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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Various

Joe Flanigan
Torri Higginson
David Hewlett

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What's it about
An International group of scientists and military dudes and dudettes have discovered the lost city of Atlantis which includes a cool porthole to the planet earth and anywhere else they may roam. Their goal is to protect the human race from a group of ravenous beasties called the Wraiths who will stop at nothing to feed on some hapless humans.
Is it good movie?
Okay. Here is the problem. I’ve never watched Stargate before (including the movie), let alone Stargate Atlantis. Add to that this particular season is the conclusion to a three part episode called “The Siege”. So I have no history here except for the fact I’m a fan of David Hewlett. So as I watched the first episode I was entertained but I wasn’t feeling it. There were some really terrific aspects of the episode including the excitement level, the special effects are pretty damn good and of course, Mr. Hewlett is great as the egotistical Dr. McKay. But when episode two and three kicked in, I found myself almost completely hooked. Not only are the effects above average for a made for cable television show, but you have a group of actors that seem to gel and they really make it worth your time to invest in them. I was most surprised by Torri Higginson and Joe Flanigan; the first couple of episodes I found them to be a bit on the dull side. They seemed a bit miscast and bland yet the more I watched, the more I started to care about the two. Torri is an interesting choice as a commanding officer, she is very striking and almost too soft but she holds her own and is able to show strength and vulnerability at the same moment. Good stuff. As for Mr. Flanigan who in the beginning felt like a low rent Han Solo really shines. The dude is very funny and he quickly grew on me. Give this group some time to work on you and they will.

The premise revolves around the discovery of the lost city of Atlantis and the men and women who protect it. During a siege on the crew, one of the officers, a young punk named Ford (Rainbow Francks), is “fed” on by a wraith. But there is an explosion which leads to Fords survival; you see, when a wraith decides to feed, he injects an enzyme into you to make you stronger so the kill is more enjoyable. This little bit of power makes for an unstable dude who begins to crave the enzyme as would an addict. He escapes from Atlantis and thus the story arc begins. If you are a fan of the show, most of the characters return for season two but it also introduces the Stargate world to Ronan Dex, played by the testosterone heavy Jason Momoa. He adds a new dynamic to the series with his sulking, ferocious rebel who joins in the good fight. And for all you X-Philes, you can’t do much better than Mitch Pileggi as the no nonsense, power hungry Colonel Steven Caldwell.

As I said, this season picks up in the third installment of a three part episode. This means if you are a newbie, it may take a little bit of time to warm up to the series. But once you do, this wonderfully scripted and acted series will warm your sci-fi loving heart. I was especially impressed with the surprisingly good direction from Martin Wood, Andy Mikita and Johnny Depp’s 21 Jump Street partner Peter DeLuise. There is a lot of style here, from the Frankenstein inspired “Instinct” to the atmospheric “The Lost Boys”. There is some creative work going on here, not only from the talented writers and directors involved but also the very inventive cinematography. It’s a very good time to be a Sci-Fi fanboy or whatever you want to call yourself. But what’s good about it, with television like this, Battlestar Galactica and the gone too soon Firefly, is that it’s proving some of the most creative work can be found in the science fiction genre.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a beautiful transfer in 1.78:1 Widescreen and it highlights the wonderful cinematography.

Audio: For a 5.1 Dolby Surround, the volume seemed to be recorded a bit too soft, but it still sounds clear so not a big problem.
The Extras
Finally somebody listened. I feel like I have to go back and mark down every TV Series DVD I have given a good review for regarding special features. Stargate Atlantis rules in this category with a whooping twenty Audio Commentaries… This includes Martin Wood, Peter DeLuise, Martin Gero, David Hewlett, Joe Flanigan, Gary Jones (from Stargate SG1), Damien Kinder, Andy Mikita, Paul Mullie, Richard Lultrell, Brenton Spencer, Amanda Topping and Torri Higginson. Each episode usually has two to three people involved in the commentary and most impressively, they are actually entertaining. I especially found Martin Gero, Peter DeLuise and David Hewlett to be interesting and/or funny. Even if the show sucked, this disc is worth your hard earned money for all the commentaries, thankfully the show far from sucks.

As for the rest of the goodies in this 5-disc set we are looking at:

Disc 1 includes two Mission Directives. The first is for The Siege Part 3 featuring Director Martin Wood (10:46) and the second is for The Intruder featuring director Peter DeLuise (10:59). Both are clever ways to do a behind the scenes featurette. It’s great to see Mr. DeLuise take on a different career aside from being Johnny Depp’s partner. Both of these features use interviews discussing the how and why of each episode.

Disc 2 continues with another Mission Directive. This time, it is for “Instinct” featuring director Andy Mikita (15:09) which also happens to be one of my favorite episodes of the season; a clever take on Frankenstein with a fun homage to An American Werewolf in London. It also features the lovely and talented Jewel Staite who is buried in Wraith prosthetics for the role. What a shame. And speaking of lovely and talented, we also get Introduction to a Character: Ronon Dex (15:06) about the, yep, you guessed it, introduction to tough guy Jason Momoa who in my humble opinion adds a bit of kick ass machismo to an already kick ass show.

Disc 3 carries on with the funny, with the very clever Road to a Dream with Martin Gero (19:15). Writer/Producer Martin Gero is the star of this mockumentary about the Stargate Atlantis scribe who longs to be an actor. So he preps for his role as the “better looking” brother to Paul McGillion. He spends the time getting advice from the other actors and ends up… well, trust me… just watch and laugh folks, one of the best extras on an already top-notch set.

Disc 4 begins with the one two punch of my favorite featurettes on this side of Atlantis. Profile on: David Hewlett (21:51) is a great look at one of my personal favorite characters on the show. His smarmy, conceited and sort of annoying character Dr.McKay is easily a bright spot on the series. Okay, I admit it… I’ve got a bit of a “man-crush” on the dude. I don’t know, maybe it’s the guy-on-guy action with Paul McGillion or maybe it’s the “suck a lemon” moment near the end. Or maybe it’s just because he is f*cking funny! I’ve been a fan of the guy since his earlier genre flicks, Cube, PIN and Scanners 2: The New Order.

We finish off disc 4 with Stargate Atlantis: Stunts (18:21) which takes a closer look at stunt coordinator James “Bambam” Bamford and his work with the actors and stuntmen. This is my least favorite featurette, but it still is a good watch and Mr. Bamford seems to know his shite.

And finally, on Disc 5, we get another funny dude with Profile on: Paul McGillion (20:42). He talks about how his Scottish accent came to be and what it’s like working with his buddy and make out partner, David Hewlett. See, I can’t stop talking about the dude. Paul also talks about telling his parents that he got the role on Stargate. Funny stuff folks.

Oh yeah, they also have Photo Galleries of the point the remote and click variety on each disc.
Last Call
Stargate Atlantis season 2 is the reason I wait for television shows to be released on DVD. And even though it was a rocky beginning, coming in too late on a three parter, the show still sucked me in like a wraith feeding on some poor helpless human. A solid television drama with some above average direction, a fantastic cast and some cool special effects makes for a great series to own. Add to that, some of the best extras on earth and you have yourself a “Must own DVD”. They don’t get much better than this. So transport yourself to your local video store and pick up what is one of the best DVD releases of the year.
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