Weekend Movie Review – “Babylon 5: The Lost Tales – Voices In The Dark”

Babylon 5 is back, but is it back as it was during its five year run, back as it was for Legend of the Rangers, or something in between? I’ll tell you know that it falls in between, but you’ll have to read on to find out which end it’s closer to.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Bruce Boxleitner as John Sheridan
Tracy Scoggins as Elizabeth Lochley
Peter Woodward as Galen
Keegan MacIntosh as Prince Vintari
Bruce Ramsay as Simon Burke
Alan Scarfe as Father Cassidy
Teryl Rothery as ISN Reporter Chamber

Written and directed by J. Michael Straczynski

Premise

This release is, effectively, two thematically similar episodes edited together and set at the same time (9 years after the second last episode of the series). In the first, Lochley calls in a priest to deal with what appears to be demonic posession. In the second, Galen encourages Sheridan to kill a Centauri Prince to avert a future in which said Prince devastates Earth as part of an attempt to bring the Centauri republic back to its former glory.

High Point

Of the movie itself, Sheridan’s confrontation with the reporter demonstrates so many of the elements that made Babylon 5‘s writing so effective, including planning, probing into the emotional cores of the characters and the societies they represent, small moments on huge landscapes, and effective wit. Of the entire DVD release, the “In Memorium” features about Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs are extremely well done, and say more about the closeness of the crew that they chose to produce featurettes instead of simply putting their names in a dedication in the credits.

Low Point

The green reflection so often visible on the actors as they played on the virtual sets. The sets themselves were very well done; if not for the green reflections, I wouldn’t have known that some of the sets were virtual until I watched the bonus features. This is part of the reason the visible green was such a problem.

The Scores

This is original in the sense of telling a story not previously told in this universe. However, it’s still another addition to the Babylon 5 universe. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were, all in all, pretty good. The green reflections were an irritant, but they were often the only sign that the sets weren’t really there. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is excellent. Of all of the post-series movies, this is easily my favourite. We’ve got two well written stories with a common theme, both of which feel like they belong in this universe. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is just as it was before. Woodward, Boxleitner and Scoggins slipped back into their roles fairly quickly. (Scoggins was a little hesitant in her second scene, but the rest of her performance was all there.) The guest stars delivered their performances well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is great. The first story has some genuinely scary moments. The G’Kar opening and later references to G’Kar and Dr. Franklin delivered resounding emotional responses, as they were perfect tributes to the actors involved. The second story delivers what we’ve come to expect from the universe: resiliance, hope and determination in the face of impending doom. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production was fairly well done. I wonder about why some choices were made in the first conversation between Father Cassidy and Lochley, as Lochley spent a lot of time delivering her dialogue while viewed from behind, but that was soon overcome. The first meeting with Burke was interesting to watch largely because of the production. It’s the third scene in a row that is little more than conversation among unmoving characters, so the camera moves frequently to make up for that. I suspect Straczynski’s accumulation of comic writing experience, in which he had to “direct” action a panel at a time, helped him improve his visual style in ways that help his live direction, as well. I don’t remember seeing any camera work like this in any of his other directorial work. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a worthy addition to the universe of Babylon 5, and much more enjoyable than some of the other movies. Fans should be very happy with the final result. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales – Voices In The Dark receives 34 out of 42.

3 replies on “Weekend Movie Review – “Babylon 5: The Lost Tales – Voices In The Dark””

  1. Trekkie says:

    This was wonderful, and frustrating.
    To me this was a double edged sword. As a one off years after production ended I thought they slipped back into that universe beautifully. Both of the stories were things I love about the original five seasons.

    On the other hand, it reminded me of why I’ve not watched TNT since season 5 / crusade debacle ended and how frustrating it is to see certain shows that just strike a perfect chord with you cut down and destroyed by morons that run networks.

    TNT and Fox Networks both enjoy a DO NOT WATCH ban on my receivers. Wish there was a way I could make them not be sent to my house even.

  2. smeep says:

    Not the best greenscreen work
    I didn’t really notice the reflection as much, but yikes, some of the sets were very apparent that they weren’t live sets. The docking bay was particularly bad. I mean REALLY bad. And for some reason, they kept going back to it. Maybe I’m just used to more quality work on something like 300, that when I see it in a smaller production, it really ends up throwing you out of the universe.

    The stories, in my opinion, were a little weak. The first one was more or less throw away, and while it had an interesting concept, it really seemed like filler to me. There wasn’t much time to develop any characters, and the story even less so. The second was a better story, but really just seemed like an episode. Which, isn’t bad per se, but, for some reason, I expected a bit more. And Galen seemed a bit out of character to how JMS has had him in the past. Overall, I have to say that it felt very small. I’m used to more grandiose stories in this universe.

  3. OrangeCarrot says:

    Incredible Waste

    Overall, this is a worthy addition to the universe of Babylon 5, and much more enjoyable than some of the other movies. Fans should be very happy with the final result. I give it 5 out of 6.

    I was a fan of B5 when it was just rumblings on the early Interweb. I loved the shift it caused in recent SciFi, of making larger story arcs with smaller episodic stories mixed in. I watched the series with the dedication of a browncoat.

    This, however, was a huge disappointment. I think there were maybe two physical sets and three of the characters from the series. I kept hoping that it would get better, but as every minute passed my feelings turned more and more toward boredom. Even if you go back and try to mix these into the series somewhere I can’t see how they’d have any legs to run.

    It was just one longwinded scene after another, and the dialog was not very engaging or smooth. I didn’t feel as if I were watching the B5 universe, it felt more like something a film student put together and threw up on YouTube. The effects were nice, but even shots of the outside of the station were reused throughout the stories.

    I’d love to see the series return in some form, but something better than this creation. I’d rather watch LotR’s pilot three times than see this once.

    I think the review here is pretty generous.

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