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Stargate, I’m sure that pretty much all of you have heard of it, and most of you have probably seen it. I first watched Stargate on it’s first UK TV showing on the BBC about 5 or so years ago. I found it overall to be a pretty stimulating experience, with state of the art special effects, and plenty of action ... though you can take that for granted with Roland Emmerich at the helm, the director of hits such as Independence Day and The Patriot. Will this be yet another nostalgic disappointment, or will this 1994 hit truly live up to my original high opinions ... with Momentum’s new release of the film, it wouldn’t be long before I found out...

"Mummy...is the washing machine meant to do that??"
Movie
The film starts off with the discovery of an interstellar teleportation device in Egypt by a team of archaeologists in 1928. Decades later, this transportation device or Stargate is now in the possession of the military, who consider the device a threat. They believe that whatever lies on the other side of the mysterious Stargate could, potentially threaten mankind's existence on Earth (Aren't we lucky to have the Americans). Because of this threat, they recruit eccentric Egyptologist Dr Daniel Jackson (played by James Spader) to help decipher the Stargate's code and bring it back to working order. Naturally, it isn’t long until he does. As the gateway cranks up, a military team led by Colonel O'Neil (Kurt Russell) enters on a mission of discovery ... though it isn’t long before it turns into a battle of survival.

This film really is a tough one to call. Firstly, I would never recommend anybody to revisit films that they really enjoyed as children, mainly because the chances are that the film is in actual fact ... crap, or at least disappointing. Stargate is by no means bad, it is simply just not as good as I had originally remembered. Surprisingly though, the special effects on the whole are still of a pretty high standard, the Stargate coming to life still made me go "wow" after all this time! What the film does seem to lack now though ... is ... well ... fun. Many films in the early 90s could get away with poor storylines, simply because of their special effect "wow" factor. Now though, things are quite different, as practically every film has fancy effects, and as such we all expect a little more for our money.

The main problem with the film is that it tries to take itself far too seriously for its own good, definitely a mistake when the plot is so poor. The basic premise is infact a reasonably good one, the writers had plenty to work with ... mysterious gate ... strange aliens ... not exactly original, though they could have taken a much darker, mysterious approach. Unfortunately the filmmakers adopted the clichéd route, which becomes the usual predictable affair, with a meaningless romance tacked on for good measure. I say meaningless, as the characters are all so underdeveloped that you really don’t care what happens to them. This poor development also applies to the aliens ... or ... sun gods. If the writers had created a little more background surrounding the aliens, then perhaps they could have been scary. Unfortunately, as they didn't, they are nothing more than men with silly hats on, who enslave races purely for a cheap thrill. The writers try to justify their actions by producing a very one dimensional story regarding the leader nicking a few people to use as hosts. That doesn't explain how hundreds of other people are working for him though, or infact where they come from!

Perhaps I am expecting too much from this film. If I could class Stargate as an action film, then perhaps I would let if off in regard to several of the points I have made. However, the film certainly doesn’t overdose on action, and likewise, it certainly doesn’t overdose on character development. All in all, Stargate could have achieved classic status, unfortunately due to sloppy writing ... Stargate is just 'another' sci-fi film, albeit one with above average special effects.

"I really should'nt have had that extra whisky...."
Video
I have to admit; I was incredibly surprised with the picture quality on this anamorphic transfer. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and has to be one of the best transfers that I have seen! Although the film isn’t exactly old, I really expected to see at least the odd discrepancy, however the picture maintained a crisp image throughout. I noticed absolutely no picture break-up or damage, and the colours truly looked impressive, particularly during the desert sequences. Well done Momentum.

Sound
Stargate boasts a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack as well as a DTS track, and for the most part it performs admirably. The theme tune for the film certainly gets the windows shaking when you crank up the volume! What I did notice however, was the slight lack of depth in some of the action sequences, and the rear speakers aren’t really given the kind of workout that I would expect from a film of this nature. I don’t mean to be overly negative; it is still a good soundtrack, though it didn’t give me the same impression as the actual transfer did.

Extras
Stargate: Director’s Cut, isn’t exactly feature packed, as you might expect. The main feature on the disc without a doubt is the feature length commentary by co-writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer/producer Dean Devlin. This is a pretty informative commentary, with plenty of interesting information being fed throughout the feature ... it’s quite apparent through listening that they aren’t too fond of the TV series!

"Na...you aint gonna scare anyone dressed like that"
Next up, you have the traditional supplement of the theatrical trailer, which is presented in widescreen like the feature presentation. Accompanying that, you get a Promotional Reel, which runs to just over 10minutes. This feature is basically a glimpse at some of the key moments of the film, no doubt intended for distribution to the press on the film's original theatrical release. Nothing too interesting though I’m afraid, and I wouldn’t recommend watching it before you have seen the film.

Finally, completing Stargates extra’s is a photo gallery compromising a selection of ‘almost fullscreen’ images from the film, and also some behind the scenes photos with the cast and crew.

Overall
Overall, Stargate is certainly a reasonably good sci-fi flick, providing you don’t watch it with high expectations. Back in the early 90’s this film really stood proud, with great effects, which still look alright today ... however, the special effects are pretty much the only thing that keeps this film alive to this day. Despite the solid acting from the cast, the storyline doesn’t really take the film to the level that it should have achieved, and all in all it’s a pretty wasted effort. DVD wise, Stargate is also a bit of a letdown with pretty limited features, though the commentary just about saves it. What Stargate: Directors Cut really needed was an in-depth feature on the making of the film, however that was not to be. If you’re a fan of the film, by all means pick this up, though don’t get too excited regarding the ‘Director’s Cut’ nature of the release, as it doesn’t really add much new material at all.


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