DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Ben Browder as CAMERON MITCHELL
    Amanda Tapping as SAMANTHA CARTER
    Christopher Judge as TEAL’C
    Claudia Black as VALA MAL DORAN
    Michael Shanks as DANIEL JACKSON
    Beau Bridges as GENERAL LANDRY

    Not Rated
    Studio: MGM/Fox

    Directed by: Robert C. Cooper
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There’s no doubt that the “Stargate” universe has been through a roller coaster. It started with a film in 1994 that spawned a series on Showtime. After five years, Showtime dropped “Stargate: SG-1,” only to have it return on the SciFi Channel. Then, in season nine, it lost its anchor star, Richard Dean Anderson, living for two more years before being canceled.

Now, there’s new life in the “Stargate” universe, and I’m not talking about the additional series “Stargate: Atlantis.” This new life is coming on DVD, starting with “Stargate: The Ark of Truth.” This feature-length film puts a final cap on the Ori story arc that was partially resolved at the end of season ten.

The SG-1 team is searching for a weapon from the Ancients that can be used to defeat the Ori once and for all. While the team thinks they have wiped out the Ori in season ten, they can’t be sure. And the new challenge is to defeat the Ori’s human-hybrid warriors known as the Priors. The Ark is rumored to literally shine the light of truth on people and make them believe that the Ori are not gods.

Of course, things are on a timeline as the Ori army is planning an assault on Earth. While Jackson (Michael Shanks), Vala (Claudia Black) and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) hunt down the artifact, Mitchell (Ben Browder) and Carter (Amanda Tapping) ready a new battleship to fight off the Ori assault.

The popularity of the “Stargate” franchise can often be its own downfall. My first introduction to the series, outside of the 1994 feature film, was season nine on DVD. This is not how I would suggest getting into a series. Coming in at the tail end of the series can be confusing at best. So much mythology has been established with the characters and the setting that it is impossible to make heads or tails of the show.

However, if you have a modicum of knowledge about the “Stargate” universe, you should be able to understand “The Ark of Truth,” thanks to a nine-minute introduction to the film on the DVD. Of course, it’s best to have the full history of the show behind you, which works for the fans. But I wouldn’t rush out and rent ten seasons of the TV show just yet.

But “The Ark of Truth” really isn’t made for the newbie. It’s made for the fans. The movie is clearly a solid attempt to wrap up the SG-1 series, which seemed to have been cut short to some avid watchers. The movie is bigger than your standard two-episode story arc. It’s shot on 35mm and has some pretty nifty special effects. It’s clear they had more to work with, budget-wise, for this film.

Yet, “The Ark of Truth” is still satisfying if you’re a fan of the show. It doesn’t deviate too far from the spirit of the series, and ultimately, it opens things up for the show to live on in these DVD movies. Indeed (as our good friend Teal’c would say), it’s a launching pad for the upcoming “Stargate: Continuum,” due out in July.

With no knowledge of “Stargate,” you’re going to be left in the dust. But if you understand who the characters are, where they’ve been and the universe in which they live, “The Ark of Truth” can be an exciting adventure.

The DVD comes with a decent selection of special features, including a commentary with director Robert C. Cooper, cinematographer Peter Woeste and actor Christopher Judge. There’s the essential nine-minute prelude that is required viewing for anyone needing to catch up to this point in the series, as well as a 30-minute featurette covering the behind the scenes of the film.

One of the most humorous extras is a panel from the 2007 Comic-Con in which some lucky fans got to ask questions of the “Stargate” cast and crew. Gary Jones, who normally sits at a computer on the show announcing things like “Incoming wormhole!,” moderates the Q&A with expert hilarity. But the best part of this is the poor, pathetic fan who wants to sing a tribute to the show to the tune of SmashMouth’s “All Star.” There’s just nothing like being booed from the stage by 4,000 of your closest friends.

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