Article

CAPRICA (2009)

 



Caprica (2009)
 

Actors: Eric Stoltz, Michelle Andrew, Roger R. Cross, Magda Apanowicz, Genevieve Buechner, Esai Morales
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio:
1.78:1
Number of discs:
1
Studio:
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date:
April 21, 2009
Run Time: 93 minutes


Bonus features:

  • Feature Commentary with Director Jeffrey Reiner and Executive Producer/Writer Ronald D. Moore and Executive Producer David Eick
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Video Blogs
  • What the Frak is Caprica?
  • The Director's Process
  • The V Club
  • The Birth of a Cylon
     

Movie:
Disc:

 

Once upon a time, there was a doctor named Victor Frankenstein who thought he could conquer death.

It didn't turn out so well for him . . . not that his spiritual descendent Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) would ever notice. Graystone has a monster of his own to work on. Fueled by grief and the singular arrogance that only the truly brilliant possess, he's prepared to take a giant leap forward in the annals of scientific revolution. That cliff yawning beneath him doesn't even register.

So goes the pilot of Caprica, a quietly brilliant follow up to the equally masterful Battlestar Galactica reboot. Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick ostensibly hope to show the beginnings of their sci-fi universe - the creation of the Cylons some fifty years before the attack which wiped out human civilization - but they have more in mind than a simple spin-off. Caprica feels radically different than Battlestar in many ways, and yet it's still cut from the same cloth and its cerebral tone still belongs unmistakably to the same vision.

At its heart lies a tragedy eating away at Graystone's heart. His daughter Zoe (Alessandra Toreson) died in a terrorist attack triggered by monotheistic revolutionaries in the heart of the titular planet.

All of the money and fame he's earned pioneering technological marvels can't bring her back . . . or can it? Zoe, you see, was quite the chip off the old block, and developed a unique artificial intelligence which not only might aid her father's latest project (a vaguely familiar military robot of some sort) but could, in essence, restore her to life.

There's a few minor problems to overcome first, of course, which leads him to enlist the help of another powerful man: Joseph Adams/Adama (Esai Morales), a corrupt lawyer working for a Tauron criminal syndicate on Caprica. He lost his wife and daughter in the same explosion that claimed Zoe, and now struggles to raise his young son Willy by himself. Though obviously accustomed to devil's bargains, he initially balks at Graystone's overtures. The possibilities of what lies before them, however, prove too tempting to entirely cast aside.

The film divides its time between the two men's slow evaluation of each other and the source of the explosion which drove them together. BSG fans will recognize the seeds of several plot threads to come, and Caprica does an excellent job of capturing the little details that remind us we're not on Earth. As simple drama, it works exceedingly well, making up in emotional tension what it lacks in overt excitement. It scores its highest marks, however, in the ideas behind the storyline: ideas which made its predecessor so indisputably great.

Though hardly new (science fiction has a long history of artificial intelligence tales), Caprica lends them a fierce urgency by tying them into very primal human emotions. It frames the intellectual and ethical ramifications within the raw pain of a grieving father, a pain that makes monstrous decisions all too easy.

It also circles back on Battlestar's notions of faith, and the way fervent beliefs give rise to both good and evil. We see the foundation of the Cylons' strange religion, as well as the Colonial social prejudices which caused the future fleet so many difficulties.

Caprica lays them out with thoughtfulness and respect, and yet never succumbs to the pretentious intellectualizing which dogs so many similar science fiction endeavors. The characters remain at the forefront, devoid of Battlestar's white-knuckle desperation, but making up for it with a silent unease that slowly builds as the pilot goes on. Prequel it may be, but Caprica shows every sign of standing side by side with its predecessor as an equal: no less powerful for its obvious differences.

THE DISC: Considering the quality of the film itself, the disc comes across as a letdown. Besides running commentary from Moore, Eick and director Jeffrey Reiner, it contains only a handful of deleted scenes, some not-especially-interesting video blogs . . . and a random episode of SciFi's Ghost Hunters reality series. This egregious corporate overreach grates on the nerves, especially considering that they could have easily used that hour of disc space for something vaguely connected to the project. Come on guys! Give us an episode of BSG at the very least!

WORTH IT? You bet your frakking ass. BSG fans won't be disappointed, and those new to the franchise may find themselves surprised by the depth and complexity on display. The only downside is having to wait another year before the series shows up. (In a break with tradition Caprica will actually be released on DVD on April 21, 2009 well in advance of its broadcast premiere on the SCI FI Channel in 2010.)


- Rob Vaux


 



 

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