Stargate (1994) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 2h10
Release 6.1.1994
Director Roland Emmerich
About Dr Daniel Jackson is asked to decode an old hieroglyph in a military facility by a mysterious woman. He discovers important information about the device, which was found during an expedition in Egypt.
Moon: three full moons seen upon arriving at the planet
Where to Watch: MGM subscription on Amazon Prime

The Good

  • The music for this film, this franchise, is incredible and now so iconic. It works in every moment of the film and it is made all the more impressive when you know that this was the composers first major project.
  • The characterisation of Daniel Jackson is perfect. The great mind, zero social skills, bumbling chaos is a wonderful thing to see on screen. While Michael Shanks goes on to make the role his own in the TV incarnation, James Spader gives this academic , somewhat out of his depth, man such a endearing and comedic charm.
  • Much in the same way, the Jack O’Neill presented here by Kurt Russell is very different to the one Richard Dean Anderson gives us. Russell is able to bring a weight to the character that lends itself to the pivotal relationship with the teens on the planet they discover.
    Similarities can be made to Russell’s previous characters, including MacReady in The Thing and Snake Plissken in Escape From New York however, O’Neill is a character to develops into these action hero types. His main role on the mission becomes clear once he’s no longer haunted by the past. It is the character’s complex background that allows the audience to engage and empathise with him.
  • The best thing about this film is that it subverts the genre. It’s very much about exploring space, but without the spaceships and spacesuits. The team is military, they’re able to travel lightyears without actually developing the technology. It makes for an incredible change of pace and changes the expectations for Sci-fi. This is the birth of a franchise that rivals that of Star Trek and Star Wars. It’s an underdog franchise on the surface, but this is one of the strongest starts for a franchise.
  • The effects still stand up. The gate itself is incredible, but so is the CGI removal of the alien head dresses and the glowing eyes.

The Bad

  • The first half of the movie is rather a slow burn, and while I liked that about Stargate, I’m aware some viewers won’t. I personally see the value in understanding the project and the background of both O’Neill and Jackson. However, this could have all been done with a little more efficiency. Often the demographic of this type of genre are interested in the action set pieces and can do without the characterisation. The film lacks an action piece in the first 40 minutes or so and it’s perhaps why its not considered as much as other Sci-fi offerings.
  • French Stewart is a welcome addition to the team. Viewers will recognise him as Harry from Third Rock From the Sun. However, as much as I love seeing him on screen, he appears to be killed by Ra’s foot soldiers. That’s sad, but fine. Except he’s seemingly resurrected by the final act. In such a good film, this annoys me.

The Ugly

  • Damn it, I hate that ‘world in the corner of the screen’ image we get at the end of the film. Predator and The Thing do it too and it just feels cheap.

Final Thoughts

I will always love this film and this franchise. How can you not when it introduced you the man that is James Spader. (Although, in my defence, I had been watching him in Mannequin years before this. I just didn’t know *that* him.

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