So I got a chance to watch Stargate: Continuum Thursday night. As just about every reputable source said before the thing came out, much better than Ark Of Truth…but was it really anything new?
First off, I will say that this is at least a two-out-of-four-stars movie, just because of Richard Dean Anderson. I won’t go into the usual “Fargate” cliches that revolve around half the cast of Farscape moving over to SG-1, but Rick Anderson plays a very special flavor of “cranky sarcastic bastard” that only a few very talented actors can get away with and still be likeable, and it instantly confers that much more watchability and enjoyability to any Stargate project that he can still be coaxed into guest starring in. That being said, though, the very nature of the story here – a screwing-with-the-established-timeline story – means that the O’Neill we see, sarcastic lovable cranky bastard that he his, is not the O’Neill that we (or the handful of characters who survive the timeline changes intact) know. If you were hoping for the grand teaming-up of SG-1 old and new – and I know I was – that is precisely what this isn’t.
My biggest beef with this story is that it isn’t anything that we haven’t already seen in, oh, say, virtually every other science fiction franchise out there. Even SG-1 itself did this very same basic thing at the end of season 8! Continuum manages to deliver essentially the same story but in much grander style, and while I appreciate the increased scope, I’m not sure Continuum gives us anything that the Moebius 2-parter didn’t. Or, to put it another way, it’s kinda like Yesterday’s Enterprise or Turn Left, just not as dark – at least not at first. The alternate timeline isn’t an enslaved Earth where humans face hideous tortures. It’s a perfectly normal Earth where just about nobody believes what Mitchell, Carter and Jackson have to say about where/when they came from. (I’ll admit to one of my favorite scenes being the 24-style montage showing the three being questioned, and at one point an exasperated Daniel lets loose with a decidedly not-safe-for-the-Sci-Fi-Channel “Who could make this shit up!?” 😆 ) Nobody sees any reason to let a trio of lunatics do anything to alter the timeline, assuming they’re even telling the truth about that.
The movie’s soft center shows us their lives under a kind of military witness protection program, where they’re not allowed to contact each other. Of course, when Goa’uld ships start crowding the sky, not only do they break with orders and contact each other, the President wants to talk to them too. I got a bit of a lump in my throat seeing the late Don S. Davis, who died just before the movie came out, though again it’s not his character as we know him, which is a bit disappointing under the circumstances.
The big action setpiece, in which the Goa’uld fleet bombards the Earth while our three remaining heroes make a hasty escape via fighter jets to reach the Russian stargate, is bigger than your typical TV episode’s action sequence, though I found the greatest enjoyment coming not from the expanded effects sequences, but the continued crankiness of Daniel Jackson (with gems such as “Are there any grown-ups we can talk to?” to the one lone Russian guard who’s been left to stand sentry over the most important object in the entire world). We meet up with alterna-Teal’c here, who, while not exactly friendly to the folks he helped all the time in the original timeline, isn’t opposed to helping them if their goals coincide with his. The movie then loops around to its own beginning and resolves the timeline paradox (but how? you’ll have to watch that for yourself) and comes to a typically Stargate-ish ending.
The music is awesome – I’m looking forward to buying this soundtrack CD from Joel Goldsmith even more than I was Ark Of Truth. Big, boisterous action music and great mysterioso moments.
Not a bad movie – better than Ark Of Truth – but since I considered Ark Of Truth an almost pained attempt to stretch a season finale out to the length of two episodes, maybe that’s not saying much – the big question I find myself asking is how many more direct-to-DVD movies the SG-1 gang has in them, and will any of those movies hurdle past the point of being in-jokes for the faithful to rank up there with the best of the series itself? And if not…why bother?