Stargate. I quite enjoyed the first movie starring Kurt Russell. I also very much enjoyed the first season of Stargate SG-1. I haven't watched anything (besides the odd moments when channel surfing) to do with the franchise since. That's brutally honest. Given that it has been 11 years since the first SG-1 season you could say I'm going into this movie with a lot less knowledge about the franchise then probably anyone interested enough to read this review. So I am reviewing it as a n00b, well semi-n00b anyway. With that in mind please don't flame me for any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in our review (a helpful e-mail would be cool though!). Anyway onto the review of this direct to Blu-Ray release from 20th Century Fox...
Did you understand all that? Well you're probably a fan of the TV series if you did. I didn't get much of the summary, but at the conclusion of the movie I wasn't that confused. In fact, I was surprise how quickly, and how well laid out the movie is for people like myself who don't watch the TV series. That's not saying they've dumbed it down though either. It's not like they stand there going "Ohh look, this device does this, remember that", but they don't go into rants about technology, races or events that will have non-fans lost for large chunks of time.
With a runtime of just under 100 minutes the length of this movie seemed just about right with a good, if slightly underwhelming, ending. Acting across the board is solid, and Richard Dean Anderson, despite a bit of a somewhat disinterested persona still manages to steal the limelight whenever he is on screen. Fans will certainly be keen to see many of the previous cast return for this movie including Cliff Simon as Ba'al, William Devane as President Henry Hayes, and the late Don S. Davis who passed away only a month ago now.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend to tell you how well this fits into the Stargate lore because - to be honest - I'm not familiar enough with the TV series to do that. Still, with much of the creative force behind the TV show taking part both in front and behind the camera I don't think any fans will be disappointed. Stargate: Continuum is a movie for the fans, but newcomers and those unfamilar with the franchise, will likely enjoy this movie too.
For a 'direct to Blu-Ray' movie, and one with a budget of only $US7 million, Stargate: Continuum has exceeded expectations, but manages to fall short of most big releases on Blu-Ray. At times the image in this transfer is remarkably sharp and free from blemishes which certainly makes one believe that this 'direct to Blu-Ray' movie is something much more, however there are other scenes which are grainy (particularly darker scenes such as those on the ship), and lacking fine detail which brings the transfer back to earth with a thud.
On a technical level this Blu-Ray disc is presented at 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which, on a widescreen TV, fills the entire screen. Given this movie was always to be direct to DVD/Blu-Ray that's the best possible outcome for fans. With a runtime of just under 100 minutes, the bitrate hovers around the 20Mbps mark, but occasionally peaks in the mid-30Mbps range during some scenes.
Audio on the Stargate: Continuum Blu-Ray disc is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which, given the overall experience may be a little overboard for what is required. As with the video though the overall presentation is a little sub-par. Well, sub-par compared to blockbuster movies, but it must be pointed out that the audio here is certainly the best Stargate has ever sounded and vastly superior to TV or DVD presentation. There is some decent use of surround sound channels and bass, but nothing to blow you away and it is a little inconsistent between scenes.
There are two other audio options on this disc, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 448kbps. This is a lower bitrate then we expect, certainly 640kbps would have been preferred, but samples indicate that each track is more then acceptable. Subtitles include English (which is accurate to the dialogue on-screen) and Spanish (but strangely no French?).
Despite being a direct-to-Blu-Ray release there are a couple of extras worth your time. The only real disappointment is that the video features are only presented in Standard Definition, probaly due to the lack of space on this BD-25 Single Layer disc.
Audio Commentary with Director Martin Wood and Executive Producer/Writer Brad Wright: As someone who loves to hear about the production side of movies (rather then story re-telling) this was quite an interesting commentary. While it could have been a little more light hearted, it is still worth a listen.
The Making of Stargate Continuum (22:35): A quite impressive 'making of' documentary which includes plenty of cast and crew interviews and quite a bit of behind the scenes footage from the production of the movie. The only disappointment is the lack of HD video, otherwise, this is a great extra on the disc.
The Laymans Guide to Time Travel (9:19): Certainly the weakest of the featurettes this looks at the science behind the movie. It's not really that detailed, or plausible, but fans will still want to have a look.
Review By: Dave Warner