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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Time Travel > Stargate - Extended Cut (1994/Blu-ray)

Stargate – Extended Cut (1994/Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B+*     Extras: C     Film: C



It has been over ten years since the original (read photochemical/model work/Muppet) Star Wars films had wrapped up.  Lucas took so long to do the prequels that the digital visual effects era arrived more for worse than better and the prequel trilogy did not make many of the original fans happy.  Add all the tinkering with each of those early films and the fun has been tinkered out of the trilogy for the fans who made it a hit in the first place.  Though no match for the original films in their original form, Roland Emmerich’s Stargate – Extended Cut (1994) was a surprisingly successful attempt to recapture what people loved about the original films to begin with.


James Spader (playing against type) plays a professor of ancient civilization studies who takes a seemingly simple job to translate some hieroglyphics on some ancient Egyptian artifact.  What he does not know is that he has unleashed the energy of a very powerful portal to another world.  Joined in an uneasy alliance with a military troop led by a no-nonsense Colonel (Kurt Russell), they land up somewhere no human has ever journeyed before.  The problem they now face is, will they come back alive?


Against this story, the film tries to have some of the charm of Lucas’ films and in retrospect, did a better job hitting the spot of humor and humanity those films used to be known for.  Of course, some of this is formulaic and predictable, but some of it is decent and even fun.  It offers new laughs thanks to the decline of the original Star Wars vision into digitalness, as well as additional surprises with the fall of Star Trek franchise and the realization that so many Pop Science Fiction films and TV shows followed this one that it was a bit more ahead of the curve than it ever got credit for.


Before this film, a “stargate” was most associated with the conclusion of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but it is no masterwork and that has never been what the cinema of Emmerich and then co-producing partner Dean Devlin were about.  However, they made competent films that offered dumb fun with a difference and with as bad as films in the Action and Science Fiction genre have become since, Stargate is looking better than ever.  That includes much of the picture on this Blu-ray disc.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image has some issues with its extra footage, but otherwise looks good for its age, with the desert scenes looking decent and combination of production design and visual effects not being bad either.  One reason is that cinematographer Karl Walter Lindenlaub, B.V.K., shot the film in real anamorphic Panavision and though some effects may be better than others, this was meant to look good and does here.


The sound is here in standard Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and superior DTS HD ES.  The film began as a major DTS theatrical release to show off the format, though it got Dolby Digital treatment in Europe for the most part.  More recently, a standard DVD added an extra track, allowing for an EX/ES presentation.  Give or take that extra track, audiophiles were particularly happy with the old 12” DTS LaserDisc, as all the later DVDs did not quite match that.  Not any more, so those few fans holding on to that collector’s item can enjoy the comparison.  David Arnold, now know for his work on the James Bond films, turned in a decent score here better than his later Brosnan Bond works.  *Since DTS HD equipment is really not out on the market yet, but this is really good for its age and has some fine surround moments.  We look forward to trying this one out again when proper DTS HD equipment is in circulation.


The only extra is another classic audio commentary by Roland Emmerich, who offers must-hear commentaries like no other and is joined by then producing partner Dean Devlin.  There are more extras we may see down the line in some 50GB Blu-ray, but of all the extras to single out, this is easily the best Lionsgate could have picked.  Yes, to the dismay of the duo, this became a surprisingly huge TV franchise, but even at its best, the show lacked the charm and depth this film did have.  No wonder it is an early choice for Blu-ray.  To not issue it among the first batch would have been a major mistake.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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