STARGATE (ULTIMATE EDITION)
Reviewed March 1st, 2003 by Dan Jones
“Give my regards to King Tut, asshole.”
What can be said about Stargate? The film was surprisingly successful, resulting in a spin-off television series, Stargate SG-1. The plot is fairly easy enough. A strange portal, or Stargate, is found in Egypt in the early 1900s and is transferred to a facility for further evaluation. Eventually Dr. Daniel Jackson (an Egyptologist played by James Spader) figures out how this device works, opening a portal into a world he knows nothing about. Due to the uncertainty of where this device will lead anybody who passes through, a special team is created, lead by a retired Colonel, Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell).
Upon passing through they discover a race of people under the rule of a being calling himself the Egyptian God, Ra (played by Jaye Davidson). From here, well, I think that’s enough plot summary without giving too much away.
Overall, Stargate is an okay movie for entertainment value. This is truly science fiction so the plot does have some gaping holes and some slightly cheesy moments, but it’s not too over the top.
Stargate has gone through a number of releases in the DVD arena, this time coming in the way of an “Ultimate Edition.” One might assume, and rightfully so, that this Ultimate Edition would be overflowing with extras…but sadly this is not really the case. But, it’s undoubtedly better then the previous releases and does contain both the theatrical and director’s cut of the film. Let’s take a look.
Video wise, Stargate looks much better then previously seen on DVD. Detail is improved, color vibrancy and richness seems up, and darks and blacks seem much improved. Nevertheless, the additional scenes in the director’s cut need a lot of help - with extensive print damage and general lesser quality throughout. This can be quite obvious at points, but shouldn’t be a problem for most people as director’s cuts are historically targeted at die-hards anyways.
On the audio side we have been treated to a huge step forward with tracks in Dolby Surround EX and DTS ES 6.1. Both mixes sound great, with the nod going to DTS as the standout on the disc. Surround use is active and dynamic throughout, along with great imaging across the front soundstage. Dialogue is crisp and LFE use is great. Overall this is a surprisingly active track with great clarity and depth.
As for extras, as I said before, there are not as many as you’d think. Starting it off we have an audio commentary with Roland Emmerich (director) and Dean Devlin (producer). It should be said that this is the same audio commentary as has been included on the previous directors cut release, so this track only applies to the director’s cut.
Next up we have “Is There a Stargate” which contains an interview with “Chariots of the Gods” author, Von Daniken. Basically he discusses the theory of alien races creating some of the Earth’s wonders, namely the pyramids. Interesting, even though the feature seems to take itself a bit too seriously.
Next we have what is probably the best feature on the disc, “The Making of Stargate: Creating a Whole New World.” This gives us a large amount of interview footage, as well as a behind the scenes look at some of the film’s special effects. Also discussed are the trials and tribulations with filmy in a desert environment.
Finishing up the extras (yes, already) are two trailers (international and U.S.), filmographies and brief production notes.
Will this be the last of the Stargate DVD special editions? I’d have to guess yes. The presentation here is very good; you’ve got a nice jump up in video quality from previous releases as well as killer new audio tracks. Yes, there aren’t that many extras, but at least both versions of the film are on the set. This new release is worth the upgrade if you’re a fan, and worth checking out if you really enjoy science fiction.
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