After a largely unanticipated successful first season, the Stargate series went on to wow sci-fi cable TV audiences for a full decade. When the initial show was cancelled, fans of Stargate SG-1 clamored for more, so now, 14 years after its debut, the Stargate franchise lives on in Stargate Continuum, the second feature-length film produced after SG-1 was shuttered. Like the original Stargate film and early episodes of SG-1 before it, Continuum relies on throwing a small team of operatives into a sticky situation complimented by exotic on-location shoots that look remarkable on Blu-ray video. It also doesn’t hurt that the special effects look as good as ever in 1080p.
Much like the first movie, Ark of Truth, Stargate Continuum resolves a dangling plotline from the SG-1 series, this one involving the fate of the Ba’al clones. Fortunately, unlike that first film, even franchise newbies can follow this new movie’s plot. The film’s premise is pretty straightforward sci-fi fare, but it also happens to be one that diehard fans will absolutely love: what would happen if SG-1 never existed? The intriguing answer is revealed through voyages from the Arctic and alien spaceships to the interior of a nuclear submarine. And, although the entire original SG-1 cast is included in the film, there are also plenty of cameos that Stargate fanboys will love.
Oddly enough, while the story is strong enough for theaters, the writing can be occasionally sloppy, and the visual effects can range from outstanding to second-rate. For example, one main character suffers a crippling injury that never has any consequences, so why include it at all? There’s also an awkward jump in time that removes any possibility of seeing what could have been the most intriguing character-focused moments of the film.
On the whole, Continuum is a decent entry in the SG-1 saga that hopefully won’t be the last. There’s still a lot of mileage left in these characters and the actors look as if they had a ball returning to the roles that define many of their careers.
MGM Home Entertainment presents Stargate Continuum in widescreen 1.77:1 1080p video encoded with AVC MPEG-4. Any arguments aimed at Fox/MGM after Patton regarding digital noise reduction in no way apply here. The transfer comes across quite the opposite. There’s persistent grain and noise throughout regardless of location or environmental variables that carry forth a film-like presentation. The artic scenes in particular suffer from the elements that detract from detail. There are no bright blue skies to provide a perfect frame. Black levels fall somewhere in the mediocre range. Dark scenes don’t fall apart with compression issues but don’t quite extend as dark as I would have liked.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio treatment is on par with what’s to be expected from a direct-to-video release. Dialogue for the most part is discernable aside from a handful of occasions where the score, effects or both interfere. Surrounds and .LFE aren’t utilized or pushed as far as they would in a theatrical production with a beefier budget. This is most apparent in the intense combat sequences that come across flatter than they should.
The extra features on Stargate Continuum are meager listed on paper but pack a lot of punch. Each is presented in standard 480p definition as they are on DVD and there are no Blu-ray exclusives.
Commentary with Executive Producer/Writer Brad Wright and Director Martin Wood: The emphatic duo is so excited to talk about their film that they sound like giddy schoolgirls gossiping about boy crushes. There’s not a single break in their track where the film’s audio comes into focus, the telltale sign that they’re offering the commentary as fans and not for an additional paycheck.
Making of Stargate Continuum (22:35): A well-designed featurette that manages cutting between cast and filmmaker commentary with relevant behind-the-scenes footage beautifully. The gem buried about halfway through is a dissection and fly-on-the-wall perspective of filming the ingenious opening shot.
Stargate Goes to the Arctic (21:53): The cast and an abbreviated crew did in fact travel to the artic hinterlands to shoot on-location and utilize the services of a real Navy submarine. I questioned whether a shot in the film involving a submarine breaking through the ice was real or an effect. This featurette answers and explains that question.
Layman’s Guide to Time Travel (9:19): Watching this featurette is like sitting through a college lecture as Astrophysicist Jaymie Matthews questions the plausibility of what happens in the film and presents multiple possibilities to help justify some of the creative decisions involving time travel and its consequences.
Stargate Continuum carries forth the tradition of the SG-1 show with otherworldly enemies and locations the first Stargate film 14 years ago failed to deliver. Though the story and scope is theatrical-ready, the budget and fine details are still grounded in the expectations of a television show. Continuum’s greatest achievement is appealing to fans and newcomers alike making it a solid rental choice not for its high definition presentation, but for its broad science fiction appeal.