"Stargate" is, obviously, the movie that later spawned the hit "Stargate SG-1" TV series, and its spinoffs.
But taken on its own merits, "Stargate" is a pretty entertaining blockbuster with some big flaws. It uncomfortably straddles the fence between "shoot-em-up bombs'n'action" and "mythology sci-fi," but provides a solid villain, some sketchy writing, and the foundation for a hit TV show. Well, it's definitely far better than your average sci-fi blockbuster.
Egyptologist Daniel Jackson (James Spader) has just lost his job, when a mysterious old lady invites him to become involved in a secret military project. Soon he finds out why -- a massive stone ring found in Giza decades ago, with strange symbols on a central ring. When they use his calculations, the Air Force is able to open a wormhole to a distant galaxy.
Obviously a recon team is sent through, led by the grieving Colonel O'Neil (Kurt Russell). This new world is a desert planet, inhabited by a race of primitive human slaves who practically worship the strangers. But things turn deadly when a pyramid ship descends on the desert, and a malevolent "god" decides to obliterate Earth -- using a nuclear bomb O'Neil brought along.
It's a pretty straightforward action plot -- scientist opens gateway to new planet, bad guy shows up and makes trouble, good guys attack bad guy with the help of plucky natives. "Stargate" doesn't add much to the typical formula, but it does dress it up with gilded robes, giant stone statues, glittering starships and sandswept deserts.
In fact, spectacle is what "Stargate" excels at -- it has big armies of invading, big ships, big pyramids, and big battles with Ra's warriors. When it comes to gun battles and explosions, Roland Emmerich does a pretty decent job. However, he gets mesmerized by the gilded interior of Ra's starship and the prettyboy alien slinking around -- the middle part of the movie is very slow-moving.
It's more clumsy at the intimate stuff of character development, such as Daniel's serious romance with a chief's daughter, or O'Neil's depression over his son. It just never feels natural or deep. The accompanying dialogue is usually pretty solid, but sometimes gets downright clumsy ("I don't want to die. Your men don't want to die. These people don't want to die. It's a shame you're in such a hurry to").
Spade pretty much steals the show as a lovable geek who sticks to his guns, even if it makes him a laughingstock. And the geek gets the girl, not the military grunts -- a nice change. Russell is stuck with a rather stiff, humourless military man, although he loosens up in the last lap. And Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital and Erick Avari all get kudos for making the lovable, deep characters come alive without a word of English.
"Stargate" is a fun movie for the spectacle and slam-bang action scenes, so long as the weak scripting doesn't hold you up. And it served as a good foundation for one of the best "exploration" sci-fi series in ages.
STARGATE: THE MOVIE  [Ultimate Edition] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] It Will Take You A Million Light Years From Home! But Will It Bring You Back!
Relive the stunning original with the new dimension in Picture and Sound. The Original Epic Movie from director Roland Emmerich of ‘2012’ and ‘Independent Day,’ that spawned a galaxy of fans, and ‘STARGATE: THE MOVIE’ remains a thrilling adventure through space and time that is not to be missed.
Now for the first time, see and hear the film like never before with multiple versions for the film presented in 1080p High Definition and all new 7.1 DTS-HD HR Master Audio and go beyond the gate with special features that capture how ‘STARGATE: THE MOVIE’ unlocked a massive franchise universe and became a must-see modern sci-fi classic. Go beyond The Gate with 4 hours of Extra content. NEW seamless branching of the Theatrical and Unrated Extended Cuts of the film.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film: Won: STARGATE. Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Costume for Joseph A. Porro. Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Special Effects for Jeffrey A. Okun and Patrick Tatopoulos. BMI Film & Television Awards: Nominated: BMI Film Music Award for David Arnold. Fantasporto: Nominated: International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film for Roland Emmerich. Germany's Golden Screen Awards: Won: Golden Screen for STARGATE. Hugo Awards: Nominated: Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation for STARGATE. The Director's cut had several scenes which were cut from the theatrical film version. The first such scene took place immediately after the excavation of the ‘STARGATE’ in 1928 and showed petrified Horus guards near the cover stones; the producers had tried to introduce the idea that beings had attempted to come through the ‘STARGATE’ after its burial, but they cut the scene for time concerns
Cast: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Viveca Lindfors, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital, Leon Rippy, John Diehl, Carlos Lauchu, Djimon Hounsou, Erick Avari, French Stewart, Gianin Loffler, Christopher John Fields, Derek Webster, Jack Moore, Steve Giannelli, David Pressman, Scott Alan Smith, Cecil Hoffman, Rae Allen, Richard Kind, George Gray, Kelly Vint, Erik Holland, Nick Wilder, Sayed Badreya, Michael Concepcion, Jerry Gilmore, Michel Jean-Philippe, Dialy N'Daiye, Gladys Holland, Roger Til, Kenneth Danziger, Christopher West, Kit West, Robert Ackerman, Kairon John, Dax Biagas and Frank Welker (Mastadge voice)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Producers: Dean Devlin, Joel B. Michaels, Mario Kassar, Oliver Eberle, Peter Winther, Ramsey Thomas and Ute Emmerich
Screenplay: Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
Composer: David Arnold
Cinematography: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 [Panavision]
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD HR Master Audio, German: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and French: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French and German
Running Time: 121 minutes [Theatrical Release] and 130 minutes [Director’s Cut]
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment / STUDIOCANAL
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘STARGATE’ is Roland Emmerich’s very entertaining sci-fi adventure, begins in 1928 at the foot of the Great Pyramids, where archaeologists have unearthed an enormous ring-shaped artefact covered with strange markings. Immediately the scene shifts to the present, where experts are still baffled by exactly what it is they’ve dug up. When a mysterious artefact is unearthed at Giza, tough-minded military man Colonel Jack O'Neill clashes with archaeologist Daniel Jackson over the origin and potential of the object. When Jackson identifies the object as a portal to another world, O'Neill leads him and a team through the ‘STARGATE.’ They are transported millions of light years from Earth where they are stranded on a strange and alien planet. When Ra, the enigmatic ruler of this extraordinary world, discovers that the doorway to Earth can be reopened, he devises a deadly plot. Racing against time, Army Col. Jack O'Neil [Kurt Russell] and Daniel Jackson [James Spader] must overcome Ra if they are to save Earth and find a way back home...
By this time the ring has been transported to an underground military site in the United States. In an act of desperation, the researchers bring in Daniel Jackson [James Spader], a brilliant Egyptologist who’s radical and some say insane theories have alienated him from the intellectual mainstream. In short order, Daniel Jackson determines that the ring is actually a sort of map of the heavens that, if properly calibrated, becomes a doorway for instant travel to the far reaches of the universe.
‘STARGATE’ which was written by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, holds our attention through a combination of suspense and funky wit. The latter is supplied primarily by James Spader and the truth about Daniel Jackson is that he’s a little daft, which makes him a great character for James Spader. Slowly but surely, James Spader is emerging as one of the most accomplished, watchable actors in the films. With his shaggy hair drooping over his brow, he plays Daniel Jackson as a bumbling egghead lost in his own thoughts.
‘STARGATE’  is a sci-fi film which follows the typical hero's journey style narrative. Here we follow Daniel Jackson as he is thrust into another world after he is brought on board a secret military operation to decipher symbols on a mysterious object that allows travel from one planet to another. When we first meet Jackson he's an outsider on the fringes of academia. His theories are debunked by every serious scientist and he's just about broke. He's approached by a mysterious group who want to employ his services as a translator of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. But what he unearths his far beyond his wildest theories.
Not only does James Spader’s comic spin carry us through the first half of the film, it also provides a neat counterpoint to the heavy seriousness of Kurt Russell, who is saddled with the thankless role of Col. Jack O’Neil, the military officer overseeing the project for the government. After Daniel Jackson has deciphered the symbols on the STARGATE, he joins a reconnaissance team that walks through it to the other side of the galaxy. The group, led by Army Col. Jack O'Neil [Kurt Russell], emerges in a desert environment similar to that of Egypt but peopled by a multitude of primitive slaves who mine a precious metal for their master, Ra.
Once on the other side of the STARGATE, O’Neil and his team discover that Daniel can’t get them back again. And while they remain stranded, the movie is too, even though the new planet provides some science fiction excitement. The effects conjured up by Peter Mitchell Rubin and Patrick Tatopoulos—including a wonderful lumbering creature that looks to be part elephant and part yak,are inventive, often even thrilling. And as the god Ra, Jaye Davidson is perfectly otherworldly especially when he’s angry, the whites of his eyes glow like headlights.
But with nowhere to go, Roland Emmerich treads water with a budding love affair between Daniel and a beautiful slave girl named Sha’uri [Mili Avital] and a trifling plot in which Ra attempts to send a bomb back through the gate to destroy the Earth. Though James Spader’s character dominates the first half of the film, he seems to get lost in the second and even when the character is on screen. By the end, the film’s early promise has pretty much degenerated into routine pyrotechnics.
It’s hard to say that Roland Emmerich’s directing is somehow better than subsequent previous work; in fact it may be just the same. I think the reason why ‘STARGATE’ has quality epic performance. The battle scenes in the sand are filled to the brim with total excitement; the special effects are creatively done and integrated quite well without shooting on green screen, worrying about everything around the actors later. All aspects of this film needed to be carefully thought out and orchestrated exactingly, allowing all performers something real to act against; Kurt Russell is perfect as the tough guy with a capacity for compassion and James Spader is full on neurotic eccentric, the odd leading man type he perfected in the 1990s. The rest of the cast consists of familiar faces like John Diehl, Leon Rippy, French Stewart trying way too hard to be badass, and an early Djimon Hounsou and effective parts from the foreigners in Alexis Cruz’s son-like Skaara and Mili Avital’s love interest Sha’uri. Even Jaye Davidson’s Ra, despite his youthful appearance, holds the kind of malicious ego necessary to fear him. Both Kurt Russell and James Spader are amiable enough as the mismatched explorers and the special effects are well up to scratch. Most importantly, there's a sense in which, while it may be ridiculously far-fetched, suspension of disbelief is just about possible as it swings along with a committed gusto rarely seen since the heyday of George Lucas.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘STARGATE’ finally received the high-definition upgrade fans deserve and has a stunning 1080p defined encoded image and an equally stunning 2.40:1 aspect ratio. First and foremost, the colouring problems that plagued the prior version have been corrected this time around, removing the "hot" skin tones, and artificial brightness boosting. On this version, we have a natural colour scheme that accurately reproduces the spectrum of the source material, creating a highly appealing experience. Rounding out the positives, black levels possess incredible depth despite the sun-drenched hues of the desert setting, and contrast offers excellent differentiation through the majority of scenes and only slipping occasionally during dark, indoor shots. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Not to be outdone by the visual upgrade, the audio experience on ‘STARGATE’ offers an equally impressive experience. The 7.1 DTS-HD HR Master Audio employs a robust sound design that contains a relentless mix of effects and music to create an epic feel. From the booming voices of Ra's bodyguards to the high-pitched wail of the futuristic planes soaring overhead, the audio mix is never bashful in making demands of every speaker throughout your room. There is totally excellent surround separation, lots of clarity and balance in the various elements of the track, the dominant portion of your subwoofer gives a much-needed workout through the multiple explosions, sandstorms and rumbling undertones of the musical score.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Director’s Commentary with Roland Emmerich [Writer/Director] and Dean Devlin [Writer/Producer] [Extended Cut only] This is the same commentary track as featured on a number of previous versions of the film, but it's the first time I've heard it. Surprisingly it's not actually a bad track, although there are quite a few extended periods of dead air. However, when Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin do talk, they provide a lot of pertinent information about the technical side of the project, along with plenty of cast and crew anecdotes. They are also very keen to point out that they had no involvement whatsoever with the STARGATE TV series!
Special Feature: STARGATE – History Made  [1080p] [2.40:1 / 1.85:1] [22:18] This feature is divided up into 3 category headings, that comprises of the following: Deciphering The Gate: Concepts & Casting; Opening The Gate: The Making of STARGATE and Passing The Gate: The Legacy. Contributing to this new special feature are the following: Roland Emmerich [Director/Writer]; Dean Devlin [Writer/Producer]; Mili Avital [Sha’uri]; Stuart Tyson Smith [Egyptological Consultant]; Eric Avari [Kasuf]; Patrick Tatopoulos [Creature Effects Supervisor] and Frank Gerney [Stargate Fan]. In this first section, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin recall developing the script together and securing financing from foreign sources after being turned down by every American studio, now doesn’t that sound typical and familiar? They also talk about their casting choices, some of which had to be pursued and Kurt Russell turned them down repeatedly. There are a few seconds of interesting footage of Jaye Davidson speaking the Egyptian dialogue in an undubbed voice that will sound truly odd to anyone used to hearing the electronically manipulated voice of Ra in the finished film. Roland Emmerich looks genuinely thrilled that people still tell him they like the film. And any true fan of the film should be able to guess what question Eric Avari is asked the most, which he kindly gives the answer as well.
Special Feature: The Making of STARGATE Documentary  [480i] [1.33:1] [52:00] This French made documentary, which was luckily filmed in English, was organised according to specific elements of the film, e.g., the STARGATE, the desert, the so-called “mastadge” creature the travellers encounter on the planet, the pyramid structure, etc., and how they were achieved. Perhaps the most entertaining participant is visual effects supervisor Jeffrey Okun, who seems to take an almost child-like delight in the things that go wrong. Contributing to this 2001 special are the following: Joel B. Michaels [Co-producer]; Kurt Russell [Actor]; Joseph Porro [Chief Costumier]; Roland Emmerich [Réalisteur and Co-scénariste]; Dean Devlin [Co-scénariste and Co-prolucteur]; James Spader [Actor]; Mili Avital [Actress]; Jeffrey Okun [Responsible des Effets Spéciaux Numériques]; Peter Mitchel Rubin [Graphiste and Storyboarder]; Patrick Talopoulos [En Charge de Créatures]; Andy Armstrong [Regleur des Casades]; Docteur Stuart Smith [Égyptologue]; Antoine Bonsorte [Responable des Bas-reliefs] and Peter Murton [Directur Artisque].
Special Feature: Is There A STARGATE?  [480i] [1.33:1] [12:10] With this feature we have Erich von Däniken [Author of Chariots of the Gods], with a brief overview of his theories. The documentary footage of various phenomena claimed by Erich von Däniken as evidence of prehistoric visits by extra-terrestrials is entertaining. Whether it convinces anyone is a different question. We also get a contribution from Giorgio Tsoukalos [Editor in Chief of Legendary Times]. Narrated by Gene Ross. It was an Artisan Home Entertainment presentation.
Special Feature: Original STARGATE Previews  [480i] [1.33:1] [17:18] You get to view 5 separate Preview Promotional vignettes. But sadly most of it is repeated information about the film STARGATE.
Special Feature: B-Roll footage  [480i] [1.33:1] [6:02] This is random piece of filming, especially views of behind-the-scenes of filming ‘STARGATE.’ There is no commentary, but in the background you get to hear the main theme music of ‘STARGATE.’
Special Feature: Never-Before-Seen Gag Reel  [480i] [1.33:1] [3:12] Shot in one long extended take that is supposedly entitled a “parody reel,” and who ever thought up this ludicrous title, should be sacked. Here you get to see a lot of not so funny choreographed idiots making a fool of themselves and sadly features appearances by Kurt Russell, Roland Emmerich, physical effects supervisor Kit West and dozens of other crew, and it parodies numerous familiar moments from STARGATE to the accompaniment of the all-too-familiar soundtrack. At the end of this rubbish, we get to see the wording COMING SOON TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU, well I hope not, as it is the most stupid idiotic thing I have seen in a very long time and it is not at all funny and complete was of celluloid film and again it is not at all funny.
Special Feature: Picture-in-Picture “STARGATE Ultimate Knowledge”  [1080p] [2.40:1] [130 minutes] Mario Kassar presents a Le Studio Canal + / Centropolis Film Production in Association with Carolco Pictures Inc. Exploiting the Blu-ray’s advanced capabilities, this feature allows the viewer to play the extended cut with a PIP at the lower right containing both interview and on-set footage. Much of the interview footage appears to date from the film’s production. Also, a substantial portion of the material is recycled from the documentaries and features provided as separate extras.
Theatrical Trailer  [1080i] [1.85:1] 2:38] This is the film’s Original Theatrical Trailerbut one thing I do not understand why they could not instead included the 2.40:1 aspect ratio Theatrical Trailer.
BD-Live: This Blu-ray Disc uses the Blu-ray format’s online function [BD-Live] to access additional dynamicHD content. Please make sure that your Blu-ray Player is connected to the Internet and latest player firmware is installed. It also asks you whether you would like to continue, with either Yes or No.
