A mysterious stone circle is dug up in Egypt and swiftly transported to America where it belongs. The US military investigaty mysterious object division enlists the help of Dr Daniel Jackson (James Spader), an Egyptologist with even stranger ideas about the pyramids than Ben Carson, to help decipher a mysterious code on its rim. But unlike the barmy neurosurgeon he’s not totally out of his depth working for the government, and quickly cracks through, opening a star gate to another planet. He goes through the gate with a Colonel (Kurt Russel), a group of marines, and some technology that looks like a piece of spray-painted plastic.
This is bad sci-fi. The stargate is an interesting idea, but no effort is made to explore the myriad possibilities the gate throws up. No-one considers whether time will pass at the same speed on the other side, whether it will go to a planet, star or empty space, what the climate or gravity might be, or even if they will be able to withstand the transportation process.
Compare it to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘Contagion’ where the crew find a similar portal, and, even as a minor part of a 45 minute episode, they manage to give due consideration to its implications.
In Stargate they go through without so much as a coat on, meaning they wouldn’t even be able to survive on much of Earth’s surface. Fortunately they end up in a world boringly similar to our own and don’t need their coats.
They encounter a human civilization not dissimilar from ancient Egyptians, who worship the Sungod Ra, making it more like Gods of Egypt than Interstellar. But it’s not as fun as the former or as intelligent as the latter.
It’s a by-the-numbers action adventure, from the hit-and-miss special effects to the generic score. Its big weaknesses are its under-developed characters and the script which is in dire need of a humour injection.
As such the interplanetary adventure never lives up to its promise. Maybe some things are better left in their place. On that basis I think Stargate should have been left in the 90s.