Stargate: Continuum [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - MGM Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (8th September 2008).
The Film

Before I start things off, I have to mention one thing: before watching this movie, I knew nothing of 'Stargate: SG1' other than MacGyver was the star. After watching the movie, I don't know all that much more, but I did enjoy the story.

Having a movie based on a show is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the show's built-in audience is a guaranteed sell, and they will know what's going on immediately. Too much exposition will annoy these viewers, whereas not having any exposition will lose anybody that doesn't know the back story. If that happens, there's no way of getting these people to become interested in the show. Also, unless the movie is exceptional, most people will not want to invest their valuable time in a possibly long-running show.

Having said that, I will say I very much enjoyed 'Stargate: Continuum', but it's not pushing me hard enough to watch the original episodes (in the same way 'Serenity' did). By the same token, I'm certain that there are tons and tons of winks and in-jokes that, unfortunately, I didn't get because I didn't watch the show. Fans of the show, then, will more than likely enjoy this movie much more than I do.

The plot concerns Colonel Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), Colonel Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), who, through a series of events, end up in an alternate timeline. Their quest is to stop Ba'al (Cliff Simon), who went back to the past and changed it, and to convince the current government that things aren't the way they're supposed to be. Needless to say, they don't have the easiest time doing either of these things.

The movie obviously has problems as soon as they introduce a time travel element, but they don't concentrate too much on these things, so I won't either. The point of the movie isn't to solve these problems, it's to use the time travel element to tell the story that has to be told. The writers do a nice job of this, though the pacing is a bit uneven.

When things get going, they get going, but for the most part, things happen too quickly. It's like they took a 3-episode arc and combined to make one 2-episode movie. The movie wants to focus on the psychology of the characters and their having to change their lives and their training to adapt to a new world. When things get rolling and the third act comes around, everything seems to happen too quickly. It's as if they thought the hour was up and they had to wrap everything up in a neat little package. This rushed pace and storytelling makes the movie seem uneven, as they gave ample time for their characters to develop, but not enough for their resolution.

Overall, it's an entertaining 98 minutes. As I've said, I won't be seeking out the series, but I am glad I saw the movie. It gives a good sense of tone and style of the series. It also has some pretty impressive shots of the arctic and submarines. If you're a fan, give the movie a whirl, I'm sure it's a lot of fun. Even if you're not that much of a fan, I can promise you that at least the first shot will definitely grab your attention.

Video

1.85:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. The first thing you notice is that the picture is a bit soft compared to bigger releases. This, though, seems to be the only real shortcoming, as the rest of the tranfer is pretty good. There are no specks, scratches or any blemishes on the print, nor are there any compression artifacts or unwanted side-effects stemming from digital manipulation (though there may be some very small haloing in a few shots). The colours are nice and accurate, as are skin tones. The black level is nice, though shadow detail can be a bit better at times. It's a decent transfer, but not the best that high-definition has to offer.

Audio

The main audio track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, though you do have Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs. The lossless track is very nice, providing a pretty open space for the movie and its environment. The dialogue is always clear and loud. The score comes through clearly and the various effects are detailed and distinct. The volume levels between these are good enough, though the distinction between important and lesser sounds could be a bit clearer. The side and rear speakers are used very well for ambiance, such as wind in the arctic. Overall, it's a decent mixing job.
As far as subtitles go, you have the choice of English HoH and Spanish.

Extras

MGM didn't include too many extras on this set, but the ones they did include are pretty nice.

First off is an audio commentary by executive producer/writer Brad Wright and director Martin Wood. These two guys talk a lot and make the commentary a lot of fun. They talk a lot about the production of the movie, and how it differed from shooting the episodes. They mention they only had a 19-day schedule. When they shot in the arctic, they actually shot at -56 degrees Fahrenheit. (It's the first shot of the pair walking in front of the sunrise.) They also mention the arctic, what's real and what's CG, and point out easter eggs in the movie that fans will appreciate. They talk about the story and the bad guy and everything else you can imagine. They talk throughout the track and never really let any dead time through. As far as commentary tracks go, this is very good.

The Making of Stargate: Continuum (22:35) is a pretty nice featurette. Though it goes through the normal motions creation, casting, locations, plot for some reason I found it more interesting than others. They spend a fair bit of time talking about the very first shot, which is particularly impressive. The visual effects are also discussed, though not in any kind of detail. The actors also talk about the movie, and Richard Dean Anderson talks about how nice it is being back again. The other featurette is Stargate Goes to the Arctic (21:53), which I found even better. It's all about the shoot in the arctic. The cast, crew and the ALPIS member that got the crew to shoot there talk about how everything happened. You see plenty of footage of the arctic station and life there. You also hear some stories about the submarine and shooting in and around it. This is probably my favorite featurette.

The Layman's Guide to Time Travel (9:19) is, in my opnion, a bit too simple. When they say 'layman', they really do mean it. This is a beginner's explanation of how time travel works and how the movie uses the theories associated with time travel. Some terms are explained, but there's really no detail.

Lastly, there are some Fox on Blu-ray trailers for 'Street Kings' (1:21), 'The Happening' (2:15) and 'Behind Enemy Lines 3' (0:50).

Overall

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

 


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