Friday, July 17, 2009

Stargate SG-1: Continuum

A team that will be sorely missed in the world of science ficiton. Here they are together in their final run for Stargate SG-1.

The wonderful partnership of O'Neill and Carter - friends with potential. SG-1 wormholes its way to watch the execution of the last of the remaining System Lords, Baal, in Stargate SG-1, Continuum. The symbiote will be executed before our favorite, fearless military team. The team here consists of Cameron Mitchell, Samantha Carter, Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Teal'c and Vala. It is good to see the six together in one frame as it was a rare thing throughout Season Nine and Ten of the SG-1 series. Baal makes the suggestion he may not be the last. You'll recall, there were many clones made of Baal as seen in Insiders [Stargate SG-1, Season Ten, Episode 4]. The execution begins and Mitchell is very much looking forward to the extraction.

Flashback to the Atlantic Ocean 1939 on an ocean freighter where in the cargo hold a stargate activates blowing out and burning a round hole clear through the ship's hull. Enter Baal and some of his Jaffa minions. Baal leaves a bomb behind on the boat before waltzing back through the stargate intended to destroy the stargate. The surviving captain of the ship manages to throw the bomb through the gaping hole where it explodes in the water.

"Have you ever tried to find a bathroom in a pyramid?" Yes, Richard Dean Anderson is back as the always flippant, but beloved Jack O'Neill.

Suddenly, Teal'c and Vala disappear out of the blue. A number of the good guys begin to disappear as well. O'Neill is stabbed by Baal as he tries to grab him for answers. Mitchell quickly fills Baal full of lead - dead. People begin vanishing and as O'Neill slides away he tells Mitchell, Jackson and Carter to get out of dodge. They run and flee through the stargate as the city slowly disappears behind them landing on the aforementioned ocean freighter now frozen deep within the Arctic ice.

Carter, Mitchell and Jackson are quickly headed for trouble freezing to death and decide making a break for it is their only hope. They blow a hole in the ice and climb to the surface. Much was made of the filming of this movie in the frigid temperatures by Browder and company and there is indeed an air of authenticity to the look and temperate feel of the location shooting. Daniel's leg is frostbitten and he is unable to move. Carter and Mitchell venture off to find help. In the end, Carter and Mitchell find unexpected help on the surface in the form of Jack O'Neill. This is, of course, an O'Neill they have yet to meet at this point. There is an impressive sequence with the surfacing of a submarine through the ice cap. Still, I felt it should have been a little more dramatic given the effort and time placed into this unique and special on location moment.

Unfortunately, for me, we have one of these alternate timeline stories going. Part of me is not a big fan of these threads. They get tiresome to me. Alternate realities, alternate timelines, alternate realities within alternate realities within alternate timelines, blah blah blah. A good science fiction story doesn't have to be built around an alternate timeline, though some are. Don't get me wrong it can work just fine, but I felt I was a bit alternate timeline fatigued at this point. I had seen plenty of them in Stargate SG-1 and I've lost interest in Lost. So at this point I wasn't loving the general plotline. As I mentioned, as a result of the alternate time angle, Jack clearly didn't know Carter, Mitchell or Jackson. They were strangers to him.

Jackson, minus a leg, Carter and Mitchell do their damndest to explain where they are from, when they are from and the threats posed to Earth. Yes, I think we've seen elements of this before through the ten season run of Stargate SG-1. It just wasn't feeling all that fresh. If I was in the room when it was being pitched I would have said, 'no freakin' way! NO alternate timelines!' Still, I did like the split screen. I thought it was effective and interesting. It challenged my pathetic ability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time otherwise known as multi-tasking.

Some of the lighting was also not impressive in some sequences. Some scenes were solid and some of the spectacle was definitely there for a straight-to-DVD film. Anyway, with little convincing to O'Neill, and then Landry, it is decided our displaced trio would be entered into a relocation program complete with a new identity. O'Neill and Landry certainly recognize Carter who is apparently an astronaut who is presumed dead. Jackson is nutty as a fruitcake in their timeline and they aren't buying any of his stories, despite picking up the energy signature of the stargate on satellite. It was that very stargate that got them into their current predicament, still alternate timeline O'Neill and Landry are suspect. The friends are relocated to different sections of the country and are required to not make contact with one another.

Mitchell drives a classic, yellow Ford Mustang classic! Shhweet! Jackson contacts himself to let himself know everything he wrote about the pyramids is sooo true. A Goa'uld spaceship is spotted by Carter. It makes the news and our heroes contact one another for the first time. Because everyone knows, our friends just cannot keep apart. They are like brothers and sisters as comrades-in-arms. They simply cannot stay quiet.

