BLU-RAY REVIEW: Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Series
The five season fan-favorite military sci-fi series hits hi-def home video...
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It's been said you can never have too much of a good thing and that's certainly been proven true by the fan-favorite Stargate franchise. Beginning in 1994 with Roland Emmerich's film, the franchise really exploded 3 years later under creators Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. With fans pleading for more, the show spun off into a second series, Stargate Atlantis, in 2004 and a third series, Stargate Universe, in 2009.
While many fans claim Stargate SG-1, with its 10 seasons, as their favorite, my personal favorite has always been Stargate Atlantis. Call me a fan of fantasy or mythology, but there was always something interesting to me about the sunken island which vanished without a trace and was, for lack of a better phrase, swallowed by the ocean. Created by Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, Stargate Atlantis followed the seventh season finale of SG-1, "Lost City," in which the location of the mythical city is discovered by Dr. Daniel Jackson. According to Stargate mythology, Atlantis was created by the Ancients, a race so far ahead of humankind, their science seems like magic to us. As such, mythology, technology, science, and magic play a fairly heavy role in the development of Stargate Atlantis.
The five seasons that make up the complete Stargate Atlantis series follow the adventures of a crew of humans exploring - and protecting - the Pegasus Galaxy from a variety of threats...and one in particular: the Wraith, a vampiric race of telepaths and a constant threat to all mortal life. While other enemies present themselves throughout the series, it is the Wraith which form the basis for all conflict and, throughout all five seasons, it is the Atlantis expeditions' search for a cure to the Wraith which drives each character and the story.
Led by Dr. Elizabeth Weir with military support by Major John Sheppard, the Atlantis expedition consists of a variety of characters, including Dr. Rodney McKay, Lt. Ford and the Athosian leader Teyla Emmagan. Throughout the five seasons, additional characters become major players, including Ronon Dex, Colonel Samantha Carter, and Richard Woolsey, the latter two both later leading the Atlantis expedition as the crew face insurmountable odds when facing not only the previously mentioned Wraith, but also the Genii, the Asuran, and the Asgard, all three unique aliens who have ulterior motives.
The series itself is suspenseful, action-packed, and fun in its story development. Likewise, the character development is both thoughtful and emotionally gripping throughout. What makes Stargate Atlantis not only work, but shine is the relationships viewers see form between the characters. And unlike some TV series which are afraid to make major character or cast changes, Stargate Atlantis doesn't shy away from killing off or replacing Atlantis crew members. Heck, the expedition's leadership is changed at least three times during series, meaning fans see a new leader at the helm quite often. Likewise, the season finale episodes always end with nail-biter of a cliffhanger, ensuring fans who watch a full season will find themselves with a somewhat stressful time away from the series...at least until they start the next season. Thankfully, that issue especially is solved thanks to having the entire series on blu-ray home video.
All five seasons of the series are presented here in bright, beautiful 1080p hi-def. The only issue some viewers may find with Stargate Atlantis' hi-def transfer to hi-def is some of the digital special effects seen in the series, which were created with low resolution. This means, for lack of a better way to say it, the effects look low budget and cheap. While this isn't necessarily true and it happens rarely throughout the early seasons of the series, these effects weren't made to be seen in hi-def and, as such, were never meant to be criticized this way. Otherwise, the series looks gorgeous on blu-ray, with colors glowing, dark colors looking deep and menacing, and lines and edges looking crisp with no blurring.
The series also features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track which delivers all of the series' dialogue and audio effects. Stargate Atlantis does an excellent job of emercing viewers into the setting and experiences of its characters, ensuring we hear what they hear. Be it laser blasts, rocking explosions, the crying of the injured, or the humming of engines and technology far beyond our Earthly understanding, its present and coming through loud and clear.
As for special features, each season includes a wide variety that's sure to impress both die-hard Stargate fans as well as casual viewers. First thing worth mentioning is the full series includes 88 audio commentaries in total; 14 from Season 1, 20 from Season 2, 19 from Season 3, 19 from Season 4, and from Season 5. These commentaries include both cast and crew and feature everyone from actors and actresses to writers, directors, and producers. Comments range from in style, topic, and flavor; everything from humorous commentary regarding production the serious issues, topics, and themes are discussed. For those true die-hards who're looking to get the entire and truly complete experience, this is a great place to start.
The complete series also includes a series of featurettes from each season, focusing on the specific episodes on which they're based and providing some interesting (and sometimes too brief) insight into the series as it progressed. A Set Tour (Season 1) is also included as are "A Look Back" featurettes for each of the seasons, providing - you guessed it! - a look back at each of the seasons and the progression of the series' story as a whole. Numerous deleted scenes and blooper reels are included from various season as are a number of season-specific short featurettes ranging in topic from "Inside the Stargate Atlantis Visual FX Department" (Season 3) and "Dr. Jackson Goes to Atlantis" (Season 5) to various stunt and special effects featurettes. In all, a total of 50 hours of bonus special features are included, making this - as previously mentioned - a great place for die-hard Stargate Atlantis fans to complete their journey.
When most Stargate fans are asked, they point to Stargate SG-1 as the series which made the franchise real for them. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. I'm a firm believe Stargate Atlantis is a better series, with better characters, better relationships, better stories, better villains, better suspense, better drama, better action, and better acting. I might be in the minority, but it's a vocal minority as many Stargate Atlantis fans will agree. Be sure to pick up your own copy of Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Series, available now on blu-ray hi-def wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley