Stargate (1994)

(Second viewing, on TV, July 2016) I remember seeing this in theatres (opening week!) and feeling let-down by the way a first act promising the mysteries of the universe led to an underwhelming film about primitive tribes rushing into revolution with our band of heroes. Watching it again twenty years later, with adjusted expectations, I’m still disappointed. I suppose that if it’s space opera that I want, the subsequent TV series and novelizations will suffice, but it doesn’t make the original film much better. And yet, there are a few things to note here: James Spader as a likable nerd, a prime-era Kurt Russell acting tough as a military operative, an early eye-catching role for Mili Avital, and primitive CGI being used in obvious ways. The familiar triumphant-rebellion angle is guaranteed to be rousing, and director Dean Emmerich does manage one or two interesting visuals. Historically, this Emmerich/Devlin production works best as a bit of a bigger-budget rehearsal for the more accomplished madness that was Independence Day. Even with good intentions, I still feel underwhelmed by Stargate.

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