Sunday, November 25

'Battlestar Galactica' returns briefly with 'Razor' sharp two-hours

Source: Daily News

The triumph of the two-hour episode that kicks off the fourth and final season of "Battlestar Galactica" on the Sci Fi Channel is that it's possible to enjoy without knowing a single other thing about the series' incredibly tangled history.

Its appeal will be richer for those who have followed Galatica's dramatic flight, mission and quest during the past 30 years. But it's a good adventure yarn for anyone, and along the way it raises uncomfortable questions about mankind and warfare that turn out to have even more uncomfortable answers.

Since war lies at the heart of everything about "Battlestar Galactica," it's not surprising it's a centerpiece again here. What's striking is that unlike in many other popular sci-fi epics, like "Star Wars," the good guys here sometimes show as little concern for life as the bad guys.

That may be realistic. It's just not very reassuring.

To oversimplify a bit, Battlestar Galactica is an armed spaceship containing a small band of humans who are fleeing through distant space after most of their civilization was wiped out by a deadly force of robotic Cylons. Their goal is to find Earth and link up with their fellow humans there.

"Razor," a prequel of sorts, is designed in part to position the characters who presumably will move to the forefront during this 20-episode season.

That includes Kendra Shaw, a young lieutenant who became battle-hardened during a previous Cylon siege on another ship, Battlestar Pegasus. The situation there became so desperate that Shaw's commander, the late Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), was forced to choose between sacrificing some of her own troops and civilians or possibly losing everything.

Surviving that kind of experience turns soldiers into "razors," shorthand for smart, hard-edged realists, and when Shaw moves on to Galactica, she is named chief aide to new commander Lee Adama (Jamie Barber). Lee inherited the post from his legendary father (Edward James Olmos), which is only one burden with which the kid struggles.

Prominent as well in "Razor" are returnees like ace pilot Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff).

Viewers who find action sci-fi just gives them a headache, with great metal shapes hurtling across the screen into constant explosions, won't find respite in "Razor," which is full of that stuff. The nuances of the back story are also a little dense.

But the film does pretty well at poking under the sci-fi flash to find a basic tale of conflict and survival where nobody feels very good about what they do, but everyone knows it must be done.

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