Oh look. It’s a movie from my least favorite duo; Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. I know that at some point, I should let go of my hatred towards them (I mean, it has been almost 20 years), but I think I am going to keep holding onto it until they redeem themselves for Fraudzilla. Now before that travesty, the two had actually made a decent name for themselves in the sci-fi realm and had a number of box office hits (yes, I know that THAT movie was also a box office hit). Today’s movie was not the first time the two paired up but it is an early collaboration and one that I did not see in theaters. I ended up getting it on DVD years ago when I was bored one day so let’s see how this impule purchase holds up as I watch Stargate.
The plot: In 8000 B.C. Egypt, a bright light appears in the night sky above a small village and massive winds begin blowing away their tents and supplies. Most of the villagers run in terror but one man approaches the light to see a pyramid-shaped structure just as a ball of light flies from the top and strikes him. In 1928, archaeologist Professor Langford, along with his young daughter Catherine, is at a dig site in Giza when his foreman shows him a large cover stones that form a circle, which seem to fit inside a large disk they found close by. As they lift the disk up, they discover a strange fossil had been buried underneath it. In 1994, Dr. Daniel Jackson, an Egyptologist and linguist, is approached by an elderly Catherine for help in translating some artifacts, as she knows he is poor and has been evicted from his home, but Jackson doesn’t like the secretive nature of the assignment and refuses at first but reluctantly agrees to go. When Jackson arrives at converted Air Force bunker in Colorado, where he is introduced to Dr. Gary Meyers and Dr. Barbara Shore, who Catherine had also recruited to help her with the artifact. As Jackson examines cornerstones and the hieroglyph that are written on them, he corrects Meyer’s initial translation and says they refer to something called a “Stargate”. When he asks why the Air Force is concerned with it, Colonel Jonathan “Jack” O’Neil, who had been reassigned to manage and provide security for the installation, tells him that the matter is classified. After two weeks of studying them, Jackson realizes that hieroglyphs actually refer to star clusters and constellations and during a meeting, explains that the symbols are used by the Stargate to travel from one planet to another. Meyers doesn’t believe Jackson, saying that they haven’t located the 7th symbol that Jackson says is necessary for travel, and General West, the man in charge of the project, tells them to show Jackson the Stargate. When Jackson locates the missing symbol, they activate the Stargate, which opens a wormhole and they send a probe through to find out where it leads. The probe heads to a planet in another galaxy, sending back data that the air is breathable as well as images of a Stargate on that planet but the symbols don’t match the ones on their Stargate. West says that they might have to scrap their plan to send a recon team through the wormhole but Jackson says he can translate them and, despite O’Neil’s reluctance, West orders Jackson placed on the team. Catherine gives Jackson an amulet that she had found when her father discovered the Stargate and he joins O’Neil and his team as they make their way through the wormhole. Arriving on the distant planet, the team find themselves inside a pyramid and walk outside to find themselves in a desert environment. O’Neil orders Jackson to start translating the Stargate while they work on setting up a base camp but Jackson tells him that he can translate the symbols but without knowing the order that they need to go in, he won’t be able to send them home. Jackson says they need to look around for a tablet or something that would have the symbols on it but the other soldiers get upset that they are stuck on the alien world. O’Neil heads back inside the temple and begins setting up a nuclear device, which they brought as a means of last resort to destroy the Stargate so that nothing can get back to Earth if they fail. Meanwhile, some of the other soldiers yell at Jackson and throw his gear down a sand dune and as Jackson goes to pick it up, he notices tracks leading across the sand. Following the tracks, Jackson discovers a strange creature that appears to be domesticated, as it has a harness attached to it. When O’Neil and two other soldiers, Brown and Kawalsky, arrive to check on Jackson, the creature gets startled and starts running away, with Jackson being