In a Galaxy Pharoah Away
"Stargate" can be described as Indiana Jones meets Star Wars and that is in itself a problem because it makes it too familiar, too look-alike, which it is a shame because there is so much to love about "Stargate", the idea itself of a teleporting device found in Egypt is good and visually it has the wow factor. But get beyond that and it just feels like we go from Indiana Jones to Star Wars culminating in what for me is a rather dull and predictable battle and not the powerful conclusion that the movie deserved.
Over half a century after an archaeological dig discovered some strange artefacts in Giza, Egyptologist Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader - Dream Lover) is brought in by the US military to try and solve what the strange symbols mean. What he discovers is that the artefacts are a Stargate, a mysterious device with the power to transport those who go through it to another a planet and along with Col. Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil (Kurt Russell - Tombstone) and his team of soldiers they head through to find out what is on the other side.
So I've mentioned Indiana Jones to Star Wars a couple of times already and there is good reason. The start of the movie as we are taken back to 1928 and an archaeological dig in Giza has the look of Indian Jones and when we get brought back up to the present and Dr. Daniel Jackson it still has a touch of the Indiana Jones about it. That is not so bad because this intro which sees Daniel unlocking the riddle of the symbols and in doing so making the Stargate work is entertaining, it has that wow factor as we watch this big, revolving circle move into action. And to be honest both from the cleverness and look this opening is genuinely exciting.
We then shift into the realms of Star Wars as Daniel, Jonathan and his men venture through the Stargate to the other side, a distant planet which initially looks like Egypt till we get the wow factor of 3 moons and yes that simple element gives it a wow factor. I mention Star Wars because we get an encounter with a strange animal and then a civilization who speak their own language and basically it feels very familiar. In fairness this side of the movie is still entertaining especially as we have a mix of humour and drama as we learn all about how the Stargate came to be. But without going into detail it then goes wrong because everything ends up in a final battle, a rather routine and not spectacular battle which the movie deserved.
It means that whilst "Stargate" has an original idea it seems to have drawn on other movies a little too heavily and Indiana Jones and Star Wars are not the only ones. And whilst visually it is brilliant it does make it a little too familiar almost to the point it feels like it is imitating these other well known movies.
It also suffers because whilst both James Spader and Kurt Russell play their characters well their characters are not very well defined. There is so little depth to them and whilst we have an introduction which established Col. Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil as a man troubled by his son's death it doesn't really make the character that full on. Same with Dr. Daniel Jackson because whilst we have a man that questions who built the pyramids and is a dweeb it doesn't feel fleshed out enough.
What this all boils down to is that "Stargate" is entertaining and has a wonderful look about it as it seems to have drawn on other notable movies. But it doesn't do justice to what is a good basic idea, instead giving us what feels almost a cop out of an ending for being so unoriginal.