WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Prof. Daniel Jackson (Spader) helps uncover the secret to an ancient portal known as the stargate. Once opened, he, Colonel Jack O’Neil (Russell) and six other soldiers decide to travel through the stargate to see what’s up in another civilization at a different time in a different universe. Needless to say...the shit hits the fan.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Let me start off by saying that after STARGATE’s success, director Roland Emmerich prostituted himself to Hollywood and followed it up by directing INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA. I mention this because unlike those two travesties, STARGATE is an intelligent sci-fi movie, with good acting, believable special effects and an engaging storyline. It also has another great quality those two bombs don’t have: it doesn’t star rapper Will Smith or thespian Matthew Broderick. Who they cast instead as a beret wearing, pessimistic, grouchy ex-retiree soldier is Kurt Russell, who at this point can play that character in his sleep…and play it well he does! To balance him off, we have the bookworm, allergic scientist who’s played brilliantly by underrated actor James Spader. If that wasn’t enough (and this is the performance that blew my socks off) we get the she-male from THE CRYING GAME (Jaye Davidson) playing an Egyptian king/alien/badass/sun God to perfection. This creepy character also keeps you involved in the goings-on when the script starts turning to pudding near the end. It’s a damn shame Jaye disappeared off the face of the earth after this movie…or maybe he accidentally went into the Starg- Naaaah!
As with any movie in an ancient land with deserts from ear to ear, the score also has a nice sweeping "epic" feel to it and gives this sci-fi/action movie some legitimacy. As I mentioned before, the special effects are top of the line here, unlike the blue screens used in INDEPENDENCE DAY or the green puppet in GODZILLA. This time around, you hardly notice them. Unfortunately, this movie isn’t perfect and the one thing I was disappointed in was the quality of the script which deteriorated as the film went on. But what did you expect...Dean Devlin was half-responsible for penning it. This compelling and unique sci-fier starts turning into cheese and that’s when the cornball sentimentality and screwy gunplay come into the fold. No, bad Dean, bad boy! I guess this clown couldn’t resist. It's cool though because the first half of the picture makes up for the somewhat silly and cliché-ridden finale. How could I end off without mentioning the gorgeous Mili Avital playing Spader’s love interest, this cutie-pie is worth your rental dollars alone, guys. Don’t worry ladies, Mr. Russell has another one of his five dollar haircuts in this one for you to enjoy as well. Go Kurt!
The Ultimate Edition is a 2-disc set. On the first disc, you’ll see Roland’s cut of the film, with extra scenes sprinkled around as well as an audio commentary by writer/producer Devlin and director Emmerich. I found their dialogue very interesting and insightful. There aren’t any long pauses and Roland has a cool German accent. There is also a 12-minute featurette called Is There a Stargate? This includes an interview with Erich von Daniken, author of "Chariots of the Gods” who believes that alien races did in fact visit earth eons ago and are responsible for many of the wonders of our world, such as the pyramids. The man brings up solid points to back it up and considering this relates with the subject matter of the film, it’s really quite fascinating. I’m a pretty naïve person and it didn’t take me long to go along with everything this man said. Check this feature out!
Disc two presents the theatrical version of the film (no commentaries). They also showcase the international and theatrical trailers of Stargate, ho-hum. Decent cast & crew files are also available, which include mini-biographies of quite a few of the actors and the crew, as well as their filmographies. Another featurette entitled: The Making of Stargate: Creating a Whole New World (~23 min.) will mostly dazzle you with interviews with the folks in charge of the effects, design and production of the film. There is plenty of behind-the-scenes footage here as well and many “how we did that” tidbits to keep you awake. It wasn’t too long and I actually found it mildly educational. Finally, you get some production notes, this is a 19 page (or screen) saga you’ll have to click through. It has many interesting and informative facts about the making of STARGATE, but my guess is that if you wanted to read...you’d be at the library with a copy of Oliver Twist rather than watching a crazy sci-fi adventure movie. An Avital or Spader interview would’ve made me happier, but you get none of that on this “Ultimate Edition”.
If you’re tired of Schwarzenegger’s insulting sci-fi fare and bored with light sabers, hobbits and Pluto Nash, then drop by your local video store real soon and rent STARGATE because it’ll keep your mind going for more than 10 seconds, it’s got the babes (Avital) and the buff (Russell) to keep your pants awake and most importantly, it won’t make you feel like a complete jackass after having watched it. Even you sci-fi nerds will drool over some of the extras in this 2-disc set. Guess what, the filmmakers actually tried making a smart, entertaining escapist movie here. What an original idea. Flex Kurt, flex…you buff bastard!