Thursday, August 21, 2008

MOVIES: Stargate: Continuum

With Atlantis going the way of the occasional DVD movie (see below), I am reminded that the reason that is so, is the success of the two Stargate SG1 movies released over the last year.

Ark of Truth was the wrap-up movie, tying up the many, many loose ends left by the cancellation of Stargate SG1 after 10 years of surprisingly strong life. It repaired that "What, THAT'S the end?" feeling one got to watching the final episode of the actual TV series. I can't REALLY criticize any show with Morena Baccarin in it, but it ended a story arc in the Stargate original universe that frankly didn't appeal to me. Some good action, great special effects, the previously mentioned spectacular Ms. Baccarin, and a chance to say hello and good-bye again to the old crew was most of what it meant to me.

Now Continuum, released last month, was a different kettle of fish. The movie starts pleasingly with the SG1 team, with Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) along for the ride, as they take Ba'al off to his execution. Ba'al, played with mirthful malevolence by Cliff Simon, doesn't go quietly. Indeed, due to some forethought, he succeeds in freeing himself and wiping most of the team out of existence. Makes for a killer out at the first break, when they eventually put this thing on TV.

Turns out, clever old Ba'al, sent a team back in time, to Earth's history and contrived to prevent the Stargate itself from reaching American shores. That changes things quite dramatically. When the remaining members of the team use a gate to get back to familiar territory, they don't arrive deep in the bowels of a Rockies mountain. Nope. The gate is inside a soon-to-sink ship in the Arctic, having been frozen there for most of sixty years. They escape from the fire into the freezer and mount a doomed trek to civilization. Things look dim until O'Neill, albeit not THEIR O'Neill, arrives in a nuclear sub to save their hides.

Yes, we have that hoary old cliche, the parallel universe to explore, hoping to find their own way back to their timeline. There ARE changes, and frankly, they don't do much hero-ing for quite some time. The best part of the movie is when they get read the riot act by the new timeline's General Landry (Beau Bridges), who lets them know he's fully aware that they plan to destroy the timeline he and 300 million or so Americans live in. Let alone the rest of the populous. Makes the label mass-murderer seem insignificant somehow. If the Goa'uld fleet hadn't arrive to do the very same honours anyway, he wouldn't be letting them loose to try and change history yet again. It's a great response to a familiar situation where everyone seems so willing to sacrifice millions of lives. Refreshing.

At any rate, things work out in the end. Some of the twists and turns tie up very neatly. People get a chance to play a little outside of norm for their characters and enjoy it immensely. None more so than Claudia Black. But everybody's there and it ends up being a really enjoyable hour and a half.

Liked this movie a lot. Hope it continues to auger well for the series of DVD releases that Stargate has devolved into.

One last thing. This was Don D. Davis's last work, as the genial General George Hammond survived the movie, but lost his life to cancer after filming was finished. He will be missed.

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