STARRING: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Viveca Lindfors, Jaye Davidson, Alexis Cruz, Mili Aveital, Leon Rippy, John Diehl, Carlos Lauchu, Djimon, Erick Avari, French Stewart, Gianin Loffler, Cecil Hoffman, Raw Allen, Richard Kind

1994, 119 Minutes, Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Description: Hit movie about the discovery of an ancient portal capable of zipping travelers to "the other side of the known universe." James Spader plays the Egyptologist who successfully translates the Stargate's hieroglyphic code, and then joins a hawkish military unit (led by Kurt Russell) on a reconnaissance mission to see what's on the other side. They arrive on a desert world with cultural (and apparently supernatural) ties to Earth's ancient Egypt, where the sun god Ra (played by Jaye Davidson from The Crying Game) rules a population of slaves with armored minions and startlingly advanced technology. After being warmly welcomed into the slave camp, the earthlings encourage and support a rebellion, and while Russell threatens to blow up the Stargate to prevent its use by enemy forces.

The unexpected box office takings of this sleeper sci-fi hit no doubt gave other sci-fi projects the green light and so 1995 saw more than the usual number of SF flicks. For that alone it must be thanked by special effects aficionados. Post-Stargate sci-fi movies seem to offer little else - witness the team behind this film, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's next effort: Independence Day . . .

The plot? A mixture between Erich von Daniken, Dune and Aliens as a marine platoon enters a mysterious dimensional portal activated thanks to the ingenuity of an Egyptologist (James Spader) to find a desert planet ruled by an advanced and vicious alien who uses humans as his slaves. Of course, this idea is laughable: how a high-tech production process would demand unskilled human labor!

Action follows á la Dune gigantic battle scenes in the desert. The effects are well-done and both Spader and Kurt Russell (as the tough-as-nails platoon leader) give likeable performances.

However, this remains a matinee movie for the kids and little else. Actually this rather derivative film made me long for other movies: the opening shot with the "stargate" being discovered in Egypt made me want to see Raiders of the Lost Ark again: the film from which the scene was no doubt stolen . . .

No sequels were made, but it did spawn a TV series titled Stargate SG1 which proved to be quite popular with SF fans.



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