Battlestar Galactica (2003) The Pilot Movie

It is debatable whether Battlestar Galactica is a war movie or not. Considering that even experts of the field (I’m talking movie historians and critics) think so, I thought I might include it here. Whether you think this is justified or not, is totally up to you.

I started watching the series with the three-hour long pilot movie. I’m not familiar with the old series and haven’t seen any other episodes so far but the pilot made me want to watch at least a few other episodes.

The pilot takes a lot of time introducing the characters and I found some of them to be quite interesting. We also have many conflicts that we usually see in war movies. Leadership is a theme, insubordination, taking responsibilities, going to war or trying to avoid it. In a certain way I found that it combined two war movie subgenres that I usually like, namely air combat and submarine combat. The battleship, although flying in space and really huge, isn’t so much different from a submarine.

Now, what’s the story? The 12 colonies of mankind have last heard from their robotic creations, the Cylons, some 12 years ago. It seems as if the war is definitely over. The old museum-piece battleship, the Galactica, is about to be decommissioned for good and turned into a full-time museum when the unthinkable happens. The Cylons, who have developed into human looking creatures by now, strike again. Number six, an extremely attractive and sexy-looking Cylon, has tricked Gaius Baltar, a scientific genius, into telling her about the human’s defense systems. Without his knowing, this opens the door to one huge strike in which all the colonies are blown up. The Galactica and a few smaller ships, plus some 50’000 humans survive.

Lead by Commander Adama, the Galactia now goes on a mission to find the 13th colony, the Earth. The Cylons will try to destroy them and follow them wherever they can and they have also managed to have one of their own among the crew of the Galactica.

The crew is a group of very composite and quite flawed characters. We have Commander Adama, a wise and thoughtful commander but also a person who is guilt-ridden as his second son has died as a pilot. Capt Lee Adama aka Apollo, his son, a gifted pilot, hates his father’s guts because he thinks he is the reason for his brothers premature death. Lt Kara Thrace aka Starbuck was the girlfriend of Adama’s late son. She clearly has issues with subordination and anger management but she is the most gifted pilot. Starbuck is the type of “soldier” you would never find in a real war movie and she certainly is one of the reasons that makes me like this series. She is gutsy, ballsy, courageous and highly talented. Col Tigh is second in command. Maybe not a bad soldier but someone with an alcohol issue. Aboard are also the newly appointed president of the colonies who has just heard that she has cancer, the sleazy Gaius Balter who is constantly haunted by Number Six and many other more or less interesting characters.

I was surprised to find it this entertaining and will gladly go on watching it.

10 thoughts on “Battlestar Galactica (2003) The Pilot Movie

  1. WarMovieBlog says:

    I’ve thought about doing a review of this (the entire series, watched ’em all) just because of the similarities between this and a lot of old ‘aircraft carrier’ type of flicks. They went to a lot of trouble to mimic “real” life-on-a-carrier, at least as far as we civvies know about it, with plenty of artistic license thrown in for sure.

    If you go through the trouble of watching the whole thing, though, be prepared to be “preached at” in maddening and subtle ways, (the then-topical “New Caprica/Insurgency” bit especially riled me) and utterly confused in other places. Some of the plot points, characters, and episodes don’t make as much sense either unless you’ve seen their 1978 counterparts and you can go ‘aha! I see what you did there!’ Main thing to remember is that its fantasy sci-fi first, which is why I never wrote it up. At times it takes a lot of perseverance to get through parts of it, you’ll be going “what is the point of this?” until it clicks. Some things about it are still just plain dumb to me (“All Along the Watchtower” — you’ll see– being the main one!)

    *Then* go back and watch the ’78 series, and the Star-Wars context it emerged in. As a young fan of that I had a lot of gripes with the new series, but in the end I think it all worked out rather well.

    • I haven’t watched any of these, Star Wars etc. I’m not much into Sci-Fi normally. I watched episode 1 of the first series by now and I already do not like it that much anymore… Yeah well. But the pilot was quite OK. Not that I watched it in one go…

    • Did it not remind you more of a submarine than an air carrier. It’s so claustrophobic. The vessel is really a mix.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    Surprising choice. The series is highly regarded here and I have always wanted to see it and may someday. I disagree that it is in the war movie category. It is not even a movie. The original series was cheesy! It does not hold up well.

    • You are too strict. If you do include Battle Los Angeles you can include this. I think you might even enjoy it more than I did as you like to hunt for details and similarities. You would find it amusing.

  3. tuulenhaiven says:

    I’ve seen this show right up to the “All Along the Watchtower” episode that WarMovieBlog mentioned above. I liked it fairly well, but as you may have gathered I am something of a sci-fi fan. I’ve been meaning to go back and finish it, but my interest in it has waned. I did see the pilot of the original 1970s series in February and it was weird to watch it after seeing the more recent re-imagining of the story…weird and highly amusing!

    • I like Sci-Fi movies with dark atmosphere like Blade Runner but the series like Star Wars were never really my thing. Still I was interested to watch this and will go on watching a few. I really loved the British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf ( I posted a video on your blog once). Seems as if the “All Along the Watchtower” episode put you off too?

      • tuulenhaiven says:

        Actually I thought it was kind of cool, if a tad bit gimmicky. I think I had caught up to where the show was on TV, and I hate to watch shows week by week by week…so I was waiting for the latest season to be released on DVD and I then I just got lazy… 🙂 I’ve been meaning to check out Red Dwarf – but my movie/TV watching has been entirely swamped by Doctor Who lately! Once I catch up to the new season my life will be back under control…!

      • I cannot watch series on TV, I need to get the DVDs. Imagine someone calls you and you have to tell them “Sorry I can’t talk to you right now I’ve got to watch my series” or “No sorry, we can’t meet, I’m watching my series.” I haven’t watch Dr Who. Sounds addictive… For the time being I’ll stick to some more Battlestar Galactica. I don’t exactly know what War Movie Blog meant. Seems as if he didn’t appreciate the episode.

  4. […] set in times of war. One sub genre I only brushed so far is the Sci-Fi war movie. I did a post on Battlestar Galactica a while back but that’s about it. Starship Troopers is one of the movies of the sub genre […]

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