dragged behind it as his feet had gotten tangled in the rope harness. O’Neil, Brown, and Kawalsky follow after him and eventually catch up to the creature only to discover a settlement, with people mining some strange material. Jackson, O’Neil, and the others approach the settlement and when Jackson goes forward to try and speak with them, one of the men notices the amulet and cries out, causing everyone to suddenly bow to the strangers. O’Neil has one young boy stand up and attempts to shake his hand but the boy runs off and gets the settlement’s chieftain, Kasuf, who greets them and offers them some water. Jackson offers Kasuf a candy bar in return and says they have a chance in finding what he needs to activate the Stargate in their city so O’Neil radios the base camp to secure the site while they are lead towards the city. Inside one of the buildings, Kasuf shows them a disk with the symbol of Ra, the Egyptian Sun God, and Jackson says they people believe the 4 of them are emissaries of Ra that were sent to them. When an alarm sounds and the people bar the gate, O’Neil, Brown, and Kawalsky make their way to the gate and fire warning shots at the people when they try to stop them from opening it but the boy, Skaara, motions for O’Neil to follow him and shows that a sand storm is approaching and O’Neil and the soldiers apologize. During dinner, Jackson attempts to speak with Kasuf and tries drawing out the symbols but Kasuf quickly erases the symbol, causing Jackson to theorize that writing is forbidden to them, and them hastily drags Jackson away. Jackson is taken to a tent and cleaned before Kasuf’s daughter Sha’uri is presented to him as a gift. Jackson stops her from disrobing and starts to leave but, not wanting to insult Kasuf, stays in the tent and begins talking with her. When Sha’uri indicates she has seen the symbols before, Jackson takes her hand and asks that she show him where. Meanwhile, the other soldiers head inside the pyramid in order to take refuge from the storm when the alien spaceship lands on top of the pyramid, merging with it. The soldiers attempt to defend themselves but they are quickly captured or killed by the aliens. Back in the city, O’Neil starts to befriend Skaara, who reminds him of his son, who died years ago. When O’Neil asks Skaara and some other children about where Jackson is, Skaara uses Jackson’s scarf to allow one of their animals to track him. They find Jackson and Sha’uri inside a temple, and Jackson explains to them that the people’s dialect is Ancient Egyptian, and tells them how Ra had come from an alien planet to escape dying and ended up taking over the body of the boy who had approached their ship in Ancient Egypt. Ra then became ruler of the land and began transporting people to the alien planet to mine the minerals needed for their weapons and technology. However, a rebellion occurred back on Earth so Ra forbade the people on the planet from being able to learn how to read or write. Jackson discovers a slab that shows 6 of the symbols needed to operate the Stargate on this planet but the last symbol is too faded for him to make out. O’Neil decides they should head back to the temple but when they get there, they see no sign of the other soldiers. When they head inside, Brown is killed Kawalsky is captured by the aliens, as Skaara watches from a window, and O’Neil has Jackson follow him down to the Stargate, as he wants to arm the bomb but finds it missing. The two are captured and taken aboard the ship and brought before Ra, who accuses them of wanting to destroy him. When the guards remove their armor, O’Neil attacks one of them and grabs his weapon, killing a second guard but when Jackson tries to get them to stop fighting, he is killed and O’Neil is knocked unconscious and dropped into a dungeon cell, where he finds the rest of his captured men. Outside the pyramid, Skaara and some of the other children are going through the supplies from O’Neil’s camp but take cover when they see two craft fly away from the pyramid towards their city. The two craft begin firing at the city, killing many of the people inside and when Skaara returns, Sha’uri says Ra is punishing them and Kasuf says they shouldn’t have helped the strangers. Back on the ship, Jackson finds himself brought back to life and is brought to Ra’s chamber, where Ra speaks with him. Ra tells him he plans on sending the nuke, made even more powerful by mixing it with the elements from the planet, back through the Stargate so that he can wipe out Earth’s civilization. Ra then offers Jackson a chance to live by executing his teammates but if he refuses, then