Friday, March 16, 2012

"Stargate: The Ark of Truth" (2008)

Starring Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping and Michael Shanks
Written and directed by Robert C. Cooper
Not Rated - Language, violence
Running Time: 102 Minutes

After being unceremoniously canceled just after it's 200th episode, the long-running sci-fi TV series "Stargate SG-1" turned to the realm of home video to conclude its ongoing storylines.

As the armies of the Ori ravage the galaxy, subjugating or killing all who oppose their religious doctrine, Colonel Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), Colonel Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Teal'c (Christopher Judge), Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black) search for an Ancient artifact known as the Ark of Truth in the ruins of the planet Dakara.  Soon enough, they are set upon by Ori soldiers led by Tomin (Tim Guinee), Vala's husband.  After managing to kill a Prior of the Ori, Tomin is convinced to switch sides and help SG-1 defend the galaxy by finding the Ark.

SG-1, along with Tomin and an IOA representative named Merrick (Currie Graham) use the Earth starship Odyssey to travel to the Ori galaxy and seek out the Ark.  But once there, Merrick reveals his true mission: to infect the Ori galaxy with a technological menace called the Replicators.  While Mitchell and Carter attempt to stop Merrick's deluded plan, Daniel, Vala, Teal'c and Tomin must locate the Ark and convince the followers of the Ori to stop their deadly plans for conquest.

If any of that description made any sense to you, then you probably at least watched the last two years of "Stargate SG-1".  If it didn't... then you probably won't have much of a good time watching "The Ark of Truth."  There's a basic attempt to throw the premise at any new viewers by means of some expository dialogue, but for the most part, this movie continues right on from where the TV show left off.

Is that a good thing?  Kinda/sorta.  As a movie, "The Ark of Truth" is pretty messy.  There's a ton of stuff going on, since this movie basically attempts to cram an entire season's worth of storyline into the running time of about two episodes.  Worse, it introduces the Replicator subplot about halfway through that nearly derails the back half of the film.  The Replicators were an enemy that was so played out by the time they had been dealt with finally on the TV show that bringing them back here again once more two seasons after they were dead and gone is almost totally groan-worthy.

The Ori side of the story is decent enough, but this is far from the franchise's greatest moment.  It basically plays out exactly like you expect it to, without anything in the way of intriguing twists or new concepts.  While the TV show was never exactly high art, it always managed to be entertaining, often greatly so.  This movie is alright, but that's about it.  For closing out two years of storylines, it feels... small.  Even with the larger budget and running time granted to it, it never feels big or epic enough.  Certainly, the TV show at times managed to feel much more than this film.

As a movie, it does feature a higher budget and slightly loosened restrictions on violence and language. The cast gets to swear a few times, the violence is a little harsher and bloodier.  At best, though, the film might be in the PG-13 range.

In all, this is a mildly entertaining continuation of an entertaining TV series.  If you liked the show, you'll probably want to or have already checked out "The Ark of Truth."  If you've never seen the show, this probably isn't going to make you a fan. It's too densely mired in the mythology of the show for new fans to jump aboard, but it also doesn't quite treat long-time fans with the best it has to offer.