Stargate is the name given to a mysterious circular item found in Egypt eighty years ago and witnessed by a young girl called Catherine. In the present day the government still haven't figured out how it works, that is until reluctant expert Dr. Daniel Jackson has a look at the new-found discovery.
He deciphers the seventh and final code necessary to activate the phenomenon, allowing anyone or anything to cross through time and space to another point in the galaxy. Teaming up with an army team led by Col. Jack O'Neill who has his own troubles - his son shot himself dead accidentally, they set off to explore what's on the other side, finding an enslaved tribe held under the control of an evil God, Ra.
At the start of the expedition, O'Neill and Jackson are on opposing sides, mentally, especially since O'Neill's orders are to make sure those on the other side can cause no harm towards the people of Earth, but once they find their common goal it forces them to overcome their differences and find a way to defeat Ra.
The two main characters played by Kurt Russell and James Spader spar well together. Russell is more used to action/adventure films having been through Backdraft, Escape From L.A., Escape From New York, Executive Decision and Tango And Cash. Spader on the other hand has usually taken the more arthouse/low-budget route through Hollywood. When his star was in the ascendancy he started in comedies such as Mannequin and Pretty In Pink, then went onto the dramas Sex Lies and Videotape, White Palace and Two Days In The Valley, before Crash-ing into controversy with the censorship board with David Cronenberg's bizarre movie. Today, neither of them are particularly big Hollywood draws. How things change.
Jaye Davidson is still best known as Dil from The Crying Game, and we all know what happened in his role in that movie. Out of the entire cast though, Alexis Cruz, as the young boy Skaara, is the only member to appear in the spin-off television series "Stargate SG-1".
This disc contains both the theatrical and 130-min extended Director's Cut versions of the film, the first of which comes after the Stargate is unearthed in 1928 and shows petrified Horus guards near the cover stones, giving the idea that some had tried to come through the Stargate after its burial, but this was cut to shorten the running time.
Presented in the original 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, the picture is nicely detailed but has a weird shimmering effect on it which also caused Optimum's Luc Besson Blu-ray releases to suffer. For the record, I'm watching on a Panasonic 37" Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
As for the sound, this is in DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio in English (with a 5.1 option in French and German), or DTS 5.1 for those, like me, without the full technical dohickey. For a special effects film, expect the usual whizz-bang explosions usually associated with a Devlin/Emmerich production nicely represented here, not to mention the fact that your room will vibrate when the Stargate powers up for the first time! I can still remember seeing this one at the cinema and how exception the sound was, as my local, Manchester Showcase, was only just starting to equip a couple of its screens with DTS audio.
The extras are as follows:
* Stargate: History Made (22:19): A present day look back at the concept of the film, the casting and a general 'making of', all mixing in clips with chat from key cast and crew members. This featurette has 3 chapters
* Making of Stargate (52:02): A more in-depth look at the movie, presented in 4:3 and spread over 9 chapters, and this time filmed at the same time as the movie was made.
* Is There a Stargate? (12:11): A featurette pontificating on whether aliens have been here before.
* Original Stargate Previews (17:19): Five made-for-TV segments narrated by a man with a deep voice, made to promote the movie on its original release.
* B-Roll (6:03): Various on-set footage without narration.
* Gag Reel (3:13) Does what it says on the tin, although it's basically the cast and crew messing about and all in one take.
* Trailer (2:38): In rather ropey-looking 16:9. Come on, Optimum, you could've sourced a better print than this?
* Audio commentary: with writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer/producer Dean Devlin.
* Picture-in-picture: Stargate Ultimate Knowledge: Loads of additional info as the film progresses for the Stargate afficianado.
* BD Live: Connect your Blu-ray player to the internet and it sounds like you'll be able to get info the IMDB page for this film. I've never got my player to go online properly before, so I'll just visit IMDB anyway.
The menu mixes a short piece of the theme with some mediocre pyramid-style animation, and the text is available in English, French of German. Oddly, after it plays the music once, it then reloads the menu but doesn't need to do it again. Chapters-wise, this time there are 3 more than the average Optimum release, which makes a change, but still, 15 over a 2hr+ running period is just simply not enough. Finally, when it came to subtitles, Optimum are bad enough at the best of times with dropping them, but this is the ultimate insult - there are subtitles in French and German, but not the film's original language of English!