Dir: Roland Emmerich
Star: James Spader, Kurt Russell, Jaye Davidson
Cert / Year: 15 - PG-13 / 1994
Format: DVD R2

Taken from a lecture he was giving about ancient Egyptian languages Dr. Daniel Jackson ( James Spader) is transported to a top secret US government installation set within an abandoned nuclear missile bunker deep inside a mountain. His job is translate some 10,000 year old hieroglyphics carved into a set of ancient Egyptian cover stones. Toiling for several weeks on translating the markings, Jackson stumbles across the translation and makes his findings known to an assembled group of military personnel. Only to discover that the translation he has provided is the key to activate a huge metallic ring which was found buried near to the great pyramid at Giza in Egypt on an archeological expedition in 1928. The "Stargate" as it is referred to in the hieroglyphs was buried 10,000 years ago and was protected by the cover stones upon which Daniel has been working. Once Daniels "code" is sent to the gate it explodes into life and activates a door to the other side of the galaxy. The military send a team under the command of Colonel Jack O'Neill ( Kurt Russell) through the gate to investigate the strange new world but as they will need someone to re-open the gate on the other side Daniel is reluctantly accepted onto the team.

The first of the Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich collaborations under the "Centropolis" banner Stargate is possibly the most original and the best. Before the outrageous "flag waving" fest that was Independence Day or the highly stylized but seriously lacking remake/retelling of Godzilla these guys could make a good and original film. Both Devlin and Emmerich wrote the story, directed it and produced it and provide a stunning film which exploits the more adventurous of the theories by certain Egyptologists as to the origin of the pyramids. The direction by Emmerich is on the whole quite fantastic, superbly arranged and beautifully photographed. Grand and extravagant set pieces are complimented by some fine cinematography and stunning special effects. The remarkable backdrop of Yuma, Arizona is great and Emmerich uses it to good effect. The clever use of light is evident throughout and the emergence of the team on the "new" planet through the gate is ingeniously well thought out.

A fine and talented cast provide excellent performances headed by Kurt Russell who shines in the role of O'Neill. Russell excels in physical acting and can say more with a glance than with a few words, this is a great performance by him and one of my favourites. The character interaction between O'Neill and Jackson is brilliant and the opposing depth and motivation of their characters is a good balance within the story. As they learn to accept each other in their predicament, they begin to warm to each other and begin to understand and respect the others point of view. James Spader also provides one of his best performances and seems quite at ease with the role of the intellectual "Dweeb". Another actor who is adept with the physical aspect of the art, Spader also shines in his role and despite the occasional humour courtesy of allergies remains an intense and believable professor.

The strange and effeminate Jaye Davidson provides a reasonible performance as Ra but as his role didn't particuarly involve much acting except for strutting around pretentiously in flowing robes it was hardly a great test. It would appear that he plays up on the role he did for the vomit inducing Crying Game and has allowed it to flow into the other work that he has done but basically he is an acting non-entity. An impressive if not restrictive performance by Israeli actress Mili Avital as Sha'uri in her first Hollywood role. Yes that is a brief cameo at the beginning of the movie by John Rhys-Davies being typecast as an Egyptian digger thanks no doubt to his portrayal of Sallah in the Indiana Jones movies.

A dramatic music score by David Arnold adds a little more depth and weight to the movie. Not that it particuarly needs it as the film is subtle and three dimensional, more than adequately fleshing out a good script and story. Although some of the CGI does look a little dated now it remains quite impressive and combined with the special effects supervised by ever capable Jeffrey Okun it is still an impressive and superb film and just as entertaining and mind blowing today. Judging by what came later it might be an idea for Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to watch this movie again in order to remind themselves what they can accomplish as they seem to have lost their way somewhat.


Give my regards to King Tut!

Rating: 4 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Good but occasionally grainy
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS Stunning
Features Informative and interesting commentary track by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin
Nicely animated Menus
Small Photo Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Stargate - Promotion reel
Depending which box you opt for you may end up with a quirky pyramid shaped container, which although may be collectable does make storing the case difficult.
Verdict Occasional inconsistencies in the picture quality throughout the film is a little frustrating but it does sound fantastic and comes with a couple of good extras. But for my money the pyramid box isn't one of them.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home