Stargate: The Ark of Truth
Some television series seem to be immune to death. Even after the series is cancelled enough people are around clamoring for more that the story continues. Usually this is done through a string of made for TV movies helping to keep the franchise alive. With Sci-Fi shows this seems to have become part of the life cycle for the series. One show that appears destined to remain with us for a long time is ‘Stargate SG-1’. For five years it was a foundation for Sci-Fri Fridays on the Showtime cable network. When it was cancelled there it was immediately picked up for new episodes by the Sci-Fi basic cable network were it ran for an additional five years as well as creating a spin off live action series and an animated children’s variation. ‘Stargate’ has so captured the imagination of fans that there is still more than enough material to keep this story going for at least the foreseeable future. So far there are two made for cable movies that have come out of this imaginative series; ‘Stargate: The Ark of Truth’ followed by ‘Stargate: Continuum’. The DVD release of ‘Ark’ was late last spring with ‘Continuum’ following in the summer. Then for some reason the release order was reversed for the high definition Blu-ray editions with ‘Continuum’ hitting the shelves before ‘Ark’. No matter that the rational for this at least now both movies are out in both formats. Since ‘Ark’ was the first movie and came directly after the cancellation of the series it is only natural that it picks up where the show left off. This is a well used ploy with such movie continuations of a series especially when that show left the without a chance to pull together all the loose ends of the plots. The film is able to stand on its own but will mostly appeal to the die hard fan of the series. This movie does what is expected of one rising from the ashes of a cancelled television series. It continues the stories concluding some of the threads left dangling while opening the door for the possibility of successive sequel films. The outcome is a solid piece of entertainment that will pull in and hold the attention of even the rare person around who is not familiar with the Stargate universe. While naturally not as elaborate as a theatrical blockbuster Sci-Fi flick this one does more than hold its own.
The story came from a team of three men with admirable credentials; Robert C. Cooper, Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright. Glassner has extensive experience in the best of the television Sci-Fi genre. You will find his name among the writing credits for such series as ‘The (New) Outer Limits’, ‘The Invisible Man’, ‘Odyssey 5’ and, of course, ‘Stargate SG-1’. Cooper has worked on the cult favorite ‘PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal’ while Wright provided scripts for a few of the same shows as Glassner in addition to ‘Highlander’ and ‘Forever Knight’. What this demonstrates is a proven track for this kind of production; television based Sci-Fi and fantasy. The fundamental framework for this movie is that of a double episode of the series. There is a brief recap just in case there are some newbies to the franchise out there. As far as science fiction devices go the stargate is one of the better ones. It is a large circle surrounded by glyphs. The symbols are a sort of telephone number that when properly aligned open a wormhole in the center of the gate. It is then possible to travel instantaneously to distant parts of the galaxy. It turns out that many races have been using the gate for travel for millennium. Not all of them are especially benevolent; in fact most want to rule the universe. On earth the United States Military has control of the main gate for this planet and have assembled teams to explore the destinations and fight the species that want to destroy us and our planet. For a series that has lasted a decade there were surprisingly few major cast changes. The core characters have been around from the start with a few replacements written in ass a natural part of the overall character arc.
The SG-1 team has been battle tested and proven to be one the best guardians of earth and peaceful cultures throughout the galaxy. It is comprised of Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), an archeologist and linguistic expert, Lt. Col. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), a military astrophysicist, Teal’c (Christopher Judge), an alien once in the employ of the dreaded System Lords and relative newcomers Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder) and Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black). As the film opens the team is after the Ark of Truth, a powerful device from the planet Alteran. It has the ability to brainwash any sentient being. Also looking for the device are the Priors, a group of enhanced humans devoted to serving and as missionaries to the Ori, an ultimately powerful group of ascended Ancients. During a confrontation a lead Prior, Tomin (Tim Guinee) Mitchell gets the best of their foes by using a device that is able to neutralize the Ori powers of the enemy. Tomin is taken into custody and back to SG command. SG-1 realizes that the Ark is still in the home Ori galaxy and it would mean the end of civilization if they use it. A mission is set out to take the space ship Odyssey through a huge super sized stargate that the Ori use to transport their space fleets. Along to help is James Marrick (Currie Graham) a representative of the International Oversight Advisory. Once they arrive at their destination they find that Marrick intends to build a Replicator, a destructive robotic being, and plant it on the Ori ship. Mitchell tries to destroy it but it gets away. Marrick claims that the IOA has perfected the design and it is safe to employ as such a weapon. After a search of the planet Jackson finds the ark but the danger is not over. The Ori are determined to get it and use it to complete their deity like control over their subjects.
One of the best sources of fun of a Stargate story is the way the writers infuse it with mythology from most major cultures here on earth. In this case the Arthurian legends get a work out with many of the characters of that tale being brought to life here. it is this perfect blend of advanced science and ancient mythos that gives this franchise the charm and appeal that has made it an enduring part of the varied world of science fiction. I admit that I haven’t seen either of the two Stargate films on regular DVD but I have watched both on Blu-ray. The transfer for ‘Ark’ is stupendous. It is crystal clear and has one of the best color palettes to come around in a long time. The 1080p video is better than you would get on most cable high definition channels so this is the way to watch this movie. The DTS HD lossless audio is excellent. It will fill your room and take you to the depths of outer space. The channel separation is exceptional. There is supposed to be a third film on the horizon and I am greatly looking forward to it. In the mean time this will keep the fans happy.