Judge Clark Douglas is working on repairing the timeline. Don't be alarmed if your cat suddenly disappears.
History may never repeat itself again.
First off, a disclaimer for those of you Stargate fans out there. I am not an official member of your ranks. My knowledge of the Stargate world is pretty limited. I've seen the 1994 Roland Emmerich film that started the whole thing, and I've seen a few random episodes of Stargate: SG-1 on television. So, please make a note that this review is primarily for the benefit of those who are merely wondering whether this flick makes a decent standalone watch. Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled review.
Facts of the Case
An elite military unit has a mission to accomplish. They must go through the stargate (a portal into another world) and oversee a very dangerous ceremony. When the unit arrives at the ceremony, members of the unit suddenly start disappearing; vanishing into thin air. Something is going very wrong. So, the unit heads back to earth. When they arrive, they discover that someone has been tampering with time. They've come back to a world in which the stargate was never discovered, so they are no longer an elite military unit. Now they have to convince the very skeptical U.S. Government that they are telling the truth, find a way to fix time and defeat a deadly alien named Ba'al.
Movies about time travel are always so complicated, aren't they? Instead of just being ridiculous and allowing everybody to go back and forth in time without consequences, they creates scenarios where the tiniest alteration could screw the entire world up. The only problem is that most of these movies wind up seeming pretty ridiculous now matter how complicated they get. Still, a good game of "let's fix time" is one that many fans of sci-fi- movies, television shows, and comic books have always enjoyed, so let's all just play along, shall we?
From a purely selfish perspective, I'm a fan of the actions taken by the villains in this movie. By creating a world in which the stargate never existed, they give me a clean slate to work with: nothing in any of the previous movies or television programs ever happened. Yay! Fans of Stargate need not worry, though. Our heroes are determined to fix everything and make things normal again. However, once they do actually manage to convince the government of their identity, they are understandably denied the opportunity to go fixing the timeline. That would drastically alter the lives of many people in the current timeline, which is obviously a lot more important than the lives of a small group of time-travelers. Besides, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the world has become any worse since Ba'al screwed things up…at least not at first.
I honestly wasn't expecting to like the film very much (straight-to-video sci-fi sequels don't exactly have a great hit-to-miss ratio), but I found the movie to be a reasonably pleasant viewing experience. There isn't anything remotely original here, but it borrows a wide variety of well-worn clichés with a moderate level of success. The film is directed with efficiency and clarity by Martin Wood, and features a screenplay by Brad Wright that thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously. There's a regular dose of light humor injected into the proceedings, much of which comes from the unit's attempts to convince various government officials that they are who they claim to be. Additionally, the special effects in the film are a bit better than you'd expect them to be.
The film looks a little grainy from time to time, but the hi-def transfer is good enough to be called "solid." There are some superb landscape shots here and there, and flesh tones are well-balanced. Sound is good, spotlighting the fine score by Joel Goldsmith (who has inherited at least a portion of his famous father's talent). As with Goldsmith's previous work on various incarnations of Stargate, the score retains the main themes by composer David Arnold, but mostly provides new material. A few nice supplements are included. Wood and Wright offer up a commentary, and it's a busy and engaging track. These guys obviously enjoyed working on the film a great deal. "The Making of Stargate: Continuum" (22 minutes) is just what it sounds like, a pretty ordinary making-of featurette. "Stargate Goes to the Arctic" (21 minutes) talks about the arduous process of filming a few scenes at the North Pole; it's pretty interesting stuff. Finally, we have "The Layman's Guide to Time Travel" (nine minutes), in which a good-natured astrophysicist attempt to make sense of time traveling for us. He obviously can't entirely succeed in nine minutes, but it's a surprisingly heady featurette for this sort of thing (we're discussing the possibilities of a multiverse within a couple of minutes). My only complaint about these featurettes is that they are all in standard-def.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I don't know whether Ba'al was a more interesting villain in the series, but I found him to be incredibly boring here. He's one of these ancient sorts who is always speaking in portentous phrases of doom. "Now is the time in which we must seize our destiny," and all that nonsense. As played by Cliff Simon, Ba'al has absolutely no personality whatsoever. He doesn't seem to pose a particularly credible threat. To make things worse, his voice is enhanced by some sort of robotic echo effect that makes everything he says sound pretty annoying. Due to the weakness of Ba'al and his gang of villains, the big action sequence in the final act fails to be terribly interesting.
While Stargate: Continuum isn't really anything special, it provides just enough entertainment to justify its existence. Of course, diehard Stargate fans will want to see it, but it will probably work well enough for anybody else in the room who doesn't have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Stargate.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary w/Brad Wright & Martin Wood
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