons (sentient, monotheistic cyborgs). Under the leadership of Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), a former school teacher suddenly elevated to President, and Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) who commands the old but powerful warship, Galactica, the survivors travel across the galaxy, dodging and outmaneuvering Cylons intent on destroying them as they search the galaxy for the mythical thirteenth colony: Earth.

Battlestar Galactica: Razor is a standalone movie that takes place within the timeline of BSG. It shows how another battlestar, Pegasus and its crew survived the Cylon synchronated nuclear attack, then under the command of Rear Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), through the recollections of present Pegasus executive officer Major Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Jacobsen), as well as events dating back to the first Cylon War. These flashback scenes are in turn interpersed with the present as Lee "Apollo" Adama (Jamie Bamber), the new commander of Pegasus, accepts a mission to rescue a group of human scientists captured by the Cylons.


WHY I LIKE IT

The movie offers a glimpse of how Pegasus survived under Cain's command. The tv series showed me some clues -- Cain is a cruel, sadistic lunatic who doesn't second guess, doesn't hesitate, doesn't allow her natural human inhibitions to stop her from doing what she thought was required. Like I said, a lunatic. But even lunatics have their reasons, and let's not forget, Pegasus survived. This movie explored those reasons one by one, showing Cain as a child who experienced first-hand the devastation and personal anguish wrought by the first Cylon War; as the no-nonsense commander of the Pegasus days before the Cylon attack; and finally as the brutal, cold-hearted sociopath in BSG. The movie portrayed Cain's character well, made her psychology believable, made her actions, no matter how extreme, tactically expedient.

I like the take on the unavoidable comparisons between Galactica and Pegasus. This was done in the series as well but I can't get tired of it. This time, the movie draws parallels through Lee's willingness to shoot a nuke at the basestar even though his men are still aboard it just to accomplish the mission and Adama's counsel for him to give them a chance. This, Cain did not do; she never gave anybody a chance, not her former XO who was also her friend whom she shot in the head when he refused to carry out her order, not the civilians whom she ordered stripped of all their usable supplies and killed if they resisted, not the Cylon spy who was once her lover whom she had ordered tortured, abused and raped all in the name of gathering intel. From a tactical perspective, the measures she took were flawless but she lost her morality as a result and people, not just her crew, suffered for it. Galactica's crew went through the same catastrophe but never walked the path that Cain and her men did and the movie as well as the series tell us why.

The introduction of the Pegasus was really one of the most interesting arcs in the BSG series. It presented so many social issues that made the series so relevant at the time (it was aired at the height of the ongoing war in Iraq when horrible stories of torture and other human rights violations were rampant) and allowed its makers to make searing, but subtle, social commentaries. Not only that, the story is just interesting and this movie gave me more of a background behind it.


WHY I DON'T LIKE IT

For a movie made to be a standalone from the series, it's not. Razor is very interconnected with the main plot that if you haven't watched BSG, you might get lost among all the jargon, name droppings and direct references to specific events in the series.

Many of the characters from the series don't have a lot of screentime. Athena/Sharon/Eight (Grace Park) has like a single line in the entire movie and Baltar (James Callis) and Six (Tricia Helfer) don't appear at all, although Helfer does appear as the Cylon spy Gina Inviere.


THE VERDICT

Battlestar Galactica: Razor is a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking movie but stands more as a movie for fans of the main series, rather than one for those just getting into the franchise.

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