Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Stargate

directed by Roland Emmerich

Stargate poster  
The ancient Egyptians had style, at least according to the movie version of events. Stargate takes that ostentatious look and puts it in space in this high-gloss science fiction adventure. When the military discovers an ancient circular device covered in arcane symbols they bring in Dr Daniel Jackson (James Spader) to figure out what it means.

Before long Jackson has worked out that the device is a stargate. It creates wormholes that allow people to travel between galaxies almost instantaneously. An intrepid team of people willing to walk through the gate is soon formed, without a great deal of concern about how they are going to find a safe route back. Of course, it helps that the man leading that team is Col. Jack O'Neil (Kurt Russel). Thanks to the death of his son O'Neil has virtually no will to live, so he's perfect for this risky mission.

On the other side the team find a desert and a civilisation of humans who live in slavery. It's like ancient Egypt, under the yoke of highly advanced evil alien overlords. If someone made a list of all of the most stunning movies of the 20th century, and boiled them down to their constituent parts, that would go some way towards describing the style of Stargate. There's a little Star Wars, some Indiana Jones, Cleopatra, and even some of the costumes from Flash Gordon in the mix. Yet the fact that this is a derivative patchwork of styles and genres doesn't make this movie any less enjoyable.

James Spader is engaging as the mild-mannered academic who blunders into all kinds of trouble. Jaye Davidson manages to come across as arrogant and creepy whilst looking like a baby-faced cross between Ming the Merciless and a drag queen. Meanwhile Kurt Russel makes up for all the effeminacy with his portrayal of O'Neil, although the character he plays is as stock a hard man as they come.

This film may be formulaic nonsense, but it's exhilarating and pretty nonsense with good production values and a stirring score.

Film Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Films

  Kids     Science fiction

Classification: PG

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Roland Emmerich