Review: Stargate

stargate_cov.jpgYear: 1994
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Mili Avital
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 81

A group of soldiers and a scholar make an interstellar trip through an ancient Egyptian Stargate.

Quick Review

Stargate is a tight science-fiction drama with an entertaining blend of adventure and action. The top-notch story sticks to its premise, the acting is convincing enough, and the construction is sharp and detailed. A film well worth watching.

Full Review

Stargate tells the story of a marginalized Egyptian scholar (James Spader) and a small group of soldiers led by Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell) as they make an interstellar trip to another planet via an ancient Stargate. Once there, they make contact with the local civilization. From that point the plot spills forward in collage of Egyptian mythology, sci-fi gadgetry, and cultural stargate_2.jpgexploration. There is a lot to like in this hybrid adventure/action film.

A lot of adventure movies whitewash the details and bury or ignore any inconvenient elements of the premise in a headlong rush through their story. What makes Stargate such a joy to watch is that it takes the time to embellish the details and respect its premise. A perfect example of this is how the film handles the linguistic challenges faced by the space travelers and the local population. Many movies would plow on with little regard to any sort of cultural variety, but Stargate highlights the cultural confusion and the bumbling attempts to communicate. Eventually Stargate leaves this behind with a few forgivable plot contrivances, but on the whole the attention to cultural detail ends up enriching the movie and strengthening its premise. Rarely does a film do this so well.

A big part of the film’s effectiveness comes from its rich, varied, and well told story. Editing is top notch. Scenes mesh cleanly and rarely drag. Everything serves a purpose. For a two-hour film, there is a lot going on, yet Stargate manages to keep the stargate_6.jpgstory flowing nicely. The characters of the story are cliche, for sure, but they are generally interesting enough. In particular, the local community on the foreign planet is richly depicted. On the weaker side, the US soldiers are flat as characters, and Jack O’Neil is a half-developed character whose subplot fades away. The arch villain in the film (Jaye Davidson) is uninspiring but passable in his role. As an aside, his evil white glowing eyes trick—complete with ominous sound effect—made me laugh every time.

A decent supporting script and good acting enhance Stargate. Neither the script nor the acting is particularly memorable, but stargate_4.jpgthe script does its job, and the acting convinces. Both Kurt Russell and James Spader perform effectively in their roles. They get solid support, in particular from Erick Avari, the chief of the local tribe, and Alexis Cruz, who plays the chief’s son.

But this is an action movie blog! What about the action, you say! Well, the first half of the film is light on action, but the turmoil picks up during the back half of the film. There are battles against aircraft, close quarters combat in ancient temples, and hand-to-hand fighting. However, there is nothing particularly creative in Stargate to set its action apart from other films. On the good side, the action for the most part serves to advance the story, although I did struggle with a couple of scenes that drag on a touch too long. Visual effects are good considering they are fourteen years old. Even with that in mind, Stargate comes up a tad short in this area. There are too many close ups of random lasers firing, and random shots of bombs exploding in the desert. All in all, the film ends up as standard fare with regards to action.

Lastly, let’s take a look at babes and hunks ratings. Mili Avital plays James Spader’s love interest in the film. She sure is pretty, stargate_3_avital.jpgbut her role is minor, and they smother her in heavy robes for most of the film. Shame shame. From the hunk side, James Spader has boyish good looks, but that’s about it. Kurt Russell is on the back end of his attractiveness, and several of the soldiers are fair. Raye Davidson had some strange androgynous vibe going on that didn’t work for me.

To wrap up, Stargate is a tight science-fiction drama with an entertaining blend of adventure and action. The top-notch story sticks to its premise, the acting is convincing enough, and the construction is sharp and detailed. These elements greatly overwhelm the generic aspects of the film’s action sequences and the stereotypical characters. Stargate is a film well worth watching.

Fun Fact
Stargate was the first movie to have an official website.

Pace: 73
Plot: 83
Action: 63
Consistent Premise: 88
Script/Quotes: 70
Characters: 82
Acting: 83
Villain: 68
Body Count: 47
Time to First Dead Body: 1 hour, 25 minutes, 32 seconds
Babes: 54
Hunks: 73
Explosions: 47
Special Effects: 67
Stunts: 27
Ending: 87

Overall: 81

[tags]Stargate, Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Mili Avital, Roland Emmerich, action movie review[/tags]

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