Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

STARGATE

Directed by Roland Emmerich (1994, Artisan Entertainment)
Starring Kurt Russel, James Spader and Jaye Davidson

An Egyptian artefact brings a team to an alien planet, where they battle Ra, the sun god.

 

 

5 stars

January 9th, 2010 on DVD, for the 4th time  
    I really like this movie, and I think it was a great way to introduce such a device. I have been watching Stargate SG1, Atlantis and Universe now for a while, and although I had trouble with the series at first, I understand why they had to change things from the movie to make it practical over the long term.

In the movie, I enjoyed O'Neil's continual reassessment of what needs to be done, and the fun he has at Skaara when the boy tries to emulate him. He has a cruel streak, letting Skaara start to smoke, but gets over-protective when Skaara wants to hold the gun -because of his son, of course.

By the end of the movie, everyone has come to respect everyone else, and we get to wonder what kind of relations the humans from Earth will have with those from Abydos. The novels that followed the movie went in a completely different direction from the TV show. Although I liked the way the novels started out, by the end, they were terrible. The TV show, on the other hand, started out poor (to me, anyway), and got better.

 

 

5 stars

March 8th, 2003 on DVD, for the 3rd time  
    The production of this movie was the most beautiful thing about it. It was gritty and it felt real. This is especially important because it is such a fictional situation, such a far-out idea. It's truly superb.

Daniel Jackson is played for laughs much of the time, especially with his sneezing, which disappears by the end of the film. But he really gets the last laugh, as he gets the girl, and to stay behind. He also gets congratulated by the whole Stargate team at the end. He also gets to have fun re-translating the inscriptions on the cover-stones of the Stargate. I definitely laughed at the indignant looks from the other translators!

Colonel O'Neil's back-story doesn't really add much to the film. However, I suppose having his son die while playing with his father's gun makes him more suicidal, more likely to actually detonate the bomb if necessary. It also allows him to take an actual liking to Skaara, who idolizes the man.

The most impressive part of the movie takes place on Abydos, from both production and character points of view. It really shows when the film-makers go the extra distance to create realistic sets. Never mind obvious and grand computer-generated sets like in Attack of the Clones -these miniatures, like the "bigatures" of The Fellowship of the Ring, are simply impressive, and feel well-worn. The city of Nagada was terrifically realized. I actually felt like I was transported to an Egyptian city.

The other way the production gave a realistic feel was in the untranslated dialog, and there was a lot of that. The incomprehension of both sides, the Abydans and the Stargate team was obvious; however, because they were both human, they could communicate by gestures, which was amazing. The lines that were subtitled were only necessary to explain the story from the point of view of the Abydans.

Once Ra arrives, this movie goes from an adventure to an action film. Ra is a tyrant, and he does not take well to a visit from the people who rebelled against him 8000 years ago. He must have thought they would die out, though, or else why not sent a ship against humanity? Regardless, everything about him was amazing, especially the headgear. The effects that allowed the masks to retract was amazing -this is how CG should really be used! The weapons that his Horus-guards used, not to mention their udajeets (fliers) were also amazing, really cool.

There were definitely some weaknesses in the plot, but the concept, the acting, especially by the natives, and the realism make up for that. The most blatant example for me was the astronomy. First, there is no way they could track the probe into deep space like that. I had to laugh at that, really. Second, the constellations do not look the same now as they did 10000 years ago. They cannot be used as guideposts over millennia because they are constantly changing. Orion would definitely not be drawn that way. In fact, Orion would not exist, since he is a figure from Greek mythology. What would the Egyptians be doing using Greek constellations, most of which I believe were not even created at that time. Ah, well...

The special features on this DVD were a little odd. The one on the Director's Cut disk is more of an occult show, from the point of view of people who believe things like the pyramids and other artifacts are proof of alien visitation. He makes a convincing argument, for uneducated viewers. On the Theatrical Cut disk is a making-of documentary, which is more glitz than behind-the-scenes. The narrator's voice was very annoying, making it sound like an ad for a heavy metal rock-concert. Still, what we were shown (too briefly for my tastes) was intriguing, especially the miniature models -more like bigatures. The theatrical trailer was very impressive, as it showed a lot of the movie, but in a mixed-up way. Scenes at the beginning of the trailer showed stuff from the end of the movie, but not obvious until the movie has been seen. It was all mixed up, which gives a great sense of the unexpected, especially in the actors' reactions to different events.

Seeing this movie in this way kindled an interest in trying out Stargate SG-1 again. I watched the premiere of the TV series years ago, and laughed my way through it, because I thought it was so bad. It also contradicted what was, at that time, a promising set of novels. The novels turned bad and mediocre, and were eventually abandoned by the publisher, and I hear that SG-1 is actually an interesting show. I might be too late to get into it, but there must be reruns showing somewhere.

In any case, the movie was a gritty and awesome, realistic-feeling science fiction film that is not opera-style. It really does feel epic, and O'Neil's last words to Daniel, "see you around", indicate that the story does indeed have some sort of continuation after the credits roll.
 

 

4 stars

December 30th, 1998 on Video, for the 2nd time  
    This is a true science fiction movie.  It had a mystery, action, not too much bloodshed, and tragic but believable characters.  However, the movie just barely touched on the book.  The actors did a good job of portraying their thoughts, however, where they would take a page or two in the book.  Recommend to every SF fan!  
   

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