I woke up today and went to Future Shop to buy Stargate: Continuum, although I couldn't actually watch it until after work tonight. It was worth the wait.
I admit that I feared Continuum would be a "Well, let's turn 'Moebius' into a movie." Yet another time travel episode. Yes, there were similarities--it's time travel, after all, with alternate timelines and whatnot--but this movie really captures the Stargate genre and provides the essential link between the old Stargate SG-1 series and (hopefully) the future movies to come.
The story is largely self-contained, due to the nature of the time travel. By the end, nothing in the Stargate universe has really advanced, with the exception of the execution of Ba'al. That doesn't stop it from being an excellent story, and the characters make it that way. Richard Dean Anderson's "special guest appearance" brought O'Neill back into the mix. I would have liked more of him, but what little screen time he had was well used. The other members of SG-1 were awesome. Teal'c managed to pull off yet another convincing Heel Face Turn. Michael Shanks has a fun scene where he talks to the alternate timeline version of himself on a phone--we only see our Daniel Jackson and the phone and hear one side of the conversation.
Ba'al is such a fun, classic Stargate villain. He really embodies what makes Stargate venerable: it doesn't take itself too seriously. It has fun. Ba'al is your classic evil overlord who tosses off his gloating "last lines" and claims he can never be defeated (those of you familiar with the series may recall that he came close to fulfilling that claim once and a while). Cliff Simon portrays him in exactly that way: moustache-twirling bad guy who's trying to see his latest evil scheme to fruition.
The effects are cool. The best effects, however, come from the non-visual effects. Some of the cast and crew went up to the Arctic and shot there, which is cool enough by itself. But the navy actually let them use the USS Alexandria, a nuclear-powered submarine. So we've been watching Carter and Mitchell trek across the frozen Arctic ocean, they meet up with their rescuers, and suddenly we see this submarine--a real U.S. navy submarine--surface through the ice. It is amazing. We also get to see it submerge again, and then the real crew of the submarine appears as themselves. You can tell that they are a bit nervous about appearing on camera. If you watch some of the special features, particularly "Stargate Goes to the Arctic", you'll learn how difficult some of those shots were to obtain. We also get to see some nice close-ups of real F-15s. The Air Force and Navy have been very good to the show. :P
The special features are great. I haven't watched the commentary yet, but "Stargate Goes to the Arctic" shows you how those who went to the arctic lived and filmed. "The Making of Stargate Continuum" is interesting. "The Layman's Guide to Time Travel" will be interesting if you want to learn more about time travel. :)
Stargate Continuum remains true to what Stargate SG-1 has been for ten years; existing fans will be pleased. Unlike The Ark of Truth, which served to tie up an existing storyline, Continuum will be a pleasant introduction to the series for new fans, mostly because of its self-contained nature. Those familiar with the series are going to have a grand time watching the various references from the past ten years of the show. I snickered several times when I noticed something that I recognized from another story. New fans will get to see the cast of SG-1 at their best and some great action.