- Directed and Co-Written by Roland Emmerich
- October 28, 1994
An ancient artifact of unknown origin found in Egypt is a gateway that leads to a threat from the distant past.
For a little background, I somehow missed Stargate when it hit theaters back in the day. For some reason it never made it onto my radar. As I recall I only became aware of this film’s existence after it hit a local discount theater and near as I can recall it was packed for every showing. That piqued my interested and I quickly checked it out.
This was like nothing else I had encountered before. It has been said this movie is a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars and those people would be so very right. Aliens and archaeology. The plot also relies heavily on alternative history-specifically the ancient aliens (not the series) hypothesis.
What really makes Stargate stand out from so many other science-fiction films is that the individuals in this story are able to travel to another planet not in the distant future but in the present day through one of the better looking in more unique science-fiction props.
The stargate has to be by far one of my favorite science-fiction movie props ever. The stargate in the context of the film is an ancient circular device of alien origin that is used to travel between two points in the universe. It was apparently placed here by a creature from a dying world in order to transport slaves from Earth to a different planet. And this alien was responsible for the foundation of Egyptian culture.
Beyond cool visuals and a great story what gives this film a little staying power and at least maintains interest while watching is that are two central characters of Jack O’Neil and Dr. Daniel Jackson get character arcs. They aren’t just two-dimensional excuses to give the audience a reason to see special effects.
Col. Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell) is dealing with the loss of his son because of his own carelessness and struggling to come to terms with it. He starts out the story as suicidal (the reason he was picked for the mission) and by the end of the movie he finds the will to continue on living. He ends the film having learned to not give in to his grief.
James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson takes on perhaps the lightest role I have ever seen him in. This is as close to the chipper guy in a sweater at the Christmas party as he will ever get. Daniel Jackson is a washed-up archaeologist whose theories have made him a laughingstock of the academic community. He is recruited seemingly out of the blue by Dr. Catherine Langford (Viveca Lindfors) who was with her father in Giza in 1920 when the device was found.
Jackson has no place in this world but by the end of the film he’s found his place on a different world and found a family. In a rather short time he even forms a bond with O’Neil. It happens rather quietly but naturally.
A film like this needs a great villain and Ra (Jaye Davidson) is a great villain. Ra is evil for the sake of being evil. Normally for me that makes a weak story for me but since he’s presenting himself as a God and carries himself throughout as a God this doesn’t do any harm. An evil god being evil to be evil makes sense. Davidson’s Ra looks down on everything and believes he is superior. You can feel his disdain for these mere humans that upset his world and challenge him.
If you look closely, you can catch a few faces of varying familiarity. You can see a young Djimon Hounsou in a small role as one of Ra’s guards. He doesn’t do too much here but I enjoy him as a performer. We also get French Stewart as Lt. Louis Ferretti-a member of O’Neil’s team, Erick Avari as the leader of the tribe Kasuf, Alexis Cruz as Kasuf’s son Skaara, Mili Avital as Kasuf’s daughter and Daniel’s love interest Sha’uri, Richard Kind as Stargate researcher Dr. Gary Meyers, and Leon Rippy as Major General W. O. West who is the commanding officer of the Stargate facility.
The costuming of Ra’s men is just amazing. They look great. The appearance mixes Egyptian aesthetic with science-fiction elements. And those helmets still to this day are some of the coolest things I have ever seen. I would seriously love to have one for my very own. Sure, it would cost a fortune but it is so cool piece.
And the sets of the Wolf Creek facility to the slave village to Ra’s spaceship palace are just amazing. Ra’s spaceship palace is unique as it is a pyramid shaped space craft whose interior looks more like a palace than it does a spacecraft.
They take some older ideas and some newer ones and mix them up together in a bag and give us perhaps one of the most fun and original science-fiction films to come out in quite some time. And yes it does play like a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars. It starts out as an ancient mystery that must be solved and ends with an epic battle against an alien superpower on a distant planet.
The stargate is not some piece of alien space magic but there is enough thought and explanation on how it works to give it a veneer of plausibility. When something is so significant to the story that is a must otherwise the story is started on a very shaky foundation.
Stargate has all the elements I could possibly like in one film yet quite nearly passed me bye. It is great action and cool concepts and the two main characters are well-crafted with a very big threat that they are able to rise to and defeat. Plus it is pure adrenaline fueled fun from beginning to end. It’s a roller coaster ride of action and excitement.
Stargate is a great piece of science fiction and I dare say should be considered a classic. It is entertaining and exciting and has so much to offer and manages to be as good the 50th time as it was the first. I cannot recommend this enough!