May 5, 2009

Justify My Netflix: Caprica

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Caprica

Today's movie: Caprica, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it's the latest project by genre master Ronald Moore, a prequel of sorts to his massively popular Battlestar Galactica, detailing the story of how and why the evil robots known as Cylons were created in the first place, and which also happens to double as an O.C. style hot-teenager family drama. Because under an ingenious marketing scheme, the movie was released on DVD the same exact moment long before(!) it started airing on the Sci Fi Channel, and I'm a sucker for ingenious marketing schemes that let me watch movies on DVD at the same time they're in theatres or on cable television.

The reality: So were you a fan of the groundbreaking, Peabody-winning Battlestar Galactica? Then ooh, you're going to be a fan of Caprica too, which like its predecessor uses the tropes of science-fiction to actually present a dark and serious human-interest drama, one that concentrates as much on complex character development as it does spaceships and laser guns. Ultimately the story of the mad scientist (Eric Stoltz) who eventually creates what turns out to be the main villain of the original Galactica series, as well as the crooked lawyer who helps him secure the necessary parts from his competitors (Esai Morales, playing William Adama's father of all things), this "five minutes in the future" show also delves heavily into the concepts of virtual reality and massively multiplayer online environments (or MMOs, such as Second Life for example), and in fact one of the major conceits of the entire series (a dead daughter brought back to life as a photorealistic five-sense avatar) is predicated on such technology. But at the same time, the show makes numerous references back to the original series; we see the first stirrings of the monotheism vs polytheism debate, see the complicated way their society views artificial intelligence, see the inherent conflicts that come with humanity being scattered across twelve different planets, each of them with their own distinct ideas of what it means to be "human." Plus I have to admit, I love the way that Moore manages to introduce lots of sexy teenagers and other prurient material* sure to bring glee to a conference table full of lazy, idiotic television executives, but without sacrificing the overall intelligence of the show; it's a remarkable feat in this Dumbed Down Era we're living through, as evidenced for example by the dismal remake of The Bionic Woman a couple of years ago by Moore's producing partner and the co-creator of Caprica, David Eick.

Strangest piece of trivia: This was actually pitched to the Sci Fi Channel as a standalone show by Remi Aubuchon (past writer on 24, Chicago Hope and more), but it had so many similarities to the existing Galactica that executives suggested he and Moore actually meet for the first time; it was because of that that the concept got slowly turned into an idea for a BSG spinoff.

Worth your time? Absolutely.

*And speaking of prurient material, wanna know the biggest reason for renting the DVD version, even if you do have cable television? 'Cause the DVD version has boobs! Lots of boobs! Like, at least twenty boobs! And even better, you see them all because of a scene set in a photorealistic MMO virtual sex-and-murder club! And even better than that, the nudity plays a legitimately important part in the story's plot! Man, it's a jarring thing to come across naked boobs in an American television show, something I wasn't expecting whatsoever.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:57 AM, May 5, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |