Saturday, December 08, 2007

Stargate

(movie review)

Since I am a self-confessed Science Fiction Geek, I guess the big question is why I waited so long to see this movie.

It was partly because of the bad reviews it got. It was partly because I always thought the previews looked stupid. But mostly it was tribe loyalty. This movie came out the same summer as "Star Trek 7", and in the summer of 94 I was a huge 16 year old Star Trek nut. And so I boycotted the competition.

Had this film gone one to become a huge hit and a modern day classic, I'm sure I would have eventually outgrown my tribal predjudices and rented it long before now. But instead this was one of those lesser films that kind of quietly disappear after a less than spectacular theatrical run.

...Or so I thought...

The other day I was wondering through my local video store and I noticed there was a whole row of DVDs for the "Stargate" TV show. This is something that had been flying beneath my radar, no doubt partly due to my having been in Japan (my standard excuse for everything). But I thought if this movie was popular enough into so many TV shows, maybe it was worth checking out.

And then when I found out Kurt Russell was starring in the movie, that was the clencher for me.

As a kid I was forbidden to watch anything except the Disney Channel or PBS. Therefore I grew up watching all those old Disney Kurt Russell movies. In fact I didn't even know Kurt Russell had a career as an adult actor until "Tombstone" became a cult hit on my college dorm floor Freshman year.
Mostly for nostolgia value, Kurt Russell is one of those few actors whose presence alone in enough to recommend a movie to me. (I should have added him to my list in this post)

So, I rented the movie.

WOW, does this movie suck or what? Somebody will have to explain to me how this movie managed to generate 3 spin-off TV series, because this movie contains some of the laziest writing I've seen in a long time.

The premise in this movie is pretty far-fetched, but of course in a lot of science fiction/ fantasy movies you have to give the basic premise a little space, and assume that if you do that everything else in the movie will follow logically. In this case the writers abuse that good faith to pack the movie full of improbably coincidences and leaps of logic. Either the writers of this movie are idiots, or (more likely) they simply assume we are. If this movie had been 50 years older and filmed in black and white, I'm sure it would have been featured on "Mystery Science Theater 3000".
To list all the plot holes, leaps of logic, and unlikely coincidences would take too long, but my favorite was when James Spader's character accidentally discovers a wall panel which has written down the whole history of Stargate (just in case I guess foreign travellers stumble upon it and need a succient summary of our story so far) and among other things find out that the god Ra has forbidden writing things down to prevent rebellion. Leaving aside the fact that throughout history numerous slave rebellions have occured among illiterate slaves, if things are forbidden to be written down what is this whole history doing in the first place?

The action scenes often make as little sense as the plot. (At one point one of the baddies dons long nails so he can give Kurt Russell a slight scratch on the back during the fight.) With lots of poorly designed or improbable science fiction space devices.

Besides Kurt Russell, this movie features French Stewart in the unlikely role as one of the soldiers (before he was typecast in squinty eyed comedy roles). Other than that I can't find a lot to recommend this film.

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