Stargate (1994)

Let’s just stay in this universe and not fuck anything up. Thanks.

Prof. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) believes there is more to our humanity but yet, nobody will care to listen to him because they feel as if he is just another nut with a microphone, and a head that’s a bit too big for his britches. That said, somebody takes notice to this freak-o and makes him apart of a secret mission to uncover an ancient portal known as the Stargate. Along with a couple of soldiers, lead by Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell), they take a trip through this other dimension to see what’s shaking and baking and the answers they come up with are sure as hell not pretty.

We can all come to terms with the fact that Roland Emmerich isn’t the type of guy we can expect to see new-bread, highly-intellectual classics from, but at least we can expect one thing from him no matter what the story may be that he is tackling: fun, fun, and more fun. That’s all there is to it with Emmerich and even though Godzilla pissed almost everybody and their Chinese relatives off, and 2012 didn’t quite predict the future so well, at least the guy had fun with it, right? I’d say yes, but then again, I’m usually a sucker for these movies that don’t lose their enjoyment, no matter how stupid or idiotic they may actually get. This movie is the one where I drew the line with Emmerich and all of his stupidity that follows.

What I’m about to say is probably going to lose me a lot of street-cred but hey, so be it. The problem with this movie, right from the start, was that it was just so damn terribly boring, almost to the point of where I was actually contemplating turning it off, checking out another movie, and acting as if this one never came anywhere near me or my mind. I was very, very close to doing this but sadly, I stuck with it and it rarely ever got better for me. Emmerich tries his hardest by building up a story, showing us all the details, but also trying to leave some out for good fun, but it’s almost too much to where we don’t even feel like we know what the hell is going on at all.

Cool cut though.
Fresh cut though.

We get that these guys have to go to a different dimension, look for species, figure shit out, and take notes down, but that’s about it. Oh, and need I forget to tell you that Russell’s character has actually been given the direct order to bring a bomb with him and detonate it whenever he senses danger on this other universe. You know, a universe that may have human-beings alive on it and other materials that may be useful for the world we live in. Nope, just blow that shitty place up and act like it was all good in a hard day’s work. Because let’s face it, that’s what the military does, right?

That aspect of this movie seemed really stupid, but I was willing to drop my pants and my brain for a healthy-dosage of fun and entertainment, and I barely even got that. The first half of this movie is simply dedicated to these dudes running around this strange land, being acquainted with the natives, and trying to figure out what the hell is up with this land, even if there isn’t really anything wrong with it in the first place. This all plays out as if it was a shitty, low-budget remake of Dances with Wolves, but instead of having Navajo natives, they got these weird, slightly-colored people to speak total gibber and gabber, and consider that a “foreign language”. Seriously? That’s the best you could come up? Give me a damn break!

Don’t worry though, because it does get worse. As soon as the problems do actually show their faces, the movie still continues to make no sense as to why this person they have to face-off against is evil, why the hell he cares about these dudes showing up on their land, and just what does it all mean in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you could probably say that I was looking for a little bit too much in something that was just a typical, sci-fi yarn, but when a movie that is so focused and hell-bent on describing it’s ideas, plot, and exposition, I at least expect there to be some sort of reasonable explanation to it all. Not a whole lot, but just some, and this movie just never gave me that nor did it do anything to excite me. A couple of action scenes here and there fly by, but that’s about it and something felt like Emmerich just wanted to cut-loose, get crazy, and start blowing the shit out of random things like people, pyramids, and most of all, hairy monsters that are just there for show.

If there was any hope in this movie that it wouldn’t be the total shit-box I was expecting of it to be, it was at least that the cast could save the day, and apparently even that was asking way too much. James Spader is a very talented actor that can usually make any type of role work, but he just is so nerdy, so gullible, and so spazzy, that it gets to a point of where it’s annoying. I didn’t look at this guy in any other way, other than just by seeing him as the usual bookworm that thinks he’s way too smart, doesn’t know how to act in situations where the shit gets hot, and worst of all, doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Something tells me that a dude like James Spader doesn’t quite need help with the ladies but I guess Roland Emmerich saw something that I didn’t. Strange.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.
Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Thankfully, this is where Kurt Russell shows up to pick the slack up from here and shake things up, Snake Plisskenstyle. Okay, maybe his character here isn’t that awesome or cool for that matter, but it’s Kurt Russell being Kurt Russell, and for a movie and role like this: we really needed to see that come alive within the dude. Russell is constantly cool, a bit dangerous, a bit mysterious, but always bad-ass and shows that he can take even the shittiest-material, and make it his own little bitch. He seems like he really wants to get wild at some points, but he keeps it grounded and humane, just the way I like to see Russell play it. Although it doesn’t hurt to want to get up and start hacking people off left and right. Especially wouldn’t have hurt in this movie, anyway.

