"STARGATE UNIVERSE: 1.5"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Robert Carlyle as DR. NICHOLAS RUSH
Justin Louis as EVERETT YOUNG
Brian J. Smith as MATTHEW SCOTT
Elyse Levesque as CHLOE ARMSTRONG
David Blue as ELI WALLACE
Alaina Huffman as TAMARA JOHANSEN
Jamil Walker Smith as RONALD GREER
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
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MGM presents the second half of the new series in the “Stargate” universe. In this revamped version of the sci-fi adventure series, a random group of military members, politicians, media and civilians are attacked and forced to step through the stargate to an Ancient ship in another galaxy – the Destiny. They find themselves aboard an ancient supership billions of light years from Earth. In the second half of the season, the group faces more interpersonal challenges as well as a new threat of aggressive and completely new aliens as well as a cliffhanger with the Lucian Alliance finding their way aboard the Destiny.
WHAT I LIKED
Like many sci-fi fans out there, I watched all fifteen seasons of the two previous “Stargate” incarnations. Earlier in the season of “Stargate Universe,” I watched the series with great intent and attention. It is my least favorite of the “Stargate” series, but there were some very notable positive aspects.
First, this is the most cinematic looking of the three series. By this point, the showrunners and crew have mastered the use of high definition shooting and really have the embedded effects down to a point of near perfection. “Stargate Universe” is the slickest looking of the whole universe, and it has a strong, stark and consistent look. We’ve come a long way from the cheesy, plastic look of early “Stargate SG-1.”
There is also a lot of hope. While “Stargate Universe” isn’t pulling in the best ratings (sadly approaching the lows we saw at the end of the run of “Stargate Atlantis”), there is always hope for a sci-fi series. In its early days, “SG-1” was pretty awful at times and had a lot of awkwardness to grow out of. I hope this is what can happen with “Stargate Universe.”
In short, there’s still a lot of potential here, and there’s plenty of places to go. If the lesser “Star Trek” series like “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” can find some footing with similar painted-in-the-corner premises, I have faith that “Stargate Universe” can too.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I have been noticeably vocal about what I do not like about this series, and I am not alone. There are many die-hard “Stargate” fans that share my views. The arguments have been said before... the communication stones are a cheat and should be done away with, the military is weak-willed, there’s too much bickering among the crew, the civilian population on Destiny is either spineless or subversive to everyone’s well-being and the show itself “borrows” a bit too much in style and story elements from the fantastic series “Battlestar Galactica.”
The nice thing about these calls from the disgruntled fans is that the show’s creators address some of these concerns in the special features. Sure, there’s a bit of a “we can do whatever we want because it’s our show” attitude, but it’s clear that in retrospect they are hearing the complaints.
The key to longevity in the sci-fi world is to listen to your fans. Here’s to hoping that many of the things that we found distasteful in this first season will be refined as season two and beyond continues. After all, that first season of “Stargate SG-1” was by far one of the weakest ones in its whole ten-year run.
Like the 1.0 release of “Stargate Universe,” the Blu-ray looks phenomenal. The transfer and presentations of the episodes are brilliant and vibrant, even as dark as they are made. The 1080p look of the series is worth waiting for home video, even if you get SyFy HD.
There’s similar featurettes from the previous release. There’s audio commentaries on all episodes with the creators and the cast, which are always nice. Another holdover from the 1.0 release are the “Kino Video Diaries,” which give additional insight into the characters and even show them in some more lighthearted and less angsty moments.
New features include “Chatting with the Cast,” which has select cast members interview the creators. This is, incidentally, where some of the more challenging questions about fan reactions come into play. Additional featurettes includes “Tanked! Elyse Levesque Goes for a Swim” and “Designing a New Race: Space Aliens.”
There’s also a Blu-ray exclusive “SGU: Survival Instinct Game” which is a five-minute interactive game that takes the viewer through the stargate to a hostile planet, and you get to choose what to do next, for better or for worse.
Finally, two neat physical bonus features come with this release. First, there’s $10 of movie money (expiring on February 2011) to use towards the purchase of another “Stargate” title. Also, if you sprung for the 1.0 Blu-ray, a sleeve comes in the packaging that will hold together that release with this one on your DVD and Blu-ray shelf.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Those who are curious about the show but aren’t too in love with the other “Stargate” series.