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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Stargate: Continuum (review)

Wormhole Extreme

I liked the first direct-to-DVD Stargate SG-1 movie, Ark of Truth, merely because it was more SG-1, which I was starving for. But it wasn’t actually a terribly good movie… or even a terribly good overlong episode of the show. But Continuum, out on DVD this week? Ahhhh. Now this is what I want to see in a Stargate movie. It’s not just a fantastic overlong episode of the show, it actually feels like a movie, with big stakes and big drama, not to mention a big cast and a big budget, for TV: about $7 million, and it’s all on the screen. Heck, they even shot some of this in some unfakeable locations in the Arctic — in the freakin’ Arctic! — and there’s not many movies can say that.
Oh yes: and Jack O’Neill is back. He’s not in enough of Continuum, not near enough, but we’ll take whatever Jack we can get.

I hope you haven’t heard too much about what happens here, because I knew nothing and was glad of it, because Continuum takes some turns that wouldn’t have been as much fun if I’d known they were coming. So I promise not to spoil any of that for you. I will tell you this: Ba’al, the last of system lords, has been captured, and the Tok’ra are about to execute him for his crimes against the galaxy. Ba’al’s not planning on going out easily, though, and while the SG-1 team is present on the Tok’ra homeworld to witness the execution, his final plan begins to unfurl. It’s a doozy.

If none of that makes any sense to you, well, you’ll probably want to skip Continuum: it’s really not going to be any fun to anyone who isn’t madly in love with SG-1… the team, that is. They’re all here: Jack (Richard Dean Anderson) and Sam (Amanda Tapping) — though their decade-long romantic tension does not get resolved (and that’s not a spoiler: there’s never any indication here that it will be; maybe in the next movie). Daniel (Michael Shanks) and Vala (Claudia Black) — ditto on the tension, and on that not being a spoiler. Cam (Ben Browder) and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) — no, they have no romantic tension, though Cam does finally have a chance to start feeling more like a character in his own right and less like a wedged-in substitute for Jack.

Ba’al was always one of SG-1’s more captivating villains — actor Cliff Simon is clearly still having a ball with a bad guy who really kinda just wants to be pals with Our Heroes, and Ba’al’s Big Plan lets him expand on that. But everything in Continuum feels expansive and ambitious in a way that the show hardly even actually achieved: there’s a whole new kind of sophistication at work here, both as character study and as science fiction. There’s nothing among all the plot twists and SFnal concepts that is genuinely original, but the way screenwriter Brad Wright and director Martin Wood — both longtime contributors to the series — handle it all makes it feel fresh anyway. It feels, in fact, just the teensy-weensiest bit like Doctor Who, and I can’t help but suspect that Wright and Wood were maybe just a teensy-weensy bit influenced by seeing in what daring directions TV sci-fi has been going these days.

I’m still starving for more StargateAtlantis simply does not satisfy my Stargate jones, much as I keep hoping it will — but this will keep me going for a little while. At least until we get a third SG-1 movie… which we may just get.

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watch at home

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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