Time travel stories are very difficult – the audience already knows that nothing that happens in the film is lasting – no deaths, no wounds, no losses are permanent. For this reason, the writers and producers have their work cut out for them to tell a story that draws in the audience anyway, one that the audience will care about and become totally involved in even though, in the back of their minds, they know it will all come full circle at the end. Suspension of disbelief must be earned by a completely compelling plot and moving scenes for the characters. And, above everything else, the movie-makers must take themselves seriously enough that the audience will take the story seriously, too.
While I've only watched Continuum once, and I usually have to hold back any negativity until I've watched it a few times because I have such huge expectations, I think I have it pegged. On the positive side, it was beautiful, well acted, beautifully filmed, lots of wow f/x moments and RDA! There were no Repli-Terminators, either, so that's a step in the right direction, too! The first scene was just as great as I expected it to be - Martin Wood is a terrific director - and the walk-through of the SGC was well done, and seemed as if it was just another day at the SGC. Sgt. Siler, Maj. Davis, Sgt. Harriman – it was nice to see their faces again. And, later, seeing the late Don S. Davis brought tears to my eyes.
However, it seems to me that Brad Wright and Robert Cooper have got to realize that they no longer have to PROVE that they can make features. The "try-too-hard" aspect of both Stargate films manages to be their undoing each time. A great movie starts and ends with a great script - just as a great speech must be well-written before it can be well-performed. We know the actors are fantastic, we trust the f/x and stunt people, the art director, set decorators, etc - we have all the faith in the world in Martin Wood as director, too. But without that great script, all of that adds up to a good movie, but not a movie that resonates, not a movie that gives the audience the thrill it is looking for. No amount of location shooting, frozen sets, or big honking time machines is going to have the audience in tears or in stitches. Isn't that the whole point of making a movie - to get the audience involved emotionally?
Vala's initial comments could have set the emotional tone for this movie, but didn't. Granted, she was holding Dr. Lee's big gun at the time, which told us there would be some funny character moments, too, but that was pretty much the extent of any emotional involvement with the audience. Once we got to the Tok'ra home world, heard the monks chanting a la Monty Python, and, as sad as I am to say it, the first of Jack's inane comments, I was afraid we were in for a full-on comedy. Cliff Simon hit the right notes as Ba'al, was distinctly foreboding, but the constant one-liners from Jack ruined any suspenseful build up. Jack's immediate death didn't shock, appall, or sadden me – I was just happy that it shut him up. And I had looked forward to seeing RDA in this film for months.
Fantastic scenes on the frozen ship – SG-1 at its best is the team working together to solve a problem. I missed Teal'c, but there were good dynamics here. Jeopardy, a time frame, good banter, all nicely done – the only thing that didn't work was their (non) reaction to Jack's death. Sam was quiet for a moment, yes, but were they really as relieved as I was to stop the witticisms that they had no emotional involvement about it at all? His best friend Daniel had no reaction whatsoever.
The escape from the ship was all too quick. I actually asked myself what the heck was going on when Mitchell slid down the ice. The background was so dark I couldn't tell there was actually a ship back there at all.
Let's go on to one of the major downfalls of this movie: how they handled Daniel's leg amputation. The three team members had a moment when they all realized that Daniel was in deep doo-doo, but they played it off too easily. Whatever made the producers believe that it would be more interesting and exciting for the audience to watch Sam and Cam trudge across the frozen tundra talking than to have a thrilling rescue of Daniel in the nick of time? What a waste of time! Yes, it was pretty; yes, it is cool that they got to shoot in the arctic – but if it doesn't serve the story well, why is so much time wasted on it? Emergence of the submarine was very nifty – but so what? What did it have to do with the story? Nothing. Daniel doped up was a cute scene, especially with Jack's involvement, but when they treat a disfiguring and crippling injury to one of the team like it was a hangnail removal, they have lost the audience.
We wanted to be sad about Daniel's injury, and we wanted the team to have at least one moment of horror at what was going on. But, what the heck, we'll just carry on as if nothing has happened! A little ride in a wheelchair and it's back to business as usual, right? Daniel has apparently become so well-balanced that removal of a limb is just a hop in the park.
Split screens of the team being interrogated were some of the best scenes in the movie. I loved the arrival of Gen. Landry, and his interview with the team in the hangar. Except for the complete lack of any team interaction, it was pretty good.
And now we come to a part of the movie that anyone who's seen time travel eps before was so happy to see – how the people actually manage to live with their knowledge that the life they had may never be attainable again. How does our intrepid team of space explorers handle it? Well, Sam goes grocery shopping, Cam fixes a car, and Daniel goes to a book store. Hey, at least the scene in the book store was totally great! Nicely done! But why did we absolutely need to see Sam checking out the Fruteeos? Shout out to Window of Opportunity? Enough! Serve the story of the movie or move along! Where is the depression she feels because she can't work in her field, or interact with her teammates? Is her father alive? Cameron's trip to the old homestead was very nice, and Daniel's call to himself was genius, but where was Sam's equivalent scene?
Taking a look at the other side of the story, presumably Ba'al becomes the great system lord because of his knowledge of the future. Big problem with that: once he starts changing things, he should no longer be able to figure out what is going to happen next. Maybe he's continually using his time machine to keep going back and changing things as they occur, but, if so, he's gone through many, many parallel timelines and is no longer still in the one Sam, Daniel, and Cameron came back to.
Yes, it was neat that the Air Force let the producers use F-15s. No, it was not neat to watch Sam, Cam, and Daniel from the neck up sitting in airplanes for fifteen minutes. Fly one way, refuel, turn around and fly another way, fly over the Atlantic, fire a few shots at gliders, get rescued by the Russians. That about sums it up. And yes, it was just about that exciting, too.
Seeing all the system lords again was anticlimactic, but the Ba'al scenes were generally very good. (Honestly, I didn't recognize Ra, not as imposing without his cool outfits and little kids around him.) And Ba'al's ultimate demise at the hand of Qetesh was excellent. Teal'c's role was very small, but at least it was heroic and very true to his character. Getting the cameras away from earth and onto Ba'al's mothership and this other world was a step in the right direction. At least there was finally some excitement!
The scene at Ba'al's time machine was also good. It worked. The team was together doing what they do best. But, again, the deaths were glossed over with no reaction. The end of 2010 was much more shocking, leaving the audience moved by the heroics of the heroes, the fact that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the future of mankind. Yes, I jumped when Daniel was shot, but he fell out of sight so quickly (and so did Sam) that my mind didn't have time to process it.
I must say that I loved the ending. Everything after Cam enters the wormhole was fantastic, from his killing of Ba'al to the extraction ceremony, to the scene in the locker room with the guys. Very well done.
I love the Stargate franchise, and have spent many long hours watching and rewatching the movie, SG-1 and Atlantis episodes. The characters have depth and substance, the mythology is pervasive and expansive, and the stories are entertaining and moving. The real draw of this show was never the cool ships, hypnotic light shows or space battles – it was and always has been the thought of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. People who we grew to love and admire for their selfless acts of heroism and the personal costs that affected their lives. Kudos to producers for keeping the band together, and writing and producing two feature films. You've proven yourselves to the powers that be. Can the fans now have a real movie, please? One that is about storytelling more than snow covered landscapes and military vessels? One where the audience is moved and enthralled? I would pay good money to see that.