So Stargate Continuum, the last (for now, anyway) made-for-DVD Stargate SG-1 movie came out a couple of days ago. I originally started watching the show about midway through its ten-season run and caught up on the episodes I’d missed in reruns on Sci-Fi. Though it wasn’t the same show by the time the final season rolled around, I was still sorry to see it go, so I gladly picked up the DVD. Without further ado, here’s a brief review. (Rhyme not intended.) This ought to be as spoiler-free as any of the ads are, so feel free to read on mostly safely…
An initial summation for those of you with no patience: I’d have to say it’s above average. It’s not great, but good, and enjoyable enough for the time it asks of us. With the Goa’uld once again as the main antagonists it’s actually quite reminiscent of the earlier seasons, especially when a number of familiar faces start showing up. I won’t say just who here–and there are a number of them–except to mention that it’s good to see (spoiler-text follows) the late Don S. Davis again.
But what’s that you say? Didn’t the Replicators utterly wipe out, put in a box, and stick a fork in the Goa’uld? (Yes, I can hear you; it’s the magic of the Interwebs!) Well, let’s just say that Baal’s a jerk, and he’s got a time machine.
Yes, it’s a time travel movie, which will likely turn some of you off, but even so it’s decently done. One thing I liked was how they came at it in part from an angle that’s not seen quite so much–that of the point of view of those people who’ve lived their lives in an alternate (and screwed up, from SG-1’s point of view) timeline. To them, it’s SG-1’s timeline that’s the alternate; they like their own just fine, thank you very much, and why the hell should they bother to help and mess up THEIR billions of lives? (As an alternate-Landry put it, “The arrogance of what you’re asking us to help you do is mind-boggling!”) Who’s to say which is more correct? This question leads to a middle of the film that’s really rather poignant and interesting in terms of the characters themselves.
I’m not sure if SG-1 virgins or casual viewers would find that section quite as interesting, however, as they’re not nearly so familiar with these characters. As a fan of the show it’s hard for me to judge. I will say that the writers did do a decent job of catching up the new viewers to the Stargate setting without getting bogged down with it.
The plot as a whole is pretty well done, at least until you get to the end, but I’ll talk about that in a moment. There was one genuinely unexpected twist that I was quite happy to see. I only wish they’d had more time to develop the ramifications of it. That’s perhaps why the ending is where I had the most problem. It’s just…missing something. (Jack O’Neill maybe? He’s in much of the first half before fading away.) It all wraps up too quickly, and I found myself wondering what they could’ve done if this were a four-episode arc of the show. One thing I will say: Character death shouldn’t be milked for tragedy points when you’re operating around time machines–or at the very least, not when you’re standing IN time machines. Going to slow-mo just gives the viewer more time to realize that, oh, hey, they can fix that fairly easily right now.
One more thing I did find interesting: Baal’s a jerk, yes, but oddly he’s NOT quite up to his old tricks. He seems to have learned from his mistakes…or at least most of them, which leads into part of that twist I mentioned.
As for the DVD extras, along with the usual DVD previews there’s a commentary by the writer and director as well as three featurettes. I haven’t yet had time to listen to the commentary, but I did take a look at the featurettes.
First, The Layman’s Guide to Time Travel. Being a speculative fiction writer, I have a weakness for scientific theories like time travel, alternate dimensions and such explained in layman’s terms so those of us who don’t have the benefit of a PhD in mathematics can see the wonder in them. My only complaint here is that at nine minutes, it’s too short. It would’ve been great to see them explore the two theories of how time travel might work a little bit more, for instance. Still, what we do get is interesting and fun, at least for us geek-types.
The twenty-minute Making of Stargate Continuum featurette is fun to watch, too. (Anyone who’s seen any of the SG-1 making-of specials that have aired on the Sci-Fi Channel knows what they’re in for here, style-wise if not content-wise, so I won’t go into detail.)
The best of the three would have to be the Stargate Goes to the Arctic featurette, which documents the experience of actually traveling to the Arctic Circle to film on a sheet of ice in negative twenty-degree temperatures. With all of the to-do about the cast and crew filming on-location (seen online and on the preview for Continuum on the Ark of Truth DVD) I was expecting more of the movie to take place there than we see on-screen. Don’t get me wrong, the Arctic is certainly in the movie, but I suspect that going there was a much bigger deal for the actors and crew than it is for us viewers who sit down to watch in our warm living rooms. Indeed, the twenty-two minutes of the featurette certainly show a more interesting (real) adventure. In fact it may be my favorite part of the entire DVD, and I say that with no slight to the movie itself.
So, bottom line, if you’re a fan, it’s worth picking up. (And that means YOU, Denise.) If you’ve never seen the show, well, at least give it a rental so you can help support the show, ’cause I want another DVD, dangit! 🙂
…And I really did mean for this to be a BRIEF review when I started. Ah, well.
Michael G. Munz