Face-Off: Stargate vs. The Fifth Element

In our previous Face-Off, JAWS beat out ALIEN for the title of best 1970's monster-in-the-house horror classic. Most of you agreed with the verdict, and kudos to user choochgas for pointing out just how instrumental JAWS was in bringing the summer blockbuster to life, which I failed to point out in my article.

This week, with sci-fi colossus INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE right around the corner, and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE recently exploring ancient Egyptian themes, it seemed like a good time to look at two movies which check both those boxes. Both STARGATE and THE FIFTH ELEMENT made an impact on 1990's culture and left their mark on the science fiction genre, but which is the better film overall? Let's find out!
Kurt Russell does what he does best as Colonel Jack O'Neil, a stoic, steel-eyed soldier with a dark past, but James Spader steals the show as Dr. Daniel Jackson, the awkward linguist with all the answers. Both actors nail their roles and play off each other nicely, with Russell coming out of his shell in the finale for some classic Kurt Russell moments.
Like Russell, Bruce Willis gives us a pretty standard performance (which actually helps ground a relatively outrageous film), while Milla Jovovich brings fifth element and perfect being Leeloo to life, complete with sympathy, wonder, and grace. The love story here may feel a little convenient, but Willis and Jovovich help it feel genuine.
Jaye Davidson may be just about the prettiest man alive, but his Ra is fairly one note, with the character spending too much time smirking evilly as things transpire in the distance.
Gary f*cking Oldman. Especially with the recent loss of Alan Rickman, there are few actors out there who can play a villain as beautifully as Oldman, who chews the scenery as Zorg in the best way possible.
Viveca Lindfors as Catherine Langford
Alexis Cruz as Skaara
Mili Avital as Sha'uri
Erick Avari as Kasuf
Leon Rippy as General W.O. West
John Diehl as Lieutenant Kawalsky
Carlos Lauchu as Anubis
Djimon Hounsou as Horus
Ian Holm as Father Vito Cornelius
Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod
Brion James as General Munro
Tiny Lister as President Lindberg
Lee Evans as Fog
Charlie Creed-Miles as David
Tricky as Right Arm
Luke Perry as Billy
When a stargate to a distant planet is discovered, soldiers and a scientist travel through to discover an ancient civilization ruled by a being claiming to be the sun god Ra.
As the universe is threatened by an evil race in 23rd century, a newly awakened supreme being seeks the help of a priest and a soldier-turned-New-York-cab-driver.
"I'm on Planet X looking for a dweeb who wears green fatigues."

"How ya doin'? Hmm?"

"I don't want to die. And your men don't want to die, and these people certainly don't wan to to die. It's a shame you're in such a hurry to."

"I'm here in case you succeed."

"I smell like a yak!"

"There can be only one Ra."

"We should not have helped the strangers."

"I don't want to die. And your men don't want to die, and these people certainly don't want to die. It's a shame you're in such a hurry to."

"Give my regards to King Tut, asshole."

"I'll be seeing you around... Doctor Jackson."
"Aziz, light!"

"Are you... German?"


"Leeloo Dallas multi pass!"

"What's wrong with you? What you screamin' for? Every 5 minutes there's somethin', a bomb or somethin'. I'm leavin'. Bzzzz!"

"Korben! Korben! Korben, my man!"


"Anybody else wanna negotiate?"

"Me fifth element - supreme being. Me protect you."

"What's the use in saving life when you see what you do with it?"
When he's not just trying to see how many things he can blow up in the time allotted to him, Roland Emmerich can actually be a pretty solid director. STARGATE tends to drag a bit, but the trade off is a fairly consistent, balanced, and believable film.
Luc Besson brought his A game to 1990's cinema (unfortunately without much success since). THE FIFTH ELEMENT is absolutely a fun film with some brilliant production design, but the whole thing can get a bit too uneven and over-the-top.
STARGATE has had an impressively long tail for a one-off movie, spawning three television shows (with two film sequels for SG-1), an animated series, games, literature, a dedicated fan base, and talk of a reimagined film series. Granted, SG-1 is more responsible for most of this than STARGATE itself, but that doesn't change the fact that the movie started it all.
Other than a couple poorly received video games, a novelization, and a very popular costume among female cosplayers, THE FIFTH ELEMENT hasn't cast much of a shadow. I'm sure it continues to widen its audience to some extent, but it doesn't seem to be a film sought out by many who weren't in their teens or twenties upon its release.
Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (Audience Score: 73%)
Metacritic: 42 (User Score: 7.8)
Domestic Total Gross: $71,567,262
IMDB: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 71% (Audience Score: 87%)
Metacritic: 52 (User Score: 8.9)
Domestic Total Gross: $63,820,180
I know there are a lot of STARGATE fans out there, myself included, and THE FIFTH ELEMENT is considered somewhat of an acquired taste, but Besson's film is just more fun and a bit more memorable. STARGATE has certainly left quite an impression on the sci-fi landscape, though, so I'm not trying to diminish it in the least. I'm very curious to hear what you think down below, as this one could be more divisive than usual, and for more Roland Emmerich alien fare, be sure to check out INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE on June 24th!

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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