Lately, I’ve been binge watching “Stargate SG-1,” the television series. Since I have liked the show so far (I’m in the middle of the sixth season), I thought it was time to go back to the beginning and watch the movie properly.
I know at some point that I tried to watch this movie; I remembered the beginning, but after that, and after watching the movie altogether, I can see why it was not particularly memorable.
We open in 1920s Egypt; some archaeologists, including the young daughter of one of them, have found something incredible, a metal ring that’s made of material not found on Earth.
Fast forward to the present day, and we meet one Daniel Jackson (James Spader), an archaeologist with some crazy ideas about Earth’s history. His ideas are so wacky that he’s the whipping boy of his field, , until Catherine Langford (Viveca Lindfors), the little girl all grown up, gives him a chance to prove his theories correct by helping the Air Force figure out how to make that mysterious Egyptian artifact, called a Stargate, work.
The other important character in the story is Col. Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell); after his son’s death (the boy accidently shot himself with Jack’s gun), he’s reassigned to oversee the Stargate program and access the threat to Earth. Once Daniel gets the gate up and running, Jack leads his military team across the galaxy just to see what they find.
What they find are humans who were kidnapped from Earth many years ago and brought to this planet to be slaves to an alien, Ra (Jaye Davidson). The Earthlings have some fun times and some misunderstandings with the locals, and everything’s going well, until Ra decides to come visiting, and all Hell breaks loose.
That’s a lot of plot, and the denseness of the story does the movie no real favors. I liked the two main characters, mainly because I know what they become on the show, but the rest of cast is little more than cannon fodder and stock types that really don’t connect with the audience. There is just too much story and not enough time for any in-depth characterization, and while Ra is a powerful enemy, he’s rather bland and not remotely scary.
Granted, some of this my problem; it’s not the movie’s fault that the television show killed all suspense, and I know that it’s not fair to compare a movie to a television show because the show has an overwhelming advantage in the fight.
But I’m going to do it anyway.
I’ll give the movie credit for setting up a good franchise, and placing all the right pieces for the things to come, but this outing is a sub-par pilot at best. The television show is far from perfect, but a lot more enjoyable.
Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Starring: Kurt Russell (Col. Jack O’Neil)
James Spader (Daniel Jackson)
Jaye Davidson (Ra)