I can’t really explain this phenomena, but it’s also kind of tough to explain Stargate. Part science-fiction, part historical epic, part romance, part action, Stargate offers a mixed bag of treats, and perhaps only now, fifteen years later does it underwhelm due to its relatively modest budget (in today’s standards) and the release of much more massive sci-fi epics like Transformers and the new Terminator: Salvation. And yet, none of those films are able to cross genres like this one, and being adaptations of previous works, their narratives don’t possess even a fraction of the creativity of this film. Where today's summer popcorn flicks emphasize impressive action and breakthroughs in flashy displays of new FX technology, Stargate is a more patient film that relies on the uniquity of its storyline (but still throws in some nifty action to boot).
The odd combo of nerdy, soft-spoken scientist James Spader and brooding bad-ass soldier Kurt Russell (who sports a gnarly flat-top) make for a nice tag team with some light comedic beats. Genderly-challenged Jaye Davidson (he/she of The Crying Game infamy) has little to do as the villain, Ra, but is plenty menacing when wearing that gnarly headpiece, which brings to mind another strength of this film, and one that really comes through in the special features- production values. While the Digital FX work is nothing to write home about, sets are absolutely massive and majestic, and costume design is extremely intricate and often striking. In an epic film like this, these elements are absolutely crucial.
As for shortcomings, this is afterall a Roland Emmerich joint, so the acting won’t win any Oscars, and there’s little in the way of emotional depth, which is a problem since there are large gaps of time without any action. The ending definitely has that Patriotic raised-fist Emmerich signature moment, but at the end of this ride, you’ll likely be hooting and hollering too.
Stargate: History Made (22:30) - A fairly standard but well-made 3 part documentary. The first part tells the story of how the film came to fruition, the second part is a decent making-of, and the third details the legacy the film has left behind.
Master of the Stargate: Interactive Trivia Challenge - Two different trivia-style games for up to 4 players, where you watch the movie and answer trivia questions (that aren’t necessarily tied into the film) along the way. For Sci-Fi and history buffs mainly.
Is There a Stargate? (12:11) - A “what if” type featurette where a few kooky alien enthusiasts try to provide evidence that the great pyramids may really have been built by aliens- makes a decent case too.
The Making of Stargate (23:33) - This is sort of an expanded version of the second portion of the “History Made” featurette, except this one was clearly made back in the 90s. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and that’s a sad thing. A very candid and interesting making-of, not to be missed if you’re a Stargate fan.
Gag Reel (3:15) - This is one of the coolest, weirdest, most intricate little featurettes I’ve ever seen. This is NOT a gag reel, it’s a rad reel. I have no idea what’s going on, but I don’t care. This crew had fun, and apparently, a lot of spare time on their hands. I want to watch a featurette on the making of THIS.
You also get the film’s Theatrical Trailer and a few other Lionsgate previews.