Stargate (1994)

After finding an interstellar gateway to a new world, a team of Air Force specialists led by Colonel O’Neil (Kurt Russell) travel to a new world. What they find is an ancient Egyptian type world that is ruled by a being named Ra (Jaye Davidson)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Viveca Lindfors, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital, John Diehl

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence

Fun Fact: James Spader admits he only did the film because when he read the script he thought it was awful.

In the 90’s no one was bigger in the sci-fi action genre than Roland Emmerich. Love him or hate him you can’t deny his impact on film. If your my age (30), you most likely grew up watching his films or even owned some of them. His first feature Stargate, sure made an impact when it was released in 1994, which launched Emmerich’s career in Hollywood. While I watched Stargate quite a bit as a kid, I needed to see it as an adult to see if I had a new perspective of it.

The thing I noticed about the film is that it’s a visually good movie. The set’s look fantastic and you feel like your in a different world. I’m a sucker for ancient Egyptian architecture so I had a blast looking at the sets. When the team arrives under the pyramid, the way that the sun shines on the sets makes the area look beautiful. Ra’s pyramid also is fantastic to look at. It has this futuristic look to it blended in with ancient Egyptian architecture. The ruins where the teams goes into to find clues was fun to see as well as it had an Indiana Jones type feel to them. You can tell this was a high budgeted feature and a lot of time was spent on set building.

Another production feature that stands out is the special effects. For 1994 early CGI standards it holds up pretty well. You could tell that Emmerich had a vision for this film and it shows. It feels like he wanted the special effects to be the main feature of the film. It blends and flows well even watching it in 2019 and that’s saying something while most films of that time era may not hold up as much as others.

What brings Stargate down though is the script. While it’s not awful it doesn’t really gives us anything to be mesmerized by. We don’t really get much of a story as it’s a team goes to a different planet and now what. What is the main mission? It feels like the script didn’t really have an answer to that and the film makers had to make it up as they went. It just feels empty. With that type of script we get some characterizations that are weak. I’m a big Kurt Russell fan and I do like him in this movie but, his character kind of lacks characterization. We get one thing about him and that’s pretty much it. James Spader was interesting and we get to know more about his character through the film. I just don’t really buy the romance with Mili Avital’s character because it seems forced.

Overall Stargate is a mixed bag of film making. It launched the career of Roland Emmerich and you can’t deny the impact that it made with all the spin offs and such. It’s a visually good film that lacks a proper script to tell a story and bring more fleshed out characters to really care about. It’s nostalgic for me so I will always have a soft spot for it. It’s a perfect movie for people that want to kill a couple og hours and watch something fun.

Verdict: Middle Ground

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