10 April 2011

Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Starring Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Ben Browder, Christopher Judge, Beau Bridges, Claudia Black, Morena Baccarin, Tim Guinee, Julian Sands, Currie Graham
Written & Directed by Robert C. Cooper
DVD Release: 11 March 2008
MGM Home Entertainment, 101 mins., NR

Plot: The SG-1 team search for The Ark, a device created by the Ancients that will reveal the truth about Origin to the evil remnants of Ori followers and diminish the power of Adria.

Yep, sure that plot synopsis makes no sense to anyone who hasn't watched the series. Truth is, I'm still only two discs into the freshman season of Stargate: SG-1, so I really shouldn't be watching The Ark of Truth, cos, y'know, spoilers and all that. The good news is, the DVD comes with an eight-minute "prequel", or rather, a catch-up of the events from seasons eight-ten which clue as into the whole deal with the Ori, the Ancients, Adrian, and the new kids on the block (read: anyone not Daniel Jackson, Colonial Jack O'Neil, or Samanda Carter). So I was rather fortunate in that regard. The clip compilation helps establish the epic scope of the story executive producer/writer/director Robert C. Cooper set out to tell, but overall, the events of The Ark of Truth is perfectly understandable for newbies as well.

After all, the movie tackles universal themes and storylines: the journey of redemption for people blinded by darkness, a race of beings following a religion's doctrine to a harsh degree and their attempts to stop nonbelievers from changing their beliefs, and another one of those fate of all mankind rests in the balance type subplots. For anyone under the misconception the Stargate franchise is simply kiddie fare of funness, The Ark of Truth will be one hell of a eye-opener for you. No, the franchise isn't as dark as, say, Battlestar Galactica, but the series, and movies, tackle heavy themes and boasts an intelligence that absolutely bewildered me when I first started watching Atlantis (and which is in abundance here, and in Continuum). The Stargate franchise is smart, and it's a science fiction series that should not be missed.

Moving on.

The pluses: marvelous production design. The spaceship interiors, the chamber pictured above, even Stargate Command, all positively gorgeous design and amazing to look at. In the realm of digital effects, with a bigger budget than that of the television series, they are noticeably superior and bigger in quantity (i.e., the loads of Replicator spiders and finally the Mother Replicator). The cinematography is cinematic in execution. In fact, both Ark of Truth and Continuum could be released as theatrical productions, they are that well produced.

Like I said with my Continuum review, these actors know these characters inside and out, so as expected, they all excel in their roles. I want to, again, make specific note of the awesomeness of Ben Browder as Cameron Mitchell. He's never short of one liners (my favorite will always be when Marrick is beating Cam up, Marrick asks Cam to kill him, and Cam responds, 'Trust me, I'm trying'; oh, hahahaha!), and definitely delivers the action hero goods. Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge are kickass in their respective roles, strong and wise characters that have no problem engaging in combat or using their wicked smarts to save the day. Worth noting: the gorgeous and ever sexy Morena Baccarin is Adria, Vala's daughter and some evil bitch, apparently. Basically, if you ever watched Xena, Warrior Princess, she's the Stargate equivalent to Hope, as far as I can tell. She's only onscreen for a short while, but she makes those seconds count.

If you're reading this review as a lover of the Stargate franchise, I hope you appreciate my lovage for these two direct-to-DVD flicks. If you're a casual reader and are perhaps interested in checking out this franchise, with no hesitation do I recommend it. This series is the perfect blend of action, intelligence, space battles, awesome characters, clever dialogue, and best of all, fun. The Ark of Truth is no different.

Tying up loose ends in a short 101 minute movie probably isn't easy, yet writer/director Robert C. Cooper definitely succeeds. There's even time for some brilliant one liners and action scenes! With The Ark of Truth, the Ori storyline is brought to an end, but the journey doesn't ever stop, and that's the beauty of the Stargate franchise. Just because a Big Bad is defeated and over with, the story doesn't just stop. There's always another mission, and with such strongly defined and three dimensional characters, we, the viewers, can't wait to tag along.

Rating: 10/10 = Another spectacular adventure of the Stargate franchise that can't be recommended enough!

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