Battlestar Galactica (1978)

battlestar galactica poster 1978 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Better visuals than you'd expect

So-so cast and story doesn't feel complete since it is a pilot

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Battlestar Galactica

Studio:  Glen A. Larson Productions/Universal Television

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 7, 1978 (Canada)/April 12, 1979 (UK)/May 18, 1979 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

battlestar galactica imperious leader patrick macnee

So…is this “Battlestar Galactica” going to be a problem…I’ve got you Cyclons to stop problems like this

The robotic Cylons are a threat to the Twelve Colonies, but a recent olive branch has been offered by the Cylons to end the war…unfortunately, the Cylons offer is a secret cover for a full scale attack.  Now, Battlestar Galactica is the only surviving battleship and the survivors of the Twelve Colonies find themselves on the run.  Searching for the mythic Thirteenth Colony on a planet called Earth, a trip to a pleasure planet called Carillon could be deadly mistake.

Directed by Richard A. Colla, Battlestar Galactica is a science-fiction action-adventure.  The film premiered internationally before being released on television on September 17, 1978.  The movie was broken up into three episodes for future TV airings and syndication.  The film was reedited and released in theater in 1979 after the series aired.

For me, Battlestar Galactica was always there much like Star Wars, but unlike Star Wars, I didn’t have much of a feel for it.  I know that I was happy to catch it on occasion as a kid because before VCRs, it was the closest you could get to seeing something like Star Wars on TV.  The most vivid memory of Battlestar Galactica comes from this film in the form of the insectoid Ovions which were the subject of a puzzle I had.

battlestar galactica boxy noah hathaway muffit ii daggit

Oh, you crazy daggit!

Despite always being a “second rate Star Wars”, Battlestar Galactica actually shows some strength in the movie.  It faced lawsuits form 20th Century Fox over the similarities to Star Wars, but Star Wars also took many classic “space opera” aspects into its film.  The biggest problem with the Battlestar Galactica movie is that it flows like a TV pilot.  There are a few distinct parts and the film’s resolution feels even less finished than something like Star Wars.  Despite dipping into the ideas of food supply and water supply, the film doesn’t get to explore many “science fiction” aspects and is more of a fantasy film.

The cast also feels a bit second rate.  While it boasts Bonanza star Lorne Greene as the star power, most of the series rests of Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch who are fair but show room for improvement.  The film features appearances by Lew Ayres, Ray Milland, and Rick Springfield (as the doomed Zac), but these are largely smaller, supporting roles.  Jane Seymour is also seen as a “regular” in this film as a romantic interest for Hatch’s Apollo, but she also is a means to inject a kid friendly aspect to the series with Noah Hathaway as Boxy (along with his daggit Muffit II (played by a chimpanzee who had some great outtakes).

battlestar galactica cassiopeia laurette spang ovions

Excuse me…we’re trying to consume this human steak. Can you give us a minute?

What is good is the special effects.  Despite being for TV initially, the special effects are quite strong and obviously borrowed from the shooting style and skill of Star Wars.  The designs of the Cylons and the ships are still iconic, and I loved the four eyed women and the Ovions.  It doesn’t look low budget (especially for the time), and it looks even better in modern, cleaned-up high definition transfers.

Battlestar Galactica the movie is so-so, but it is a lead-in to a series that was actually slightly better than might expect (though the series only ran one season).  The movie plants the seeds to that season and the much later Battlestar Galactica relaunch which like this is a fun ride if you let it play out (ok, the end is pretty questionable).  Battlestar Galactica has endured over the years, and another Battlestar Galactica is never out of the question.

Related Links:

Battlestar Galactica—The Mini-Series

Battlestar Galactica:  The Plan (2009)

Battlestar Galactica:  Blood and Chrome (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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