An imminent invasion of Earth is upon them. As the Baal fleet approaches, Teal'c is one of the Jaffa serving Baal. We are also treated to the surprising return of Peter Williams as Apophis for a brief moment, before he is summarily executed by Baal. I must say I've always been a big Cliff Simon fan. The actor is brilliant as one of SG-1's arch nemesis. He is simply a pleasure to watch in the series and this is all I base my opinion on of the actor. We also find Vala is by Baal's side as a Goa'uld.

Don Davis appears as General Hammond. I had forgotten he filmed his part for Continuum before passing away and it was a huge, pleasant surprise to see him despite not registering the fact he was very much apart of the credit roll. He was always a treasure on that series. I love the man. I love when Carter, like myself, is excited to see Hammond and he doesn't know who they are. Such a sock to the gut for her. Most SG-1 fans were pretty pleased to see him here despite the bit role.

The President calls Mitchell, Carter and Jackson. They are called to his office. The government needs their help. William Devane as the President is always a hoot. He's a natural as President of The United States. Does he actually play anything else? Our fearless trio have their mission and off they go, but will they make it in time?

It was amusing to see all of the familiar Goa'uld faces on board Lord Baal's vessel including: Vince Crestejo as Yu and Steve Bacic as Camulus to name a few. The ships are entering Earth airspace. Baal calls the President and must end the call when Vala/Quetesh [with her Goa'uld symbiote] sticks a sword through his belly. Teal'c reports to Baal [now with the sword through his gut] that the Earthlings have found the stargate. Quetesh makes an effort to kill Teal'c. Teal'c runs for it and rings away from the vessel to one of the fleet ships.

Quetesh gives orders to the to Goa'uld System Lords to waste Earth and orders Teal'c's death, once again a hero to the Jaffa. Quetesh plans on exiting to Praxia. Teal'c knows the only way to finish this fight is to stop Quetesh. He knows of another stargate.

The bombardment of Earth begins. The air force fighters take airborne. With the gate destroyed in the Antarctic it is determined the Russians have another gate. Mitchell and company are enroute. Firefights ensue with the Goa'uld. The Russians assist in taking them out.

In a hangar, our trio reaches the Russian stargate. An Al'Kesh lands on the roof and a forcefield goes up around the hanger. It is Teal'c to the rescue. Teal'c doesn't know his friends of course in this timeline. He rings in to use the stargate as well. He's there to avenge Baal's death, the final task of the Jaffa for a master. An attack commences on their location as a standstill persists. With weapons drawn they are lowered with the intention of working together. They all get through the gate in a nick of time.

Teal'c wants to know why he shouldn't kill Mitchell, but Mitchell tells Teal'c he is a good man. Jackson explains how Baal changed things up and made Teal'c his first prime and Vala/ Quetesh his queen to control them. They begin working quickly before Quetesh arrives.

She arrives and the battle begins. As the Jaffa ring down they are eliminated while Sam works diligently on the time device. The body count begins to pile up. Jackson is shot and killed by a staff weapon. Carter, too, is shot in the back. The gate is activated and Mitchell jumps through while Teal'c is killed as well. Vala arrives and Teal'c blows them up as his final act of dying a free Jaffa.

Flashback to the ocean liner in 1939 where Mitchell, heavily made-up, is the ship's captain [something referred to the Grandfather paradox]. That's a pretty cool moment. This time they are prepared for the boarding party. Baal is killed with a single shot to the head. History will not repeat itself. You'll recall the tagline to the film. Mitchell saves the day.
It's hard to believe these wee little Goa'uld were a problem for over ten years. Go figure.
Returning to the extraction of Baal, the System Lord is removed and killed. Baal is now de-balled and Vala is right there to pick up the pieces. She is a sex fiend. I like her! The anti-climax of it all is pretty funny. All is well and Jack O'Neill is buying lunch no less. It's a bit much to see Richard Dean Anderson always as the funny man. I liked it in the series because it was a mix of the comedic with the serious. The older actor he is, he gets saddled with the humor card in excess. He's much less the action man and more the comedic foil at this point. I know our dear actors get older and become less the action stars [i.e. Star Trek, the original actors], but Richard Dean Anderson isn't that old. He's still cool damn it!

Sam is such the geek. You have to love her. Continuum was a bit disappointing. I'm not sure I liked it even as much as The Ark Of Truth. I was a little surprised by that. It's a bit of a glorified episode of Stargate SG-1 without being quite as good as some of those. Oh well, I always have the series and the fond memories. I suspect I will return to them some day right here. I think I shall catalogue all of my favorite Jack O'Neill moments beginning with this final film.

Continuum: B-

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