Finally, ‘STARGATE’ is one of those sci-fi films that I have watched first the inferior NTSC DVD and now this wonderful Blu-ray disc thatI care to admit, and it is up there at the top of my sci-fi favourites list, especially as I do enjoy its novel twist on the origins of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. Fans of the film may well be wondering why they should stump up for yet another video copy of this film, but if you want the best possible audio-visual presentation then there really is no alternative. Fans have waited a long time for a really good version of ‘STARGATE,’ but the wait is finally over. Will this be the last time the film gets released on disc? If you haven't seen ‘STARGATE,’ and you do not have a fleeting interest in science fiction, please give it a try and get this “Ultimate Edition” Blu-ray disc, as it is well worth purchasing and I am so glad it has been now been added to my Kurt Russell Collection. The only thing that really ages this sci-fi film is Kurt Russell's hair and the CGI effects which now look a little rough around the edges, but were cutting edge in their time; otherwise this is a totally timeless sci-fi classic. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
If you've ever seen "Stargate SG-1" or its spinoffs, then you're already familiar with the idea of a stargate -- a big stone ring that opens a wormhole to other planets.
But the concept started with "Stargate," the movie that first spawned the ideas that were later fleshed out into an epic TV show. And taken on its own merits, "Stargate" is a pretty entertaining blockbuster with some big flaws. It uncomfortably straddles the fence between "shoot-em-up bombs'n'action" and "mythology sci-fi," but provides a solid villain, some sketchy writing, and the foundation for a hit TV show. Well, it's definitely far better than your average sci-fi blockbuster.
Egyptologist Daniel Jackson (James Spader) has just lost his job due to his wacked-out, History Channel-style theories about ancient Egypt. Immediately afterwards, a mysterious old lady invites him to become involved in a secret Air Force project, which somehow involves examining some obscure hieroglyphs. When Daniel figures out what the signs are, the Air Force reluctantly shows him what he's working towards -- a massive stone ring found in Giza decades ago. When they apply his work to the computer controlling the stargate, the Air Force is able to open a wormhole to a distant galaxy.
A recon team is sent through as soon as possible, led by the grieving Colonel O'Neil (Kurt Russell) and including Daniel so he can (theoretically) get them back to Earth. This new world is a desert planet, inhabited by a race of primitive human slaves who practically worship the strangers. But things turn deadly when a pyramid ship descends on the desert, and a malevolent "god" decides to obliterate Earth -- using a nuclear bomb O'Neil brought along.
"Stargate" is not a terribly complicated story, especially compared to its spinoff material. It has a pretty straightforward action plot -- nerdy scientist opens gateway to distant planet, good guys go to distant planet, bad guy shows up and makes trouble, good guys attack bad guy with the help of plucky natives, one side wins. This movie admittedly doesn't add much to the typical formula, but it does dress it up with gilded robes, giant stone statues, glittering starships and sandswept deserts.
In fact, spectacle is what "Stargate" excels at -- it has big armies of invading, big ships, big pyramids, and big battles with Ra's warriors. When it comes to gun battles and explosions, Roland Emmerich does a pretty decent job. However, he gets mesmerized by the gilded interior of Ra's starship and the androgynous alien "god" slinking around in elaborate robes. The middle part of the movie is very slow-moving, and it stumbles somewhat at reconciling the guns-and-bombs action movie with the glittering mythological bent of the story.
The character development is a also rather clumsy, particularly when Emmerich strains to deal with serious topics like guilt and the death of a child ("I don't want to die. Your men don't want to die. These people don't want to die. It's a shame you're in such a hurry to"). Daniel's romance with a chief's daughter is rather charming, though, and the interactions with the people of Abydos are more interesting because nobody speaks the same language.
While Daniel is little more than the "standard nerd" here, Spader pretty much steals the show as the mild-mannered nerd who finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime. And the geek gets the alien princess, not the military grunts -- a nice change from the typical trope. Russell is stuck with a rather stiff, humourless military man, although he loosens up in the last lap and gets to show some wit and cleverness. And Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital and Erick Avari all get kudos for making the lovable, deep characters come alive without a word of English.
"Stargate" relies on spectacle and slam-bang action scenes to keep the audience amused, despite a rather thin plot and some equally thin character development. If nothing else, it was the springboard for one of the best sci-fi TV shows in existence.