Saturday Movie Review – “Stargate: Director’s Cut”

Note that there will be a change of plans for the forthcoming Saturday reviews. The next three weeks will be reviews of the three Terminator movies. A new schedule will be posted within the next week.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

James Spader as Daniel Jackson.

Kurt Russel as Jack O’Neil
Alexis Cruz as Skaara
Jaye Davidson as Ra
Mili Avital as Sha’uri
Erick Avari as Kasuf
French Stewart as Ferretti
John Diehl as Lieutenan Kawalsky

Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Complete information is available from the IMDB.

Buy from: Amazon.com

or Amazon.ca. That’s pretty darn cheap, too.

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

In 1928, technology beyond anything we’d be able to create today was found buried in Egypt. In 1994, the genius of Daniel Jackson allows the military to finally turn the thing on and travel to another world.

High Point

“I have an idea.”

Low Point

Constellations are terrible reference points. They should have at least mentioned something about how the reference must be a particular star within the constellation, but they don’t know which one. This still has a problem, though, in that most of the stars in the constellations found that long ago look bright because they’re really, really close, and there’s no way they could be sent to “the other end of the known galaxy” using them as guides.

The Scores

This is Devlin and Emmerich’s best and most original collaboration. It has a blend of the heady sci-fi Emmerich worked on with Moon 44 (where the two met) with just enough of the action and mass audience appeal that Devlin brought to the team to make it commercially viable. (It was the increasing amount of this contribution that turns me off their later collaborations.) There are few areas where the exploration of ancient Egypt will turn into a sci-fi action film, too. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects work fairly well for the budget. There are times when the sand beneath the pyramid is clearly CGI, and other times when the city is clearly a model, but most of the effects work well. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is well done. In this, the Director’s Cut, we get a few scenes about the other item found at the dig site (that didn’t make a huge contribution to the movie as a whole), but the biggest difference when compared to the theatrical edition is that the other soldiers (and Ferretti in particular) play larger roles, providing some of the information provided by Jackson and/or O’Neil in the theatrical release. It makes this feel more like a team effort and less like a pair of effective individuals surrounded by incompetants. The main story is interesting as well, with some decent justification for the lack of long-term development of a culture over 1000 years. I also like the fact that the cause of death of O’Neil’s son is clear, but never stated aloud. It shows a lot of respect for the audience, and makes us realize that we may have misjudged O’Neil’s intentions the first time we saw him. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was well done. Spader and Russell are certainly recognizable, but neither was a major star when this came out. The casting was chosen based on ability, which is also why every major Israeli actor and actress found a spot here somewhere. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is fairly strong. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, but I was entertained, even on repeated viewings. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production was well done. David Arnold’s score was great, particularly for a relative newcomer. The lighting didn’t have a lot of variation, and the scenes with the second relic should have stayed cut, but it’s a decent little movie by some (then) little known creators.

I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decently entertaining movie, worth checking out, particularly as a lead-in to the series. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, the director’s cut of Stargate receives 31 out of 42.

7 replies on “Saturday Movie Review – “Stargate: Director’s Cut””

  1. y42 says:

    I wonder
    When I saw this, I felt like 60 pages of the script had been ripped out.
    A whole people in subjugation of their incarnate, very present gods rebell on the word of some strangers, and they just happen to know how to use automatic weapons, which they learned to operate despite being uneducated slaves and without injuring themselves… I didn’t buy it.

    I wonder if the director’s cut is more believable… it would have to be, to get such a high score…

  2. 3vi1 says:

    Not a major star?
    >> Spader and Russell are certainly recognizable, but neither was a major star when this came out

    Leading roles in Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Escape From New York, Tango and Cash, Captain Ron, etc. and appearances in at least 60 TV shows and movies in the 30 years prior to Stargate, and you say Kurt Russell wasn’t a major star when this was released?

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: Not a major star?

      Leading roles in Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Escape From New York, Tango and Cash, Captain Ron, etc. and appearances in at least 60 TV shows and movies in the 30 years prior to Stargate, and you say Kurt Russell wasn’t a major star when this was released?

      My thoughts too. Not to nit-pick the reviewer’s work, but … :)

      As you point out, Russell did his time as a TV star, then he had plenty of work as a star in successful action and dramatic films (in addition to the movies already mentioned, include "Backdraft", "Silkwood", and "Tombstone"), and his turn in comedies ("Overboard", probably his most successful.)

      And Spader was one of the "brat pack" of the 80’s, culminating with "Sex Lies & Videotape", plus he played the nerdy, evil department store manager in "Mannequin", he was in "Less Than Zero", "Pretty in Pink" … "Diner." In 1994, when he was cast in Stargate he had significant cachet as a film star from his work in the 80’s.

      They were both widely recognized names on the movie poster, although from this movie both actors certainly received boosts in their careers at a time when their names were not as widely seen as they had been in previous years. In an industry where visibility = star power, both Spader and Russell had previously seen wider exposure. Perhaps this is what the reviewer meant to say. :)

      -Joe

      • fiziko says:

        Re: Not a major star?
        I worked in a theater when this came out. Everyone knew Kurt Russell’s name, but people weren’t seeing his movies just because he was in them, like they were doing with Tom Hanks at the time. Over half of the audience had no idea who Spader was and what else he’d been in until I told them. That’s what I meant.

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: Not a major star?
          It’s worth mentioning that Russell’s early crossover from television had him playing nerd hero "Dexter Reilly" in three Disney films.

  3. octa says:

    spoil me
    Can someone spoil it for me and tell me what the 2nd relic was in the director’s cut?

    • amphigory says:

      Re: spoil me

      Can someone spoil it for me and tell me what the 2nd relic was in the director’s cut?

      If I remember correctly:
      They uncover a fossil showing one of Ra’s soldiers

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