Death, slavery. More slavery, more death
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 01/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The ending of the "Stargate SG-1" TV show left some threads dangling -- the last Goa'uld System Lord was still in hiding, and the Ori were still threatening the world.
Fortunately those threads are more or less tied up in the two direct-to-DVD movies that followed: "Stargate: The Ark of Truth" and "Stargate: Continuum." While they don't quite have the unique flavour of the TV series, these movies do bring back all the favorite characters (and some departed villains) in a double finale to its winding stories.
"The Ark of Truth" is an Ancient device that brainwashes people -- and SG-1 is searching for it, where they run into Vala's ex-hubby Tomin (who ends up teaming up with them). But soon they have a lead on where the Ark might be, and head for Celestis in the hopes of finding a bloodless method of stopping the Ori once and for all.
Unfortunately they have a slew of new problems -- Ori motherships are approaching Earth with the intent to convert or destroy, a nasty IOA rep has created and loosed a very familiar enemy on the Odyssey, and Vala's malevolent daughter Adria has gained godlike power. Fortunately SG-1 has a powerful ally of their own.
And once again, there is time-twisting with "Continuum." SG-1 and General Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) are watching the execution and extraction of Ba'al... but unfortunately, it's not the real Ba'al. The real Ba'al has time-traveled and altered the timeline, causing Teal'c (Christopher Judge), Vala (Claudia Black) and the Tok'ra to vanish, and resulting in Jack's death.
Unfortunately, this alternate timeline becomes more perilous after a year -- Earth is being threatened by the supreme System Lord Ba'al, his queen Qetesh (in Vala's body) and his First Prime Teal'c. But when Qetesh and Ba'al clash over his past on Earth, the altered SG-1 must band together to find and destroy Ba'al's time machine, and somehow restore the timeline to what it once was.
"Stargate: The Ark of Truth" and "Stargate: Continuum" are basically intended to wrap up loose ends, and as such they're not quite as satisfying as the television show was. "Ark of Truth" sometimes feels rather rushed and has a somewhat out-of-the-blue solition, and "Continuum" may need multiple viewings to keep up with the time-bouncing plotline.
But as finales they're solid pieces of work -- lots of action, space battles, mysterious artifacts, and a way bigger budget that a TV episode would ever have allowed. And they both have everything that you'd expect from "Stargate SG-1" -- pop culture homages ("Star Wars"!), some recurring characters (Apophis!), and alien nasties with overwhelming power. There's even some subtle moral dilemmas about belief and fighting the Ori followers.
It also has excellent scripting: plot threads drawn from the TV series, witty dialogue ("That is, after all, why we've come. Why we had to endure all of that singing. Get rid of the last bad guy and then there's cake"), and some nice quiet moments, such as Teal'c talking with Tomin about their bloodstained pasts. And they manage to throw some interesting twists at the audience, such as a shocking revelation about the Ori.
And seeing the actors as their SG-1 characters is like putting on a comfortable old shoe. Amanda Tapping and Michael Shanks are suitably brilliant and courageous, and Ben Browder gets to shine especially in "Continuum" as a strong, slightly quirky soldier. Christopher Judge gets to shine in "Ark of Truth" as a powerful, wise warrior, and Black gets to be both funny and emotional.
And of course, Richard Dean Anderson utterly steals the show whenever he appears ("Hey, have you ever tried to find a bathroom in a pyramid?") and Tim Guinee has a good smallish role as Tomin.
It's a little sad to see the main storylines of the Stargate universe end, but "Stargate: The Ark of Truth" and "Stargate: Continuum" are well worth seeing. Nice finales."
Two Suprisingly Great Moview At One Good Price
M. Herzog | chicago | 08/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll be the first to admit I wasn't looking forward to the straight to dvd stargate movies. While I enjoyed the show, I wasn't expecting much from them. But it turned out Stargate prospered with the bigger budget! The first, ark of truth is the conclusion to the ori story. Though it started slow, it really picked up, and turned into a monstrously entertaining movie. Though I wish it could have been a few episodes (or instead a full season), what they did was very good, and a good conclusion to the Ori story.
As to Continuum, I was suprised with how much fun it was. Given the time travel nature of the story, I thought the fact that the show brought back feelings from so many seasons was a great effect. They also brought back old characters, including Goul'd Lords, who I haven't seen in years. Though the story was full of holes (like most time travel pieces) it was very interesting. For those wondering the difference between this and the seperate releases, there are none. They just put the discs in one new case, so if you have them both, you don't need to buy it again."
Enjoyable 2 disc set of movies with so-so extras
Pamela R. Heath | Bay Area, CA | 03/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set comes as two separate blu-ray disc, one for each movie. They do not have any more extras than appear on the individual DVD sets. The transfer quality was excellent for "The Ark of Truth," a bit less so for "Continuum." However, even "Continuum" looked decent on my HDTV. Sound quality was good for both movies.
Let me say a word about the movies themselves. I loved "The Ark of Truth." I found it's storyline and ending deeply satisfying. It had an interesting plot, was visually stunning in blu-ray, gave a number of the actors nice scenes, and tied up all the loose ends and unanswered questions in a really nice way. Is there anything I disliked in the film? A few things. I would have shortened the long helicopter intro and cut out at least half of Judge's character walking, walking, and doing more walking. However, there's more a lot more right with the movie than wrong with it. Michael Shanks, in particular, has a remarkable scene when his character Daniel Jackson finally reaches his breaking point. His despair is appropriate given the circumstances he is in -- jailed in another universe, abandoned by his ship, with one of the team thought dead, and tortured for no other reason than to make him suffer. His loss of hope, and how he finds the strength to move forward again, is all the more powerful because throughout the series, Daniel has always been tenacious and insanely optimistic. His crisis of faith is beautifully filmed and deeply moving. Shanks really brings it home, and it has become my favorite scene in the movie. All in all, I'd give "The Ark of Truth" more than 5 stars if I could.
"Continuum" is another matter. It is really hard to pull off a good time travel story. This does a fair job, has some nice moments, but on my first viewing, I felt it didn't quite pull it off, despite a wonderful scene where the survivors of SG1 meet the alternate universe Jack O'Neil. I also liked Michael Shank's scenes of finding a book written by his alternate self, and his attempt to encourage that other him by a long-distance phone call (I wished we'd seen the alternate him's reactions there). Shanks had some good lines, including "Are there any grown ups I can speak to?" to a Russian soldier. The actor, William Devine, who plays the US president is also excellent. My rating? I would say 3 and a half stars if seen by itself, and 4 stars if viewed after listening to the commentary track.
I need to say a word about the extras. They were disappointing to say the least. No deleted scenes. No bloopers. No alternate endings (although these were mentioned in the commentary tracks). "The Ark of Trust" had the worst commentary track I've ever heard. Really, really boring. They should NEVER have had the director of photography and director do the commentary. Perhaps they thought adding Christopher Judge would help. It didn't. All they did was talk about the camera lenses they used, the cost of the shots, etc. while Judge congratulated them on what a great job they had done. Hardly a word about the story, actors, or things that happened on the set. I kept thinking that sooner or later they HAD to talk about something more interesting...but there were only about 5-10 minutes worth of it that wound up worthwhile. The alternate track for "Continuum" proved to be the opposite, despite not involving any actors. In this case, the Director and author of the script provided a lively, fun, and insightful commentary, full of interesting anecdotes. It actually made the movie more interesting, so that when I watched it again, I realized "Continuum" was better than I'd felt the first time. The only other extra I enjoyed was the mini-summary/series review that you could run before "The Ark of Truth," which caught you up to date on what had happened up to that point. It was very well done and came out great on blu-ray.
I do not regret buying this set, although I'm glad I paid Amazon's discounted rate for it. Of the two, I really enjoyed the first movie more than the second, and may never watch any of the "extras" again. I really can't help thinking they could have at least given us a deleted scene or two and the alternate ending they nearly did for "The Ark of Truth." I don't see that it would have been that hard. Now days, every movie knows not to toss that footage out. I also would have liked a commentary by Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, and some of the other actors. As it is, the extras come across as really poor for something on blu-ray. Because of that, I'm giving it 4 stars.
Continuum and Ark of Truth - Good Episodes, Not Overwhelming
APerry | Birmingham, AL | 03/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a major Stargate fan and owner of almost all episodes of the series, I was slightly disappointed with both of these titles. As regular episodes, I believe they were great but to set them out as separate movies really created expectations that they did not live up to. I was really looking forward to seeing Richard Dean Anderson in the Continuum but he may have been on screen for a total of 15 minutes. Continuum focused on Sam, Daniel and Cam mainly leaving the other characters as occasional images in the story. As a time travel story it was good but as with most stories using that tool it leaves you questioning how it could have happened that way. Ark of Truth overall was a better story and helped complete the series as it should have been done. Overall, both movies had great action, team work and continued the story lines where they ended from the TV series. I would recommend it for fans of the series but those of you who have never seen the series will probably be lost and not enjoy it nearly as much."