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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > TV > Stargate: Atlantis - Rising (Pilot)

Stargate Atlantis: Rising (Pilot Episode)


Picture: A-     Sound: B+     Extras: B-     Film: B-



I always have a hard time answering someone when they ask me if I like Sci-Fi.  The reason for that is due to my awareness of how I must present my answer in order to be clear of the type of Science Fiction that I enjoy.  Believe it or not Science Fiction reaches beyond Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Twilight Zone, even as good as these three entities are.  However, there has been a lot of ‘splits’ that have occurred over the past few decades with the genre as it has evolved into something unusual and confusing all at the same time.


To explain in simple terms is to say that Science Fiction has become more watered down in the past few decades with less imaginative thought and more creative make-up and special effects.  Unfortunately TV has ruined much of this with the over saturation of spin-off after spin-off of the genre and rehashing of every sort.  We rarely are treated to some the brilliance of older shows like Sapphire and Steel, which we at this site thoroughly enjoyed and is reviewed elsewhere.  This brings us to something like Stargate Atlantis: Rising, which to me sounds like a mix between the film Stargate with that Disney film Atlantis and the cover will make you think either The Abyss, The Deep, or perhaps even the impressive Titan A.E.


Where are the films like Tron or 12 Monkeys these days?  How often do we get a mixture of the Sci-Fi genre with the philosophy involved in Donnie Darko, of the comedic route with Real Genius and Galaxy Quest?  Of course the major films to come out involving Science Fiction are dwindling, as they are turning more Fantasy-like.  This was no doubt due to some of the major bombs that hit during the later portion of the 90’s like Sphere or The Fifth Element.  Although films like The Matrix revitalized it a tad bit, the over saturation with 2 sequels that were a total atrocity to the trilogy made it a tough recovery.  When are we going to see more interesting mixes like Starship Troopers or the genre played with in a suspenseful was like Hollow Man?  Of course we are far past the early days of cinema when the genre stood for big overlapping ideas that were realized more fully by the involvement of the audience, like the classic Fritz Lang film Metropolis (reviewed on this site) or Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece Alphaville (also on this site).  I know I am leaving out tons of B-pictures and such, the list is lengthy from The Day the Earth Stood Still and the original War of the Worlds up to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner.  


To clarify, though, this is a made for TV spin-off from Stargate SG-1 and Rising is the pilot episode that runs two hours, which has gained some major popularity to even the shock of some of the most optimistic critics.  SG-1 has been doing well ever since 1997 and was in fact a spin-off itself from the very mixed 1994 Roland Emmerich film simply titles Stargate that has been issued more times on DVD than just about any other film out there. 


So how does the pilot episode for a TV show that is a spin-off from another TV show that was a spin-off of a feature film hold up?  Well, Atlantis is a different beast altogether from SG-1, and most fans will accept or even welcome the changeover.  In fact, I would almost compare this to the die-hard Trekkies who stayed on board through the transformation between The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and of course the many indifferences between the major motion pictures throughout the years, oh and lets not forget Enterprise. 


I think that anyone who gives enough grace will find this to be a rewarding evening of entertainment regardless of your affiliation with the TV programs, in fact if you’ve never saw an episode of anything that was SG-1 or even remotely close, you might walk away a new fan interested in going back and finding out more.  The pilot episode certainly makes you curious to see where this will all lead, although some viewers may check out early when they become a bit confused with how the show differs from it’s predecessors and where it’s all heading, or better yet…do we want to head this direction period. 


MGM’s presentation is fairly solid all around with a 1.78 X 1 anamorphic transfer from the digital 1,080i High Definition source and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.  Nothing unexpected here as we have come to automatically assumes that MGM is going with Dolby sound for their DVD’s.  The mix is well rounded, but lacking in punch that makes the emphasis for DTS all the more reasonable.  I can’t express this fact enough and will continue to bring that point up until more consumers and studios realize how insane it is to NOT go with DTS sound as at least an option over Dolby, this should be standardized.  The picture quality shows good detail and colors with minor amounts of grain and softness.  Hopefully, Sony will add DTS as they take over the catalog.


No extras, no surprise.  There is little need for rallying people into buying something that they most likely will be all over anyway; fans of the genre are fans, no matter what.  The Stargate franchise as it is becoming, along with the Trek material has been some of the best selling product on the DVD format every since the beginning and still continues to move product faster than UPS can say, “sign here”.



-   Nate Goss


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