Stargate: Children of the Gods (The Final Cut)

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childrengods.jpg

1997 (pilot), 2009 (The Final Cut)

Genres:
Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Military

Starring:
Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge

Summary:
Stargate: Children of the Gods was originally broadcast as a pilot to the hugely successfuly television series. In 2009, the pilot was remastered as a movie with updated digital effects, a new musical score, and director's edits. This version is referred to as The Final Cut.

A year after events in the movie in which a portal to other worlds was discovered, the stargate is now in storage in an underground military facility. A mysterious alien force abruptly comes through, killing several soldiers and kidnapping a woman. The head of the facility assembles a team to return through the stargate to the world of Abados to retrieve Daniel Jackson (Shanks). He has been living there with his new wife and may have some knowledge about the mysterious aliens. Led by Colonel Jack O'Neil (Anderson), the team reunites with Jackson and learns that the aliens may represent a threat not just Earth but the entire galaxy.

Unfortunately, during the reunion on Abados, the aliens make another appearance through the stargate and kidnap Jackson's wife and brother-in-law. A rescue mission is undertaken where the team learns that the aliens are called Goa'uld, a parastic slug-like species that requires human hosts. The kidnapees have the distinction of being chosen for this role. Along with astrophysicist Samantha Carter (Tapping) and turncoat alien Teal'c (Judge), the team rescues most of the prisoners and cement themselves as an enemy of the Goa'uld.

Response:
Unlike other long-running science fiction series, the main characters of Stargate are fully formed from the first episode (check out the first few episodes of one of the Star Trek incarnations if you want to see what I mean). Anderson plays the wise-cracking slightly gruff O'Neil perfectly from the beginning, paving the way for one of the most popular lead characters in the history of sci-fi television. Both Carter and Jackson change quite a lot throughout the 10 years of the TV series, but the foundation of their personalities and relationships has a perfect beginning in Children of the Gods. And Teal'c... well, he's got that deep monotone and inability to use contractions mastered from the first episode.

The story provides a great transition between the film and the long-running television series. For those unfamiliar with either, there's enough backstory explanation for Children of the Gods to stand alone as an entertaining flick. Although the ending is by no means a cliff hanger, the 'let's-go-explore-exciting-worlds-throughout-the-galaxy-with-nasty-aliens-lurking-somewhere' conclusion certainly entices the viewer to check out the subsequent episodes.

The edits and udpates in the remastered version were quite subtle, and I had to watch the special features on the DVD to pick up many of them. This kind of restraint in editing is actually quite refreshing compared to other director's efforts to 'improve' upon their previous work (ahem, Lucas). The brief feature about the remastered version pointed out several edits that I didn't notice but no doubt improved on the story. For example, during Carter's introduction in the original version, she points out to O'Neil that she's no different from him just because 'her reproductive organs are on the inside of her body'. Ouch, bad dialogue- but completely absent from The Final Cut.

I did find the choice to omit the nudity in this version a bit odd. In the original version, there's a couple of full frontal nude scenes when the women are prepared for the host ceremony, but these were deleted from The Final Cut. It made sense that the director wanted to make the feature more family-friendly with a PG rating. But it didn't make sense that they retained the associated scene showing a slimy alien slug popping out of a slave's stomach and darting into the neck of a screaming woman. Apparently boobs are less family friendly than parasitic aliens? When I skimmed through the commentary special feature, it was quite nice to see that MacGyver, sorry, Richard Dean Anderson, picked up on this as well.

Point Blank:
A must-see if you're a fan of the film or the TV series (or want to be).