It was quite fantastic to hear that two Stargate SG-1 films were greenlit, with the first being Stargate: The Ark of Truth, released in 2008, which wrapped up the two-year Ori story arc. I was ecstatic because I loved Stargate SG-1, and Stargate: Atlantis!
Anyone who knows fandom like I do, there are two very important things worthy of much attention: Proper chronology and continuity. Deviations from either of these can cause quite the uproar among fandom. With this in mind, the film takes place after Stargate SG-1 Season 10‘s finale, “Unending,” but before Stargate: Atlantis Season 3‘s finale, “First Strike.” According to the IGN review:
SCI FI Channel may have ended the groundbreaking 10-season run of Stargate SG-1, but like many of the enemies the show’s heroes have fought over the years, the franchise is not so easily dispatched. The first of two new direct-to-DVD movies, Stargate: Ark of Truth concludes the storyline that provided the major conflict of the last two seasons, the battle to prevent the Ori invasion of the Milky Way galaxy. With the Ori mostly destroyed in the series finale, “Unending,” the remaining Priors are now the greatest threat to mankind. But there is hope of defeating them in an ancient device called the Ark of Truth. As the title implies, the search for that particular deus ex machina is the main focus of the new movie.
Originally built by the Altarians, the ark can essentially brainwash those who look at it, causing them to believe whatever the programmer wants them to, as long as it’s true. The intended purpose of the ark was to convince the followers of the Ori that they are not gods, but the ancients ultimately came to the conclusion that it was just another form of domination and abandoned the idea. Now, it may be the only hope of defeating the Priors and stopping the spread of the false religion Origin across the galaxies.
Following a false lead on the planet Dakara, Daniel (Michael Shanks), Carter (Amanda Tapping), Mitchell (Ben Browder), Teal’c (Christopher Judge) and Vala (Claudia Black) encounter a Prior and a group of Ori warriors led by Tomin (Tim Guinee). They prevail using the inhibitor device to neutralize the Prior’s abilities, causing the warriors to question their loyalties. The newly reformed Tomin is brought to Stargate command and provides the team with information that could lead to the real location of the ark.
Soon after the team returns, they receive a visit from James Marrick (Currie Graham), a representative from the IOA. He tells them that his mission is to interrogate Tomin and prepare a report, but his reasons for being there are far more devious. He insists on joining the crew of the Odyssey as they head for the Ori homeworld, where the ark may be buried, via the Supergate. In the space above Celestis, as well as the planet below, they encounter more than one old foe with powers greater than they ever imagined. But then, that’s all par for the course for SG-1.
It’s understandable that the producers and the creative team behind Stargate SG-1wanted to definitively wrap up the Ori storyline after the open-ended events of the series finale, but the invention of the ark device (both literally and figuratively) seems just a little too neat. Though no mention of it was made in the series, suddenly we have this magic object which can nullify the spread of false religious ideology, the source of the Ori’s power. And the vast implications of a piece of technology which can force anyone to believe anything that is “true” (and how does it determine that, exactly?) are never fully explored. The solution is convenient, sure, but its mechanisms could have been a little better thought out.
Also slightly disappointing are the production values, which don’t stand out from the average SG-1 episode (which were always admittedly better than the average television show). It’s not that they look cheap by any means, it’s just that expectations are raised for a movie of this caliber. The fact that the movie was made for the small screen should not be an excuse for holding back on the visuals. Perhaps they were saving it for the next movie, Stargate: Continuum, which filmed in the arctic and, judging by the trailer included on this disc, already looks far more impressive.
Essentially, what you get with Ark of Truth is a new, extended episode of SG-1, an uncommon treat now that the show is off the air. It is undeniably good to see the team back in action; it would have been even better had it been just a little more thoughtful and lot more cinematic.