Sunday, January 20, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Razor—Unrated Extended Edition Review

Well it took us a good long while but FanBoyWonder finally got around to viewing the unrated, extended DVD of Battlestar Galactica: Razor.

Razor had first aired on the Sci-Fi Channel during Thanksgiving weekend before being released a couple of weeks later on DVD with additional scenes not included due to time restrictions on the original broadcast version.

We had actually purchased our copy of Razor in December—a present to ourselves as we shopped the stores in search of Christmas presents for our grandkids Brianna The Girl Wonder and Baby T.J. However, things have been quite hectic for us lately so only just FINALLY got a chance to watch the “unrated and extended” version of Razor last night.

To refresh everyone’s memory, here’s the Upshot from the Sci-Fi Channel and Universal Studios Home Entertainment: "Battlestar Galactica: Razor takes you on an edge-of-your-seat adventure with as it tells the story of Lee Adama's (Jamie Bamber’s) first mission as the commander of the Battlestar Pegasus — and the harrowing tale of that ship's desperate fight for survival in the immediate aftermath of the Cylon's genocidal siege of the Twelve Colonies.

Lee Adama's new XO, Major Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobson), is plagued by memories of her service and sacrifices under Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), who was able to save her ship during the Cylon attack — but only by making Shaw and her fellow officers rationalize suicidal battle tactics and brutal war crimes against their own people.

“In the crucible of war, Shaw must let her hesitation and doubts burn away, until all that remains of her is the honed edge of a living human weapon — what Colonial veterans call "a razor." But an edge so fine cuts in more than one direction. It can cleave an enemy to pieces … or it can carve away a person's soul.”

In our original review of the broadcast version, we noted that our disappointment with BSG Razor. Not that it was bad. As far as we’re concerned, compared to 95 percent of what’s out there, the worst episode of Battlestar Galactica is excellent.

For our original Razor review—click here:

Yet Razor did feel incomplete. Having viewed the extended version, the addition of a few select scenes and the extension of other scenes have gone a long way toward making Razor much more of a coherent stand-alone movie.

Unfortunately, the additional footage isn’t enough to make Razor a better story. At least not better than the Pegasus Trilogy of episodes during BSG’s second season—Pegasus and Resurrection Ship Parts 1 &2.

Extended Razor includes scenes that featured both a young William Adama (Nico Cortez) and a young Helena Cain (Kyra Scott) during the last day of the First Cylon War. The scenes featuring young Adama as a rookie Viper pilot—call sign “Husker”—that we had previously seen in the weeks leading up to the broadcast of Razor in the form of “webisodes.”

Husker’s scenes in the DVD make for a coherent movie but don’t add anything the overall story. Young Helena’s flashback however, was the most pivotal scene of the entire movie and we think it’s an absolute crime that it failed to make the broadcast cut.

Back on Tauron, one of the twelve colonies, 41 years earlier looking very much like Bosnia in the 1990s as the Cylons are rolling over the colony. As Cain family flee for their lives in-between mortar explosions and weapons fire, the Mother Cain is killed and Father Cain is mortally wounded—ordering young Helena (6 or 7 years old??) to get her and her younger sister Lucy to safety.

When Lucy stumbles in an open field with all Hell breaking loose—Lucy can’t get up either due to fear or wounds—Helena leaves her behind to hide from the Cylons. A Cylon Centurion bears down on a hiding Helena is about to pull the trigger when it mysteriously withdraws….they all do as we find out the Cylons and Colonies signed an armistice.

Helena goes back to find Lucy and only her broken and mangled doll remains. And in an instant it all becomes clear to us and we can read this character like a comic book. THAT’s why Cain is such an unrelenting hard charger—hardest most of all on herself.

In our original review, we had chided this character as presented in Razor as being little more than a bunch of different military clichés. Yet THIS ONE SCENE made it all come together and explained how someone could become “a razor.”

Fortunately, the one scene we DID NOT see more of and for which we are thankful is the actual “interrogation (read: ritualized rape and torture) of the version of Cylon Number Six named Gina (Tricia Helfer).

There are times when it’s best to allow certain parts of the narrative to be implied and frankly, there isn’t any way we can think of to show the breaking of a prisoner in the most inhumane way imaginable that wouldn’t be anything other than exploitive and a detraction from both this story and from the original Pegasus Trilogy.

Bottom Line: The “unrated and uncut” version of Battlestar Galactica: Razor raises the grade of this story from a solid “B” to a “B-Plus.” It’s not the best Galactica we’ve ever seen it’s still a worthwhile viewing experience. So say we all!


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