Universal have reportedly fast-tracked their big-screen reboot of Battlestar Galactica, bringing Bryan Singer on board to direct and co-produce. But is there any way in which this will end up being anything other than a well-intentioned failure?
Even if you're the greatest Bryan Singer fan in the world - and I'm sure someone out there saw Valkyrie and thought, "Man, if only this guy could have handled the Galactica reboot instead of that Roswell dude" - the idea of anyone handling a new version of Battlestar Galactica less than a year (Hell, it was announced less than six months) after the much-discussed, critically-inescapable finale of the then-SciFi Channel's version seems like a horrific misstep on the part of Universal and executive producer (and Galactica creator) Glen Larson. Why? Let us count the ways:
This Isn't Your Older Brother-By-About-A-Year's Battlestar Galactica
It's not just that audiences may wonder where Six, a female Starbuck or the notion of cylons that look like humans are in this proposed new version, so used are they to the concepts that Ron Moore brought to the franchise - concepts that Singer's threeboot won't be using, if reports are to be believed. It's that Moore's Battlestar Galactica ended up as much more than a television show; no matter how good Singer's version ends up being, there will be some sense of anti-climax because this version didn't get invited to the United Nations for a discussion about human rights that ended with a change to the UN charter. Trying to compete with that kind of impact isn't the smartest idea at the best of times, but seems like commercial suicide when it's announced so quickly after the event. Which leads to...
It's Just Too Soon
This is the part that really confuses me. I can understand Universal wanting to take advantage of what seems like a hot property, but it's the "And in order to do that, we shall throw out everything that made it work and start over" bit that I get stuck on. What made Moore's Galactica popular with both critics and audiences wasn't the core concept, but the execution; the original Galactica, after all, was canceled twice (Although you could easily make the argument that Galactica 1980 was a mercy killing), and it's not just because television audiences back then weren't in a downbeat, post-9/11 mindset. By abandoning Moore's take when it's not only so fresh in our minds, but the defining take in our minds, it's almost dooming Singer's version to failure before he's even started production. There's striking while the iron is hot, and then there's striking while there's already another iron there from last time, all the while telling us that that first iron doesn't really exist.
Yes, I may have strained my metaphor a little there.
The Singer Problem
Here's the thing: I know that I'm meant to be wowed by Bryan Singer's involvement, but I'm finding it hard to be too excited about the director of Superman Returns bringing that same fan-fiction mentality - and I say that as one of the few people who liked that movie - to Galactica. There was something about Superman that suggested that, when he's too close to a property, the sureness of something like The Usual Suspects (or even X-Men) is lost to nostalgia, a feeling that isn't helped by what's already leaked out about Singer's failed attempt to reboot the show for television. Also, is it so wrong that I can't shake the feeling that Singer's best contribution to the world of entertainment has been producing House MD instead of anything he's actually directed...
In the end, the feeling behind any plan to make a Battlestar Galactica movie that isn't directly connected to Ron Moore's version is just confusion. I'm not excited, I'm not feeling like my childhood has been raped, I'm just... confused as to why it seemed like a good idea now. And I get the feeling that I'm not alone in feeling that way. We'll see if Singer and company can work past that, and create something that people will want to pay money to see.