Yes, it’s not action packed and doesnt have some huge overall story. It’s basically two little morality/slice of life tales set in the B5 universe. Nothing is really added to the characters or universe, but the stories themselves are pretty interesting and entertaining. If you treat them as two episodes and compare them to B5 the series, they would be average, not classic, but not stinkers.
The first ‘episode’, which features Lochley trying to figure out what to do with a B5 resident who claims to be possessed, would probably get 3 stars – it is a bit too preachy and full of itself dealing, as it does, with religious themes.
The second ‘episode’ is better, featuring the return of Boxleitner as Sheridan. Returning to B5 for a celebration, Sheridan receives a visit from Galen who warns him of a terrible future catastrophe. Sheridan faces a tough moral choice: is it right to take a life to prevent that future? Dealing with Sheridan – a character with much more history and nuance than Lochley, it feels more substantial as does the story and I would give this four stars on it’s own.
Both stories suffer from the lack of a secondary cast to bring more background to the story, each one probably only has two or three speaking parts so instead of cutting away to other subplots or activities what we get is more of one straight plot.
Overall, if you are a B5 fan I would recommend this – it is talky and a little dry, but it’s much more in keeping and in the same tone as B5 proper, rather than the more campy Legend of the Rangers…
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First off: the special effects have never looked better, especially given how bad they looked on the DVD release of the original series.
That said, this is a disappointing offering. The low budget of this direct-to-DVD release really shows; the scenes in which characters talk about the people who won’t be able to make the 10-year anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance are painful. Okay, the actors who played G’Kar and Dr. Franklin have passed on, so that’s understandable. But then Garibaldi’s trying to make it but might not be able to get away from Mars; Emperor Mollari doesn’t want to leave the palace and sends a Centauri prince in his stead; and then it turns out Delenn is indisposed too (undoubtedly her turn as Crazy French Lady on “Lost” has raised Mira Furlan’s asking price significantly). From the original show, then, we get Boxleitner, Scoggins, and Peter Woodward (who, in case you don’t recognize the name, plays the technomage Galen); the rest are unknowns. (Props to Keegan MacIntosh, who plays the Centauri prince, for at least essaying something of an accent.) Christopher Franke returns to do the music and uses rather less of that “broinnngggg” synth sound he used to use.
The sets are spare; one scene takes place entirely in the “viewing room” of a Minbari starship, i.e., an empty soundstage lit with a couple of spotlights. The Babylon 5 station itself consists of a couple of rooms and a corridor and is so stripped down that it’s only recognizable because of its weird door shapes. All the sets look virtually abandoned due to the almost total lack of extras. There are fake people in the vast B5 docking bay — standing stock still — and there’s a huge crowd scene entirely off-camera. In one sequence, it’s clear the wardrobe budget was tight, too; they couldn’t afford to spring for vacuum suits, leaving Sheridan piloting a Starfury in a suit (shades of “Gattaca”). Lampshades are hung, but it’s impossible to ignore all the corners that were cut.
I could still be sucked in if the stories were any good, but unfortunately they are not. Most of the actors are a little rusty or stiff (except for Woodward, who is great) and both stories are very slowly paced, with little action — and in some places they are padded beyond credulity. I was ready to throw a shoe at Lochley and the priest with their incessant reiteration of each other’s conclusions. There’s a stunning space battle sequence and another dramatic CGI scene in New York, but the space battle is only a few seconds long and both scenes turn out to be, essentially, dream sequences. Footage is reused in flashbacks to things we just saw a few minutes previously. What we have here would have been a single episode of the original show (at 40-something minutes), and the utterly silly first story would have been the B-plot, just a problem to annoy Lochley as she prepared for Sheridan’s arrival — and it would have been far better that way. Even so, it would have been only an average episode at best.
I was a big supporter of B5 when it was originally on the air and still have my original “Accept No Substitutes” shirt that JMS offered to GEnie members. I am sure that JMS did the best he could with the resources he had, and can see that the series has the potential to improve in future installments as the actors settle in and they have the budget to build some additional sets. Unfortunately, this first release is not exactly going to bring people back for more. It may be argued that even low-budget B5 is better than no B5, but really, the show (while groundbreaking for its time) has been more than surpassed by its successors, any one of which you could watch instead (Firefly? Galactica?). Since this release fails to capture much of the original show’s feel, it’s not really even good for nostalgia. Two stars: one for attempting it at all, a second for the excellent CGI work (which doesn’t look low-budget).
Today is the 24th July 2007 and did I have a surprise parcel in the post this morning. I heard about Babylon 5 the Lost Tales several months ago and made sure that I pre-ordered it ASAP. I was surprised today because, I live in the UK, I’m British and have been a Babylon 5 fan since it first came to our screens in the mid 1990′s. I watched every episode when they were first shown in the UK on Channel 4, and the T.V movies that were shown on Sci-Fi and I have been eagerly awaiting new Babylon 5 since the ill-fated Crusade and Legend of the Rangers. This morning the new DVD came through my door.
I did not expect to receive it untill a few days after it’s release in the U.S. not a full week before. I have tried the DVD in my non-region free player and the disc plays perfectly. It does not seem to be region encoded, which is good news for those who wish to own it as a region 2 release date has yet to be announced.
The DVD is well packaged. The two stories told can be viewed induvidualy or as a whole movie. The rendering of the CGI is brilliant, I was very impressed. They re-did the destruction of Babylon 5 scene from Season 5 finale Sleeping In Light and it is breathtaking, the detail of the Station and the ships throughout Voices In The Dark are outstanding.
The movie starts off with a voice over from Andreas Katsulas, actually its a piece of dialogue from a Season 5 Episode and it is very moving, it is well placed and dramatic, a fitting opening. Then there is a montage of the Babylon 5 characters. I will not go into further detail of the story because I do not want to ruin it for the first time viewing experiance.
I have rated this DVD 4 stars for One reason only. The length of the feature, not including the opening montage and the end credits the story only lasts for 1hr and 10mins. It could have been fleshed out a bit more in length.
An excellent purchase for any fan and a great introduction for a new viewer. J.Michael Stracynski you have done this Babylon 5 fan proud, I look forward to future DVD releases.