he can join them in death, as Ra wants to show his slaves that he is the only person they should worship. Back in the city, Sha’uri is in the temple when Skaara and some others tell her that Ra has summoned the city to witness an execution and Sha’uri tells them they have to stop it, explaining what Jackson told her about their history. When the people arrive at the pyramid. They see O’Neil and three of his soldiers lined up as Ra approaches and sits in his throne. Jackson appears and is handed a weapon, then motioned towards O’Neil and the others but as he approaches them, Skaara signals him and shows that he has one of their weapons with him. Jackson turns the weapon on Ra and blasts the throne area, while Skaara and the other kids begin firing the weapons in the air, creating a diversion that allows Jackson, O’Neil, Kawalsky, and the others to escape. They head towards some caves and O’Neil angrily grabs some of the weapons from the kids and Jackson accuses him of not telling his men the truth about his mission and the bomb. The next day, Jackson sees Skaara drawing a symbol for their victory and realizes it is the last symbol and says he can get them home. When one of Ra’s guards shows up at the mine to get the people to work harder, O’Neil kills him, which upsets Kasuf until Jackson removes the armor to show him that his gods are just normal people. Disguising themselves as part of the caravan, O’Neil, Jackson, and the other soldiers join Skaara, Sha’uri, and their friends in approaching the pyramid and begin attacking the guards. Jackson, Sha’uri, and O’Neil head down to the Stargate, where Ra’s guards had taken the bomb for deployment, but Sha’uri is killed by one of the guards and O’Neil activates the bomb, telling Jackson he has 7 minutes to activate the gate and get himself and the rest of his men back to Earth. Outside, two flying craft begin attacking the rest of the soldiers and Ra orders his head guard to send the bomb to Earth. Seeing the teleporter activating, Jackson grabs Sha’uri’s body and jumps onto the platform, telling O’Neil to wait for him, and he teleports onto the ship while Ra’s guard arrives in the pyramid and begins attacking O’Neil. Onboard the ship, Jackson activates the regeneration chamber and uses it on Sha’uri, then heads back to the portal but Ra sees him and attacks him. Back in the pyramid, O’Neil manages to overpower the guard and activates the teleporter, sending the guards head back to Ra’s ship while inadvertently rescuing Jackson and Sha’uri at the same time. Outside, Kawalsky and the others run out of ammo and are forced to surrender but as the two guards approach them on foot to finish them off, Kasuf and the rest of the tribe appears and attacks the guards, killing them. Seeing his men are defeated, Ra decides to leave the planet but Jackson and O’Neil, realizing they can’t turn off the bomb, use the teleporter to send it onto Ra’s ship, causing it to explode in outer space. Seeing the explosion, everyone cheers as Jackson, Sha’uri, and O’Neil emerge from the pyramid and later, Jackson activates the Stargate to send O’Neil and the others back to Earth but he chooses to stay behind with Sha’uri.
Stargate met with mixed reactions from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that over-abundance of special effects in the movie was to try and make up for the weak plot. The early pre-release screenings were disastrous and the executive producer realized the main problem was that the plot made no sense so he had Ra’s dialogue subtitled and made it so it presented a clearer story line, which helped later test audiences. The movie was a box office hit, earning $196.6 million off of a $55 million budget, and spawned 3 TV spin offs.
Long and boring. That’s about the best way to describe this movie. The acting was ok, but James Spader (Jackson) and Kurt Russell (O’Neil) both seemed completely uninspired in their performances. Alexis Cruz (Skaara), Mili Avital (Sha’uri), and Erick Avari (Kasuf) were much better with their performances, while I was kind of indifferent towards Jaye Davidson (Ra). The story was really weak, and felt like it was stretched out even thinner in order to fill the length of the movie. The special effects were pretty good but I honestly thought that they would have been better considering the money spent on the movie. I remember there being a lot of hype surrounding this movie when it came out in theaters but I honestly can’t see it being worth it but it’s worth a watch, at the very least if you want to see what the TV show was based on.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5