'Stargate - The Ark of Truth'
(Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, et al / DVD / NR / 2008 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: In search of an Ancient artifact they hope can defeat the oppressive Ori, the team not only learns that the Ori are set to launch a final assault on Earth, but a double-crossing I.O. operative is aboard the Odyssey! Also starring Beau Bridges, this pulse-pounder is loaded with enough suspense, humor and action to fill a galaxy!
DVD Verdict: This film, the baby of Stargate franchise writer and producer Robert C. Cooper, proves that direct to DVD is a viable second life for Stargate SG-1. While the film manages to just reach "big screen" production values, it really feels like an extended length episode - and that's not a bad thing. It feels good, and familiar.
Regular viewers know the plot line of this story arc, and want to see the resolution that the Sci-Fi cable channel preempted by canceling the show. The movie does not disappoint here. The loose ends are tied up, with a couple of new twists added to the mix to keep the audience on their toes. All of the character relationships are intact and the canon of the show has not been violated in the slightest. For viewers who know Stargate SG-1, but aren't familiar with the arc of this story line, a "Previously on Stargate SG-1" extended prelude sequence is provided. As a regular viewer of the franchise, I even found it helpful in jogging the memory of a few plot points from season 9 of the series.
With the actors being completely comfortable in their characters, the performances are just what the Stargate viewer wants. Cooper does a very good job of directing actors and a story he's very familiar with. The movie was made using film cameras, as opposed to the more recent use of the Hi-Def video format of the series. As good as Hi-Def "film" is, there IS something about 35 mm film resolution that lends to the big scale feel of the movie. The visual effects, having been completed by Stargate's in-house facility, are familiar and comfortable. But, their scale is wider and more time has obviously been invested in ensuring the visuals live up to "movie" standards.
The only criticism I would make is that the pacing occasionally DID feel like this was an episode, rather than a movie - a bit ironic in as much as much was made by the producers and cast about how liberating the "2 hour" format was. Two particular sequences seemed a bit glossed over, with one character setting off without a solid explanation of "how," while the situation three other characters find themselves in doesn't get treated with enough depth. But, that is minor, because the third act sets up a scenario that places most of the leading characters into great danger. Even though we know that the resolution will be successful, it doesn't take away from the jeopardy because of the earlier mentioned completely unexpected plot twist. Act 4 resolves the story and set SG-1 up for further adventures in this direct to disc format.
The disc itself has wonderful "special features," including the treat of watching the actors, as themselves, at the ComicCon convention in San Diego. Having attended one Creative produced Stargate convention, with the opportunity to meet and hear stories from Michael Shanks and Christopher Judge, I know how much fun the folks at the San Diego convention had.
I feel that my enthusiasm and time was well spent on this film, and that it was worth the wait. I'm looking forward to the upcoming "Stargate Continuum" release in July, and hope that the production team can get another film in the pipeline soon. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features:
Commentary with Writer, Director and Producer Robert C. Cooper, Actor Christopher Judge and Director of Photography Peter Woeste
The Road Taken: Prelude to The Ark of Truth
Stargate at Comic con
Uncovering The Ark of Truth