After discovering a mysterious artifact in 1928, an Egyptologist named Dr. Daniel Jackson(James Spader) figures out how to work it in modern day, creating a gate to another world; the US Air Force then goes through the gate and discovers life on the far side of the galaxy.
Directed by Roland Emmerich (ID4: Independence Day, 2012), Stargate is the film that launched the successful TV series of the same name. While the concept lends itself very well to a TV series, the film itself is a lackluster science fiction film that offers nothing new or original. While I didn’t hate the film, I also didn’t like it that much. In other words, nothing has changed in the roughly 20 years since I originally saw it. It is a bland piece of science fiction that was much better served as the TV franchise it eventually became.
In 1928, a massive metal ring engraved with hieroglyphics is discovered in Eqypt. In modern day, an Egyptologist who believes that aliens helped with creating the pyramids is called in the the US Air Force to decipher what is said on the ring. He deciphers the hieroglyphics and they discover that the ring is actually a portal to another planet. Dr. Jackson joins an Air Force team led by Colonel Jack O’ Neil (Kurt Russell) in crossing through the ring, ending up at the other end of the universe. There, they discover an Egyptian-like culture under the yoke of Ra (Jaye Davidson), a powerful alien who appears as human and passes himself off as a god. Colonel O’Neil and Dr. Jackson then attempt to free the slaves from the clutches of Ra.
Despite the awesome that is Kurt Russell, this film just cannot manage to lift itself out of the ‘meh’ category. In all honesty, Russell looks like he is bored with the proceedings and just kind of meanders through the bland story. While his role calls for him to be detached, he comes off as nothing more than bored and cruising through for the paycheck.
James Spader tends to be a blight in almost any film he is in. I have yet to see a film role where he actually helps the film. While I have no personal grudge against the man, I have yet to be impressed by anything he has been in, and this film is no exception. Watching his performance here makes me question Joss Whedon’s casting of him in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. While I can tell he is trying, his acting ability leaves something to be desired, and as such, pulls the entire film down.
While Roland Emmerich has never been known for his subtlety, here you can tell that he is trying to tell a story that matters, at least to him. Unfortunately, it is an over long, boring slog through deserts with nary a break in the dusty browns of blowing and drifting sand. It is a visually boring narrative that demands perseverance to even stay awake through to the end credits.
I saw Stargate in the theaters when it was originally released. It took me almost 20 years to rewatch it. While I didn’t hate the film upon it’s original release, I found that the film was boring and uninspired. 20 years after that initial viewing, I find my opinion hasn’t changed much. It is a boring slog of uninspired science fiction that at least inspired a superior TV franchise. You would do well to avoid this film and spare yourself the questions of why it actually inspired a decent sci-fi TV franchise.
*1/2 out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Production budget estimated at $55m.
- Lifetime domestic gross: $71,567,262.
- This was the first film to ever have a website.
- Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game) disliked all the attention he received from that film. He demanded $1m to do this film, what was considered an unreasonable amount. He was paid the money and he appeared in the film. He quit acting after this film.