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Stargate (Director's Cut, DVD)
Member Name: jonnyfun06
Stargate (Director's Cut, DVD)
Advantages: Big budget Sci Fi
Disadvantages: Directors cut doesn't really add much
Stargate was the first in the series of summer event movies made by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. The fact that it pays lip service to Egyptian mythology and history is what lifts it above the rest of its ilk. It also has its roots in a common premise held by conspiracy theorists and UFO aficionados, in which the human race couldn't possibly have evolved without extra-terrestrial interference.
The story starts 10000 years ago, when a dying alien comes to Earth. Happening upon a tribe of prehistoric humans in Egypt, he possesses a youth and becomes Ra. Flash forward to 1928, when an archaeological expedition discovers a mysterious, large ring in the desert, beneath which are the petrified remains of what appear to be Anubis and Horus.
In the present day, (1994) a young scholar, Daniel Jackson is drafted in to decipher the hieroglyphs and markings on the device. He translates the markings to mean Stargate and deciphers the instructions. When activated, there appears a vortex that leads to a planet at the other side of the known universe.
Enter Colonel Jack O'Neill, who is ordered to reconnoitre the other side, determine any threat and if necessary destroy the other Stargate. Daniel Jackson claims to be able to operate the other Stargate and bring them back home, so he joins the expedition.
Thus begins a fantastical journey through millions of light years to a distant planet. Once there, Jackson realises that he cannot return them without studying native hieroglyphics, which are conveniently absent, so they must explore the world to find these. They find natives who are enslaved by Ra, and while negotiating with them Ra returns. To return home they must lead a slaves' revolt against Ra and free the world.
By and large, the anamorphic transfer is flawless. The sets are expansive and detailed and are well portrayed on this disc. My particular bugbear is extra footage. This hasn't had the lavish care that the rest of the film has and it shows. When the focus switches to an added scene the quality change is very visible. It feels like you're watching VHS all of a sudden. This can be quite disconcerting and is the main reason I wish that the theatrical release was included on the disc.
The sets are very lavish, especially Ra's spaceship and the care and attention that was placed on the design of this movie is evident. This film was made on the cusp of the revolution in Digital effects and relies on both CGI and models. It's a surprise to see, but wires are evident holding up Ra's flying machines. Perhaps a little extra work could have sorted that out too.
Sound is well implemented in four languages. The English tracks are DD 5.1 and DTS. The Dolby Digital is more than acceptable with the action and effects well represented. The Soundtrack is excellent with David Arnold providing a memorable score.
Extras include the director's commentary, photo gallery, trailer and promo reel. The photo gallery contains 22 stills taken from the movie and the production. The promo reel is 10 minutes of movie.
The DVD release is Stargate: Director's Cut, which is actually more of an extended edition rather than a reworking of the movie. The scenes do add a little to the story, but don't essentially alter the film and it seems more of the filmmakers conceit rather than any creative decisions that have included them. For instance, the prologue where Ra happens upon the prehistoric people is repeated in flashback later in the film. Unlike Independence Day, where you had the choice of watching the Theatrical or Extended versions, here you have only the Director's Cut, which is a shame. I personally would have preferred having the choice.
The characters in these films are usually clichés and this is no exception. However the cast is more than up to the task and succeed in fleshing out the bare bone that they no doubt had to work with. James Spader plays the archaeologist and does show the expected absent-mindedness with aplomb. However he does portray a competent scholar, while the audience shares his sense of wonder, especially when he first steps through the Stargate.
Kurt Russell is the army Colonel O'Neill and does well with what would normally be a gung-ho marine character. He has a back-story concerning a deceased son that brings a sense of personal angst to the portrayal. But I have to say that, Jaye Davison's performance of Ra is exceptional. He brings an otherworldliness and majesty to the role that really fleshes out the character to more than just your average bad guy. You'll also see French Stewart (Third Rock) in a memorable minor role as Ferretti
This is a fun film, full of action and Egyptian pop-mythology. Close Encounters crossed with Indiana Jones. In the scheme of things it's an enjoyable piece of fluff. The design of the film is grandiose and lavish and it makes great eye-candy. There is the usual Hollywood schmaltz and sentimentality, but thankfully it is not too cloying, cheesy salute not withstanding. Its a blast.
Summary: If you like the TV series you should love this!