Stargate: The Ark Of Truth [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - MGM Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (17th May 2009).
The Film

If all dogs go to heaven, where do cancelled science fiction shows go when they die? They don’t all go to the same place, especially not heaven since a good amount of them challenge religious notions of god or higher powers, but some will live to fight another day on another medium, as with all too brief resurrection of Joss Whedon’s brilliant “Firefly” (2002) into the feature film epic “Serenity” (2005) thanks to it’s dedicated, some would say zealous, following of browncoats. Others have their cast and writers reconstituted into other TV shows as with “Farscape” (1999-2003) whose lead actors, Ben Browder and Claudia Black, were adopted by the “Stargate: SG-1” (1997-2007) franchise and turned into two leading major characters. Ironically the “SG-1” series would incorporate Morena Baccarin of “Firefly” and “Serenity” fame into their series in it’s final season, until it’s fairly sudden cancellation in 2006 following it’s 200th episode. While “Stargate” had managed to be far more successful in terms of episodes produced, spinoffs and time the series was given to evolve, it didn’t reach the same level of fanaticism as the browncoats made known in giving “Firefly” it’s due release into the big screen, and instead got half way there with a smaller screen release direct to home video, beginning with the first installment “Stargate: The Ark of Truth” that wrapped up the storylines of the final two seasons that the show didn’t have a chance to complete.

After the “Unending” of the “Stargate” series, “Ark of Truth” picks back up in the middle of the fight against the Ori, a highly advanced race who use their technology and knowledge to convince less advanced peoples that they are gods. After SG-1 was able to destroy the Ori beings, their followers still remain to be dealt with as they still blindly believe the word of Origin. A bit confusing, but still now SG-1 has to find a new artifact called the Ark of Truth that will be able to show the priors that they are wrong about the Ori and rid the known universe of their negative influence in the process. Unfortunately, the International Oversight Advisory sends along a representative to join the team on their latest mission, yet in the middle of the investigation he helps sends things awry, just as Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) is on the cusp of discovering the Ark while Lt. Col. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and Lt. Col. Mitchell (Ben Browder) fall under attack from Replicators and Ori, simultaneously.

Acting almost as a final 3 episode story arc to wrap up the continuity that got lost in the cancellation, the movie definitely depends on it’s previous fanbase in knowing what happened and picking it up exactly where the series left off. I respect the fact that they acknowledge their key audience and don’t try to make it overly accessible in an attempt to draw in some other audience. For anyone who has never seen the series, honestly why start here? For the casual watchers who didn’t really follow the series after Richard Dean Anderson left the show, it’s harder to pick back up but still much easier to understand the basic premise off the universe that they’re playing around in.

In terms of the actors, the performances are about the same as you saw in the TV series. Christopher Judge brings the same sort of Spock-lite personality as Teal’c, the stoic alien, but does it well for what he’s been thrown into. Tapping and Shanks play their roles well in bringing together all kinds of ridiculous scientific or mythological jargon and letting it spew form their mouths incredibly naturally, which is understandable considering they’ve been playing scientist/archiologist for the past 10 years on the show. Shanks may stand out the most in his overall transformation from ‘that guy who looks like James Spader and now plays the same role’ to really owning the character over the course of the series.

The direct-to-video film may capture some of the spirit of the show, it has the feel of a couple of episodes that were put together, with higher production values in putting a little more cinematography outside of some stock footage combined with CG. Everyone seems to hit their marks from the show and brings it to the conclusion of the final storyline, without leaving fans just wondering what would have happened. Honestly it has to be judged on the level of a season finale, or even series, finale, but even then it has trouble matching up to some of the juggernauts of season finales, such as the iconic “All Good Things…” (1994) that closed out “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-1994). Still it’s a fine finale to a fine sci-fi show that covers enough grounds to make the fans happy while closing out the story in traditional “Stargate” fashion.

Video

Presented in high-definition 1080p 24/fps with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with AVC MPEG-4 compression encoding at 33.5 MBPS, the film definitely looks better than the show in terms of sheer budget and scope of production, though some of the scenes don’t look quite up to the quality of lighting of others, some scenes have high levels of noise and grain that hurt the contrast that gets a bit annoying.

Audio

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is mixed at 24-bit/48kHz and brings a good amount of freshness to the series as the film brings in a full orchestral soundtrack that creates a greater feeling in this film as opposed to the show. The sound effects and vocals are all wwell balanced and come through well, bringing in the well recognized sound effects to merge in with the newness of the score.
Audio is also available in French or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 along with Spanish and English for the hearing impaired subtitles.

Extras

The special features included on the disc bring a fair amount of additional insight to the film through an audio commentary track, three featurettes and bonus trailers.

First is the audio commentary with screenwriter/director/producer Robert C. Cooper, actor Christopher Judge and director of photography Peter F. Woeste. The trio have a good amount of banter between them and Cooper does a good job of leading the conversation through the entirety of the film, with a few pauses, and good notes from Judge and Woeste. There’s some interesting discussion of the difference between making the show and making the film, just in terms of all the little things that they were able to do in the film that they never did on the show.

Next is “Stargate SG-1: The Road Taken – Prelude to ‘Stargate: The Ark of Truth’” which runs for 9 minutes and 5 seconds. This featurette that basically summarizes the final two seasons of “Stargate: SG-1” building up to the movie, crucial for those who stopped watching after MacGyver left, but a nice refresher for the fans who may have trouble remembering everything that happens.

“The Ark of Truth: Stargate at Comic-Con” runs for 19 minutes and 53 seconds, and this featurette covers a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, featuring Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Martin Wood, Robet Cooper and moderated by Gary Jones. It’s good coverage and light hearted as you would expect with a panel, much of the footage is hand held and has some trouble finding the right amount of stability.

“Uncovering the Ark of Truth” runs for 29 minutes and 45 seconds. This final featurette acts as a making of for the feature film, bringing together the same major faces that have been seen and mentioned throught the rest of the commentaries and features, bringing together the straight-to-video movies and generally covering behind-the-scenes footage and interviews effectively.

Of course there are also bonus trailers on the disc:

- “Stargate: Continuum” runs for 47 seconds.
- “The Happening” runs for 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
- “The X-Files: I Want To Believe” runs for 1 minute and 26 seconds.
- “Babylon A.D.” runs for 1 minute and 53 seconds.
- “Stargate Atlantis – Season 4” runs for 1 minute and 1 second.
- “SG-1 Franchise Trailer” runs for 59 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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