Review of 'Stargate'

stargate.jpg When I first watched the Stargate film I remembered feeling it was not all that good. Watching it again I still feel the same way.

In 1928 a strange device is found in Egypt – a giant ring with symbols along the circumference. Moving forward to the modern day we see linguist Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) shunned by his peers for his outrageous theories regarding Egyptian history. He is approached by Catherine Langford (Viveca Lindfors) who quickly enlists his help investigating the cover stones then, ultimately, the ring or “stargate” itself. Jackson provides the breakthrough they need to activate the device – a portal to a distant galaxy. Accompanied by Colonel Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil (Kurt Russell), still troubled by the death of his son, a team is sent through the stargate to arrive in an Egypt-like world where the people are kept as slaves by the mysterious “Ra”. The team's arrival leads the people to think this is not really the best way to live…queue massive action scenes.

I think the reason I find it difficult to get into this film is simply that it is all about spectacle with the characters wooden at best. It seems to have no heart. Having said that, the premise is amazing (leading to a several television series running for many years) and the effects and action scenes are quite good (allowing for the fact the film was made in 1994, that is, with limited computer graphic wizardry). As an audience we are expected to make some pretty amazing leaps of faith which seem, perhaps, a few too many: Jackson learning to speak perfect ancient Egyptian pretty much overnight (despite managing only “hi” to the people when they first arrive), the speed at which the stargate is activated (with the “amazing” insights provided by Jackson in the course of days – things the team have not found in many years of investigating), the tracking of people across the galaxy, etc, etc.

As far as stereotypes go, Russell does a good job as action/flawed hero, and Spader as the comedic relief/mover of the plot. Jaye Davidson as Ra is sufficiently creepy as the bad guy with a look in his eyes that still sends chills down the spine.

It could have been so much more but here Hollywood chose to treat viewers as the mindless masses, losing any heart and sole this film could have had. Reasonable action flick though…

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2019-05-12

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Studio: Canal+

Year: 1994

Length: 130 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Roland Emmerich: