Review by Leonard Norwitz
Blu-ray: MGM Home Entertainment
Runtime: 98 min.
Size: 25 GB
Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case
Release date: July 29, 2008
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: AVC @ 19.5 MBPS
English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless; English, French &
Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround
English and Spanish
• Audio Commentary by Producer/Writer Brad Wright &
Director Martin Wood
• Featurette: The Making of Stargate Continuum (22:35)
• Featurette: Stargate Goes to the Arctic (21:53)
• Featurette: The Layman's Guide to Time Travel (9:19)
Made-for-TV movies derived from a TV series are not all
that common. "Direct-to—Video" movies less so.
Historically viewed as of lower quality than theatrical
films, such movies are gradually becoming more common as
artistic and production quality improves. What we look
for and hope for here is a movie that indulges in the
basic and unique themes of the series, is as good or
better than one of its good episodes, and that doesn't
feel like it's longer just for the sake of being longer.
Occasionally we find such a movie that can stand by
itself, even for those unfamiliar with the storyline and
characters. The new movie should allow for its own
closure; and, if the producers are really cleaver, might
even introduce a concept that permits a continued
spinning out of the storyline for future expansion of
the franchise (especially now that the SG-1 has seen its
last season). It goes without saying that the movie
ought not violate past situations: it may introduce new
characters, but can't raise a dead character to life out
of the time line without a convincing explanation.
Production values should be high enough that the movie
could conceivably play theatrically, though that's
highly unlikely in this case – or at the very least,
look great in HD video. Stargate Continuum steps up to
these challenges and delivers a respectable, if not
Stargate SG-1 has maintained a high level of competence
out of the box from its launch on Showtime in 1997 until
its move to the Sci-Fi Channel several years later, when
production levels fell along with the budget.) The
series, developed by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner,
picked up roughly where the original theatrical film
with Kurt Russell and James Spader left off - with Col.
Jack O'Neil and Galactic archaeologist, Dr, Daniel
Jackson, now played by Richard Dean Anderson (who has
also served as executive producer for about half the
episodes) and Michael Shanks. They also added three
worthy characters: Captain Samantha Carter is played by
Amanda Tapping as the no-nonsense second in command on
stargate missions. She has a Ph.D. in Theoretical
Astrophysics with more than a passing close encounter
with alien beings and technologies. Teal'c (Christopher
Judge) is a Jaffa who once served the System Lord
Apophis but defected in order to free his people from
enslavement by the Goa'uld. Teal'c is even more stoic
than Spock. In command of the Stargate project is Maj
General Hammond (Don S. Davis, who died only a few weeks
Over its ten seasons to date, Stargate SG-1 (which has
garnered 4 Saturn awards, 2 Geminae, 9 Leos, and 8 Emmy
nominations) has discovered a galaxy filled with
stargate portals and managed to locate enemies to our
species and other free sprits in the universe that
fascinate the imagination without insulting all reason.
In much the same way as Star Trek graduated its
adversaries from Romulans and Klingons to the Borg,
Stargate SG-1 discovered first the Goa'uld, then the
Replicators, and in more recent series, the Ori, all
whose penchant for careless annihilation or calculated
enslavement is boundless.
Ever a valuable resource to learn about background, I
refer you to Wikipedia
The Movie : 6.5
Stargate: The Ark of Truth was the first "Direct-to
-DVD" movie to come out of the series and picked up
where SG-1 left off. It arrived on shelves two weeks
before it aired as a TV-movie and only three months
before this new movie. Stargate Continuum is likewise
being released as a Direct-to-DVD movie, though also in
blu-ray, which Ark was not. Unlike Ark, Continuum is
more a standalone episode, and is directed at followers
of the series, rather than the uninitiated. (I don't
think your average newbie will make much sense of the
concept of Goa'uld symbiote enslavement or extraction.)
In addition to inter-galactic travel permitted by the
Stargates, the TV series enjoys a certain measure of fun
with alternate time lines (entertainingly discussed by
astrophysicist Jaymie Matthews in the bonus feature "The
Layman's Guide to Time Travel"). It is this aspect of
Continuum that is placed front and center. Team Leader,
Lt Col. Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), Col. Samantha
Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson. and Teal'c are joined by
Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black) and Col. O'Neil for a
ceremony that promises to be the final Goa'uld
extraction from no less an enemy than Ba'al himself. But
Ba'al has other plans that would eliminate SG-1 before
they even get started – thus the alternate time line. In
the nick of time, so to speak, Mitchell, Jackson and
Carter make good an escape that leads them back in our
present time, but on a stranded freighter in the arctic.
They're really not dressed for the occasion.
Once rescued, no one – not even O'Neil, Major General
Landry (Beau Bridges) or Lt. General Hammond (Don S.
Davis in his final appearance on this earth) recognize
these travelers for who they are, since they are now in
a different time line, namely prior to the start of
SG-1. Teal'c and Doran are also therefore
pre-extraction. It all makes for some fascinating
interactions, not least between Doran (now, Qetesh) and
Ba'al, and some deep thinking on the parts of Carter,
Mitchell and Jackson if they are to set things right
before the "inevitable" invasion by Ba'al. The fact that
they have no working stargate at this point is only one
of their challenges.
The first numbers indicates a range relative level of
excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten-point
scale. The second number places this image along the
full range of DVDs, including SD 480i.
Some scenes are of near-demonstration quality, with
stunning sharpness and deep blacks on a megacolor
palette, but most of the movie is merely decent, with an
odd fuzziness as if the focus is not quite right.
Elsewhere, some frames are not at all good – I'm
thinking of what looks like footage of jet fighters
taken from a commercial airliner by a casual passenger's
video camera. These come and go quickly, but the
contrast between such bits and the movie in general is
jolting. Not as bad, but not so good either is most of
the arctic footage, which is simply indistinct. The
production might have been better served with special
effects. The faux-1939 effects of the stranded freighter
and other related bits are, to put it charitably,
unconvincing. I haven't seen the 480i DVD, but given
what I see here and despite the problematic bits, the
Blu-ray is likely to be much the preferred way to
Audio & Music:
Despite the uncompressed DTS HD track, dialogue often
sounds detached from the environment, and surround
information feels more arbitrary than discrete.
MGM moves us into the menu shortly after loading, which
is easy to navigate.
I would have liked more story background from the
producer/director commentary. They preferred to discuss
technical issues and what worked and what didn't work so
well. This theme was echoed in a more personal way by
the Making-Of featurette that had lively interviews with
cast and crew. The arctic featurette was more like home
movies. I found the "Layman's Guide to Time Travel"
fascinating, never having thought that certified
scientists gave the idea much credit.
Any fan of the series should enjoy this movie/episode.
The Blu-ray does well enough, I imagine about on a par
with HD broadcast.
July 25th, 2008