Sunday, December 2, 2007


I finally watched the interim Battlestar Galactica movie "Razor." And I have so say... really good. It covers some great material, including how the Pegasus responded to the initial attacks on the colonies, how the crew discovered the Cylon spy among them, Admiral Cain's war crimes, etc. Plus, we're introduced to some weird offshoot of the Cylons who never evolved from their 1979 form. Totally old school toasters. It rules.

But you know what I hate? It's the way sci-fi, even good sci-fi, is usually dismissed by entertainment reviewers. They always seem to set sci-fi apart from every other form of entertainment, intimating that it's just for kids or nerds and therefore doesn't need to be taken as seriously.

Here's an example from the Denver Post's review of "Razor":

Adoring fans claim "BSG" is a high- minded series dealing with humanity's struggle for survival and lapses into barbarism.

The rest of us dismiss it as a "Star Trek" clone, a revamped version of the 1970s original, with updated sex-and-violence eye candy and men barking "Yessir" to women in command.

That's pretty obnoxious. Couldn't a decent reviewer, particularly one who's admittedly not an adoring fan, actually assess whether it's a "high-minded series dealing with humanity's struggle for survival and lapses into barbarism"? Does the reviewer (Joan Ostrow) have to wink at "the rest of us" to say that it's no different from any other show that takes place in space?

Either Ostrow doesn't know it or doesn't want to admit she knows it, but there is an extraordinary range of material within the sci-fi genre. Some of it flat out sucks. ("Galactica: 1980" comes to mind.) Some of it, notably like the current BSG, is cutting edge socio-political commentary. Can you imagine a review of "Gladiator" that went like the following:
Adoring fans say it's a high-minded movie about duty, revenge, and a soldier's struggle to restore order to an empire. The rest of us dismiss it as a revamped version of the gladiator films of the 1960s, with updated sex-and-violence eye candy and men dying in skirts. You make the call!
No, we wouldn't accept that. But somehow action movies can be taken seriously for their content, while sci-fi can't.

Oh, here's how Ostrow finishes up her otherwise positive review of "Razor":
Is this a good time to join the "BSG" journey? In the end, "Razor" may be a two- hour layover during which we decide not to take the rest of the 22-episode trip.

1 comment:

lidzville said...

Ungh, yeah. The first movies, period, were based on Jules Verne and HG Wells material. I can't imagine that was accidental.