The strangest person in this cast, who still has me scratching my head as to whether or not he was actually good, or just plain and simply ridiculous was Jaye Davidson as the Egyptian king that wants this pretty place to himself, with nobody else’s grubby paws getting in the way. Davidson is the person most of you may now from the Crying Game (yeah, you know who the hell I’m talking about) and is fine here, but dresses so strange, looks so weird, and has this voice that’s a mixture between Barry White and Satan, that it just didn’t do a single thing for me and had me laugh at him the whole entire time. It seemed as if Davidson just got back from a drag-queen show every time he showed up on set and decided to now waste the time getting ready to suit-up, and kept the clothes he had on originally. Does it work? Yeah, maybe in a campy-way, but this movie isn’t campy enough and is always so self-serious that this villain, this performance, and this look that Davidson carries on throughout the whole movie just seems idiotic and totally out-of-place. Still have no idea why the hell this dude jumped off the face of the Earth after this movie hit, but who knows. Maybe he got stuck in another universe after all!

Consensus: Sci-fi junkies will probably eat this shit for breakfast, spit it right back out, and chew it up again for fun, but for a person who just wants a good story, realistic characters, and a bunch of fun and action, Stargate doesn’t even fill me up after the appetizers. It feels as if it wants to be a goofy, over-the-top movie but plays it so serious and so dramatic, that it never gets off the ground. It just stays there and sinks into the sand.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Trust me, it's a dude. I think...
Trust me, it’s a dude. I think…


  1. I’d like to talk about what exactly made no sense in this movie. The reason Kurt was told to detonate a bomb was because this was the first time humans traveled to another inhabited planet. We had absolutely no idea what the hell we’d find, and if what we found would come back and wipe out the Earth, it would be a pretty good idea to blow up the Stargate before that was allowed to happen. As for the main villain, again, I think the motivations are pretty apparent. He propped himself up as a god to these people, and he’s been exploiting them for thousands (?…hundreds? I forget) of years. When the humans enter the picture, they threaten his convenient setup, so he wants to eliminate them. Where’s the logical misstep there? I agree that Emmerich’s output is mainly stupid garbage, but I think Stargate is his last bastion of sanity. He lost his way after Independence Day, for sure, but you’re honestly the first person I’ve come across who doesn’t like this flick. I absolutely think your opinion is valid, but I just have a lot of trouble understanding where you’re coming from. I think this movie kicks ass for the most part, and that’s coming from a Roland Emmerich hater.

    • I remember liking this movie – but I also remember that was the last time I made out in a movie theater – so perhaps my memory is skewed with thoughts of – well, you know.

      • Not a bad memory. For me, Stargate toes the line between serious and ridiculous just enough. Like, there’s Kurt’s character having to deal with the death of his son and how he finds something to live for as the movie goes along. At the same time, it’s totally re-writing Egyptian history with aliens and shit. Great balance, and I wish Emmerich could recapture whatever he had going for himself in the ’90s.

    • For me, it was just a bore that rarely ever made sense for me. Next time, if I even ever bother with watching it, I’ll take your points into consideration, but I don’t know when that time will be.

      • Maybe do some kind of Emmeric marathon, lol. I don’t know how long you’d last, though. It might actually kill you. I’m not that brave.

  2. there are films that can actually give sense to another perspective in terms of widening horizons. Although, some of them have failed to bring the audience into their seeming propaganda juxtaposed with action, drama and even comedy but just like you I bring the fun into it as much as I can but only to understand after that there are underlying subliminals that really gives a huge impact to everyone and we’re not talking about science fiction anymore 🙂

    Nice read Dan.

  3. Been so long since I’ve seen this one. I remember liking it well enough, but i might have to revisit some of it and remind myself of another reason I don’t like Emmerich. He’s gonna fuck up White House Down, I just know it. . . . . grrrrr….

    Good review, though! 🙂

  4. I love the TV adaptation of this movie, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. I remember liking it, but that was a long while back and before I even saw the show. I know they’re really different, and this one lacks the tongue-in-cheek approach. I don’t think you’ll get too much flak for ripping apart Stargate, as even its big fans usually recognize that the plot is pretty dumb. They just enjoy the spectacle. That’s usually all there is with Emmerich.

  5. This is one of my favorite sci-fi films from the 90’s, mainly because I really enjoy Kurt Russell. Will have to watch it again after this review.

  6. Stargate is a boring insult to sci-fi. If you want some really good science fiction movies check out Moon or Blade Runner. Nice review Dan.

  7. I saw this a very long time ago but I do remember I didn’t enjoy it when I watched it. I also agree about Davidson. Think it was a brave choice but he didnt really work at all in this film. Good review.

  8. I remember reading the movie adaptation and owning the toys years before I finally sat down to watch the movie. Most of the acessories were simply repurposed G.I. Joe accessories and the big yak thing served as my Bantha until Kenner released the POTF2 version.

  9. As a sci-fi fan I think Stargate has an entertaining premise and is a fun ride, but I could see how others might be bored by it. You’re right that Spader’s character is an annoying spaz and the idea to have Russell’s character blow up the other world does seem a bit illogical, although I don’t recall having a problem with it when I saw it oh so long ago. I’m not a big fan of Emmerich either, yet I consider this movie low on his list of offenses. I think this might just be another movie we’ll have to agree to disagree on Dan haha.

  10. I can’t find a flaw in your critique, Dan. Having said that (L.D. FTW), “Stargate” is one of those quirky sci-fi films I love just for trying. The many television spin-offs never did much for me, for many of the same reasons sited here, but this initial feature is a guilty pleasure I happily own up to.

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