It feels weird recommending one of the best science fiction movies of the nineties but here we are. Stargate is one of the movies that sparked my fascination with Egypt along with Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Mummy. Talk about classics. It features a very well-written story drawing on several different themes and fusing them into one, engaging narrative. A story that does have some basis in truth. And as soon as I mentioned that I must point you to the works of British author Graham Hancock. Right now, you’re just a couple of clicks away from a rabbit hole that are his podcasts with Joe Rogan. He talks about not only how a sphinx is much older than pyramids but also shows just how little we know about our history. How unchangeable are the views of the established historians, resisting any kind of revision.
However, I don’t want to lose you here, just to open you up to the realm of possibilities. Now, I’m not saying it was aliens, but it was motherfucking aliens! Stargate set the stage for the Ancient Aliens television show that would premiere some 15 years later. Some of the themes, albeit quite universal, will also make their way into Ridley Scott’s Alien sequels Prometheus and Covenant. I even think that some of the travel sequence can be seen in the Elite Dangerous video game. However, the thing that Roland Emmerich did so well in this movie was the sense of adventure and mystery. The feeling that something exciting is going to happen and it’s going to be cool, to use the appropriate nineties slang. And the science was just believable enough. For example, the stargate is a wormhole or an Einstein–Rosen bridge to be more precise.
The theories that Dr. Daniel Jackson proposes in his lectures are a subject of ridicule and laughter in the “serious” scientific circles. His idea of the pyramids being much older than originally thought is kind of a heresy dismissed at the spot. However, someone thinks that he might be on to something. That someone is Catherine Langford who invites Jackson to an army base for a consultation.
Her father uncovered a series of tablets with strange inscriptions back in 1928 and they’ve been trying to figure out what are they ever since. It would take just a couple of days for Jackson to translate the symbols. And then they would show him the real find. A strange device containing seven symbols that all need to be locked in place for it work. What would then happen no one knows as they never were able to power it up fully. This time will be different.
This was a very important movie for me back when I was younger. As it’s usual I was going through a lot of stuff and wanted to be anywhere else but where I was. And this movie provided me with the perfect opportunity to escape the dreaded reality into this strange new world. I also remember the brainwashing treatment in the nineties I was subjected to in a form of a trailer for this movie. They played it over and over again, showing off all the cool stuff Stargate has to offer. It features a lot of engaging gimmicks like the very visual style and design of items like the very gate, masks, and weapons. Not to mention the chevrons locking in place and all the other fun stuff that I will for you to discover.
Or rediscover, as this movie most definitely stood the test of time. Mostly because of its sturdy story and great performances. It’s funny to think that James Spader didn’t like the script and took the role just for the money. The same goes for otherworldly Jaye Davidson who plays Ra. As a joke, he asked for one million dollars and he fucking got them. And let me tell you this, he was worth every penny of that money. Of course, if there’s anything you can count on it’s that Kurt Russell’s performance is going to be great.
All this combined into a movie that spawned several television series, books, video games, and comic books. Hell, even now there are talks of either a new movie or a new television show. Regardless of what’s going to happen in the future, Stargate is already a true science fiction classic. For me, it has a special Star Trek vibe about it. The main story about how Ra keeps his populace subjugated and lessons about tyranny and kings, is a very profound one. At this point, I should probably tell you that Omar Zuhdi, a high-school teacher filed a copyright infringement lawsuit claiming that they stole his script Egyptscape. A script he submitted to Fox almost ten years earlier and never heard back from them. This would explain a lot of things, especially the wealth of intriguing and smart concepts presented here.
When you combine this with the undeniable talent that Emmerich and Devlin brought to the table, you get Stargate. Their flair for visuals and just the right pacing would produce some of the best action/sci-fi movies of the nineties. Here, the sets are grand and extremely well-crafted along with good special effects. As the movie progresses you get more and more jaw-dropping scenes culminating in one hell of a finale. In the end, if you’re looking for similar movies, you could have some fun with Gods of Egypt, a mindless fun but fun nonetheless. However, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Warcraft, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and John Carter are much better movies. And if you’re craving some more of the old-school action check out Total Recall, The Fifth Element, Screamers, and Starship Troopers.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Cast: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Viveca Lindfors, Alexis Cruz, Djimon Hounsou, Erick Avari, French Stewart
Fun Facts: Wardrobe and cinematography had to work around Jaye Davidson’s (he plays Ra) nipple rings – he refused to remove them.