Marillion’s fifteenth album

The British band Marillion (your Editor-in-Chief’s favorite band, FYI) have just named their upcoming fifteenth studio album. The double album Happiness is the Road is currently scheduled for release in the July-September 2008 time frame. To sample Marillion’s music for free, download the “Crash Course” sampler.

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Stargate SG-1 ‘The Ark of Truth’

When Sci Fi Channel abruptly canceled Stargate SG-1 last year I was one of the many who felt it was too soon. If you had asked me during season eight I would have said it was time, but both Ben Browder and Claudia Black really helped revitalize the character dynamic and the storyline with the Ori really energized things. I agree with the producers that it almost felt like a brand new show. Adding insult to injury was the kick in the gut that the staff of the show did not get enough notice to write a proper resolution to the ongoing story threads. In fact, the final episode did very little in the way of wrapping things up. Fortunately, by the end of the season MGM had agreed to let show continue in the form of two direct-to-DVD movies, the first of which would end the story of the Ori with the second acting as a standalone adventure. The first DVD, The Ark of Truth is now out in stores and has definitely proved well worth the wait.

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Firstly, this movie is most definitely for the fans and is a direct continuation from season ten. If you’re not familiar with the Stargate franchise in general and the last coupe of seasons of SG-1 specifically you will most likely be at a loss as to what is going on ( although there is something on the disc that can help you with that). Since this is by intention and since I am a big fan, this is not an issue and this review will proceed as if you know what has been going on, so be forewarned.

The movie starts out with a little Ancient history, literally. The beings that would one day become the Ancients have decided to leave the galaxy of the Ori for greener, and less antagonistic presumably, pastures. One among the group, Amelius, has created a device called the Ark of Truth that allows whoever it is used upon to see only what is true. The rest of the group has decided not to use the Ark on the followers of the Ori, but rather to tuck tail and run. And so they do, destroying their abandoned base and burying the Ark in the process. Cut to the present day and some ancient ruins where we find SG-1 having found an artifact that could well be the fabled device that Merlin has been leading them to and could allow them to defeat the Priors of the Ori. Our heroes had previously sent another device to the Ori galaxy that should have destroyed them, but their henchmen, the Priors, seemed to have missed the memo because they have continued their pogrom-like pilgrimage against the non-believers in our galaxy. The Priors are aided and abetted by legions of soldiers and it is a group of these warriors, lead by Vala’s former husband Tomin, that SG-1 finds itself surrounded by. The Ark that they’ve found is proven to be nothing of the sort, but thanks to an inhibitor field our heroes are able to prove to Tomin that the Prior with him is not a true tool of the gods, but merely a tool. See, told you you needed to have been watching.

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The rest of the movie is an epic tale that is a more satisfying series finale for Stargate SG-1. The entire team is really put through the ringer and you really wonder if everyone is going to make it through this one alive. There are also some fun surprises here and there including the return of an old adversary in an even more menacing form. However, as dire as it gets for our old friends don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. The banter between Daniel Jackson, Vala, Mitchell, T’ealc and Colonel Carter has never been sharper. You can tell the actors really do enjoy portraying these characters and, at the very least, you will walk away not only wanting to watch this movie again, but may just be nostalgically compelled to re-watch the entire series from episode one. The final scene is classic Stargate and will leave you smiling.

There are a few extras on the disc including a nine minute prelude which does a fairly good job of explaining things to those who have never watched before or who may have missed some episodes towards the end. You can even choose to watch the movie with this prelude included at the beginning, sort of an amped up “Previously on Stargate SG-1…” For those of use loyal viewers it is still a treat as it really highlights the epic nature of the full Ori storyline and let’s you appreciate how very different it is to the Goa’uld story that dominated most of the series.

Also included is a twenty minute highlight feature on the Stargate panel at last year’s San Diego Comicon. It’s fun to watch the cast being themselves. There is also a very engaging thirty minute behind-the-scenes/making-of feature, although it could have included more about the development of the story and all the mythology that has been up over the last couple of years. The most disappointing extra is the feature-length commentary by writer-director Robert C. Cooper, director of photography Peter F. Woeste, and actor Christopher Judge. It comes across more as a film class lecture in most places with very little discussion of the scenes on the screen. It’s still interesting to listen to, though.

All in all, I highly recommend this DVD, most especially to fans of the show, but with the prelude I think newcomers will also find it highly entertaining. Now the wait begins for the next direct-to-DVD movie, due in just a few months. Maybe it is time to re-watch the whole series…

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