Stargate Continuum [Blu-ray]

 

(Martin Wood, 2008)

 

 

 

 

On March 3rd, 2009 - both Stargate: The Ark of Truth/Stargate: Continuum Blu-rays are being offered together in one package.

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: MGM

Blu-ray: MGM Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 98 min.

Chapters: 24

Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: July 29, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 19.5 MBPS

 

Audio:

English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless; English, French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English and Spanish

 

Extras:

• 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)

 

 

The Film:

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 stellar product.

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 ago.)

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 HERE:

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.
 

Image: 7~5/8
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 travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 6/7
Despite the uncompressed DTS HD track, dialogue often sounds detached from the environment, and surround information feels more arbitrary than discrete.

 

Operations: 8
MGM moves us into the menu shortly after loading, which is easy to navigate.

 

Extras: 5
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.

 

 

Bottom line: 7
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.

Leonard Norwitz
July 25th, 2008

 

 

 

 

On March 3rd, 2009 - both Stargate: The Ark of Truth/Stargate: Continuum Blu-rays are being offered together in one package.

 


 

 

 





 

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