Back in 1994 it wasn’t that obvious Roland Emmerich was going to conquer and corner the market in big disaster movies, he was just another studio hack action director.
Little did anyone know then that he and producer Dean Delvin had designs to take the keys to the city, and when Fox gave them enough to make their little alien invasion film Independence Day, we all know the result.
Stargate was indisputably smaller in scale and scope, but it showed a confidence and ambition far above its station and budget despite a premise and execution that’s fun but slightly hokey in hindsight.
A device is found in Egypt that turns out to be a portal to another world where the inhabitants are suspiciously Egyptian in temperament, dress and culture. When an Egyptologist (James Spader) accompanies a crack team of commandos led by a fearsome but emotionally blank soldier (Kurt Russell) to the other side, they find themselves on an alien planet.
Slightly Earth-like but with a weird array of wildlife, they discover it’s under the thumb of a god-child being who calls itself Ra, after the ancient Egyptian deity, and find themselves roped into the fight to free the planet from his authoritarian yoke.
Need a clue that Emmerich knew how to fill a cinema screen and wrangle the magic of the medium even then? Watch the teleportation sequence on as big a screen as you can manage with high definition equipment. It’s not quite the experience as the rebel blockade runner flight from Star Wars’ explosive opening, but as the hairs on the back of your neck will tell you, it’s in the same class.
What a brilliant offering this newly released ‘Ultimate Edition’ Blu-ray set is from ViaVision. You may have seen and heard some of these extras that accompany the disc before but to have all of this – two different cuts of the movie accompanied by an insightful audio commentary, numerous featurettes, a comprehensive documentary on the film’s conception and execution, trailers, previews, B-roll footage and more – more than makes the sticker price on the sleeve good value for money.