Well, what a difference two weeks makes. A Call to Arms has just run on TNT and many of the predictions and theories that I stated in the Crusade rumors page have already come to pass. Make sure to read the rumors page before this to see what I mean.
A Call To Arms bridges the way between Babylon-5 and what will become Crusade. As is already apparent, the new series will be drastrically different from B5, if not entirely different. I'm sure hard core B5 fans out there know what I mean. You can definitely feel this change taking place. It is the total end of an era.
As stated earlier the length of Crusade is variable. It may take 5 years, but it may also be less or more. This is now plot-apparent seeing that the plague on earth has an unknown gestation period. There will also be affects on some people before five years which means there might be an incentive to get a cure before that point. On the other hand earth technology may delay the inevitable, allowing the deadline to be extended.
DEFINITE STARBLAZERS IDEAS:
I can now confirm, after watching A Call, that Crusade was derived on some level from Starblazers influence. Its quite exciting to see this duality taking shape. The Excalibur's front end does indeed house a main gun, far more powerful than any yet encountered in the conventional B5 universe. This super weapon uses four laser cutting guns in level one mode and in level two an energy beam of massive power is sent from the tri-wings in the rear and focused on the front end to create the super weapon.
So, we now confirm the comparison with the Argo (also called the Yamato) that was the ship in the cartoon starblazers. However, the comparisons go deeper than ever before imagined.
Not only does the location of the super-weapon match, but also the results of using that weapon. After the Argo fired its reflex main gun at full strength, all power in the Argo was lost for a period, leaving the ship vulnerable. And low and behold we now see that the Excalibur has the same main gun problem (after firing it looses power for a minute). How wonderful. This creates a wonderful plot point. The crew of the Excalibur just cant go around blowing up things...there is a price to be paid. Here Here.
Seeing the Excalibur in more detail, the design also reflects a few more structural points of the Argo. There are a number of secondary guns mounted near the mid-point, and the bridge is located just about where it was on the Argo. Once again, how wonderful. Here Here.
DEATH OF THE VICTORY:
As predicted, the sister prototype ship was destroyed, leaving Excalibur as the lone destroyer. Didn't think it would be around too long. It will take a minimum of four more years to build another (due to the fact the end of B5 season five to A Call took four years).
As mentioned the excalibur has two levels of main guns which all use the front end of the ship to fire. This means, for now, that the ships main guns can only fire in one direction. We see no multi-lateral capability as of yet in the main guns; however, the unique shape of the forward area may mean the ship can redirect its main fire. An array of secondary guns are at front which are capable of firing to side in a slicing method. These guns may draw power from the front facing guns. There are also a number of secondary cannons towards the rear of the ship which can be pivoted.
Three wings extend from back, much like a Minbari ship. They are equiped on the end with what can best be destribed as nacells for propulsion. The rear of the ship looks to be by far the most vulnerable. The ship is also inherantly thin at all sectors which also makes it vulnerable in large scale attacks. The center portion, where all areas meet and where the bridge is located seems to be the safest point.
Mobility seems to be a major issue. The ship takes quite a long time to turn and is obviously bulky. The majority of conventional B5 ships could run rings around it. It seems to use brute force to get its point across.
The interior takes a drastic turn from B5 design. Color schemes are very different and the consoles are also quite new. The rumor is that B5 Productions is building even better sets for the series so we could see an alteration of what was seen in A Call. However, what we saw of the interior was very impressive.
The technomages were not very important in the B5 universe up to this point. They were a bit of an afterthought. However, it would seen we are going to learn alot about them in the coming years. Galen looks like a terrific character with shades of Marcus, Byran and The Enquisitor, and may I add Kosh. Looks like he's going to be the character which has the share of the best and most memorable lines.
RANGERS AND WHITSTARS:
It was previously thought that the Excalibur would go out into the galaxy on its own looking for a cure for earth; however, from A Call we now think that this may not be the case, at least to a point. It is apparent that the Whitestar fleet will be searching along with the Rangers and the Excalibur will be following up on leads that they produce. Although, I predict as the series goes on we will see the Excalibur out there alone quite a bit and will definitely be in a majority of situations where they have to fight alone or die. The Whitestars will likely have to stay close of home to defend the alliance while the excalibur goes out to deep space.
MUSIC: (1 STAR)
I have to say the music used in A Call was a bit disturbing to me. JMS stated a long time ago that Crusade will not use Christopher Franke as its composer because JMS wanted an entirely different feel to everything. Although I would agree that an entirely different tone is good I have some concerns about what I heard in A Call.
The music was distracting to a flaw and seems to be more important that the scenes too many times. I felt myself concentrating too many times to ignore it, which was difficult. B5's music was there but did not distract. A Call's music was very dark, which is what the movie was aiming for, however there were more subtle ways to accomplish this.
My wife had several things to say about the music: "I Hate This" , "This Music Sounds Like It Was Made By A Two Year Old" , and "I Hate This" several dozen more times during the movie.
Although I won't take such a sharp view here, I would say that at several points it did sound like someone was beating on a synthesizer randomly. Enough already. Bring down the volume of the music a bit so it fades into the background (which is where it should be; its called background music) and try to actually link notes together instead of randomly jumping.
ACTING: (4 STARS)
I have to say I thought Jerry Doyle and Bruce
did a terrific job of blending in with the new aspects that A Call threw
them. They made the transition terrifically and at no time did I
think they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The supporting
cast around them was by far better than average. The secondary characters
didn't mail in their lines; a fact that used to bug me about B5's one-timers...applause.
Galen looks and acts like he should. Mystical and secretive. Looks like a fine actor there.
PLOT: (3 STARS)
I must say this was a fitting sendoff for Crusade. It was a terrific bridge. There were a few points that bugged me. Sheriden was way to quick to fire the main gun so close to the NULL ZONE. He's not stupid. Also Drake's involvement with the Drahk was a bit comic-bookish (PS...take notice of the Drake-Drahk names). I serious doubt a man of such talent would build the prototypes and then turn around 360 at the last second and tell the Drahk about them, which it was obvious he did. If he had told them early about them they would have surely destroyed the ships in mid-construction. Furthmore, these were his babies, and there destruction or misuse was NOT in his interest. The treason is not plausible.
Overall though, I thought the story was terrifically constructed. We can see where JMS's energy was going. Nicely done.
CGI: (3 STARS)
Seeing B5 Productions was involved in so many things when this was created they did a terrific job with this movie. We see that jumpoints and gates now have a newly added electric charge feature. We can assume that this is just an added affect and has nothing to do with new technology. The prototypes moved bulky and we could feel it, which sometimes does not happen with CGI. The artists did a nice job of showing and feeling the size.