Stargate: The Ark Of Truth DVD review

The Ori story arc comes to a brilliant close with The Ark of Truth, a terrific DVD movie in the Stargate franchise...

The Ark of Truth: excellent stuff

Let’s go back in time. In 1994, a movie gets released that brings a new idea to the sci-fi table, a gateway to another planet at the other side of the galaxy. MGM looked at this, and felt that a series was booming to be told. The Stargate goes to other planets. That premise has generated ten seasons of SG-1, and four seasons, so far, of the spin-off Atlantis. And yes, another spin-off is in the works. It’s something that can keep going for years to come. So it makes a lot of sense that when SG-1 got canned, they would not let it die.

In season eight, SG-1 finished. I say that because O’Neill left. Richard Dean Anderson had already drawn back his action involvement in the series considerably by staying on Earth for the majority of the eighth year, so it was completely inevitable. Season nine and ten relaunched the franchise, by adding Ben Browder as Lt. Col. Mitchell, leader of SG-1, and Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran, making it a five-person team. As well as this, Beau Bridges was brought in to lead Stargate Command as General Hank Landry, and the series introduced a new baddie, the Ori. This film, is all about completing the storyline left behind in season ten.

The film itself is a mix of utterly brilliant scripting, wonderful effects and a brilliant geeky quality that needed to be evident in order to sell itself.

The team take a trip through to the Ori galaxy, through what’s called a ‘supergate’, a Stargate big enough to transport huge spaceships. In that sense, it is a mirror, way back to the 1994 movie, with a journey into the utter unknown. What they would find is still a mystery, but of course, this time they have something to look for.

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The Ark of Truth is a piece of technology, which would show the Ori’s followers and leaders the lies within their faith. Finding it is the end to the tyranny the Ori have brought to the universe. The team are lead on huge mission, involving a lot of elements that will keep hardcore fans of the show and passers-by happy.  

The Ark Of Truth is terrific. Visually, it is an absolute dream, with special effects, that not only rival, but also completely defeat anything seen in the series. As well as this, the colour palette is rich and thick, and much fuller, than that of the final few years of SG-1. This, in part, is explained in the commentary for the film. For the last few years of Stargate SG-1 they shot every scene in HD. When they thought about it and compared it to 35mm that they used from season two, they could clearly see the difference, explaining 35mm as the “truly superior” medium.

I couldn’t agree more. The lush feel makes the last few years of Stargate SG-1 feel like a burden, like we had been cheated out of the visual quality that The Ark Of Truth has. Of course, there other elements like the improved sound, better quality sets and bigger battles, the likes of which have never been truly tried in the Stargate universe. All of which makes it much more of an epic setting than anything before it.

And therein lies some of the problem. It’s one thing that I’ve always been in two minds about on SG-1. I always loved the sci-fi stuff, the going to other worlds, meeting people, and defeating problems. When it got to about season three or four, the big epic space battles got a little too normal. Everyone else had done it, why did Stargate need to? Truth is, it actually created some interesting storyline tweaks, and created a brilliant divide between it and other sci-fi shows.

So while that is sometimes used in this film where it may not necessarily be needed, the majority is truly a joy. And when this film is over, a second one begins. Stargate: Continuum will be released a few months from now, and will go right back to Stargate’s glory days. The Goa’uld will be the enemy, time travel will be an important element, and O’Neill will be back in action.

Even without these elements, The Ark Of Truth is intensely brilliant, and serves as a fitting end to the Ori storyline, and a brilliant lead up to what should be the best two hours of Stargate ever.

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The extras on the disc are good, but as with any action or sci-fi show, they do go on a bit. In particular, the explanation of how long it takes and how much goes into it is fine for someone who likes the process, but gets kind of tedious for general fans of sci-fi to sit through. Still, the commentary doesn’t focus on that too much, and instead focuses on actors, the final product and the warmth of choosing 35mm over HD, which is all actually really interesting, especially for long time fans of the show.

There are some other nice features, like the Stargate SG-1 San Diego Comic Con, which shows the true geek in show’s fanbase, and the fun that the actors have working together. Even if some comments about Scottish people are a little offhand!

The Uncovering section has a wealth of material, enough to fill a full half hour on the disk, showing the work behind some of the more incredible looking effects in the film. Plus there’s some nice chatting to actors and directors about how things go about being done. And last but not least, a prelude. The prelude is a nice little feature for those people that just decided to skip seasons nine and ten because O’Neill left. It puts everything important from those 40 episodes into a ten minute rundown, and is a nice add-on to have on the disc, even just for the purpose of leading you back into a storyline you may have become unfamiliar with in the year and a half gap between SG-1 finishing and this DVD surfacing.

And that’s your lot, a nice wee selection of extras. Of course, I would have appreciated more in the way of cast interviews, outtakes, deleted scenes, but this will have to do for the time being.

All in all, the folks at MGM have outdone themselves with this DVD, proving that the letters TVM don’t necessarily have to spell awful. And even with a few blank spots on the extras side, the package is definitely worth checking out.

Now, how long do we have to wait for Continuum, again?

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