A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 48 – Stargate (Ultimate Edition)

Stargate (Ultimate Edition) – April 17th, 2010

It is very strange not just to be watching this weekend’s movies so separated. And I will admit, I have never seen this movie all the way through. It’s one of those movies I flip through every so often and linger on long enough to see a few scenes, then I end up having to leave or change the channel or do something else and I don’t see the rest. So I’ve seen a lot of it, but not all of it and not all at once. I’ve got a couple of movies like this. Watching it now, I realize I’ve seen most of it, but not a couple of key scenes. I’d say maybe they’re not scenes in the regular movie, but they’re pretty important scenes, so no. I’ve just happened to always miss them. Weird.

My first comment is that John Deihl is in this, and it’s produced by Dean Devlin. They were both in a movie called City Limits, which was riffed on by MST3K. And then there’s Richard Kind, who was in Quest of the Delta Knights. It’s like a big MST3K alum reunion. It makes me laugh even though I’m pretty sure no one else would be quite as amused as I am. But then, I turned my brain off when I started this movie because I knew if I didn’t I’d end up pissy about the absolutely horrible archaeology. Since I watched this with an archaeologist (the friend I’m visiting right now, who’s decided against reviewing it herself tonight but will hopefully do one tomorrow) I didn’t have to get pissy. She complained and we all laughed.

Leaving aside the archaeological inaccuracies, and issues with linguistics and whatnot, which you really do sort of have to do since this is a movie about an alien “creating” the ancient Egyptian culture and therefore the rest of human civilization (inaccuracy!) and there being a giant stone ring that can serve as a teleporter-type device to a far off planet. It’s a science fiction movie. Suspension of disbelief is key here. But once you do let all that stuff go, it’s a fun plot about this super powered alien being a total jackass and keeping a bunch of people descended from the ancient Egyptians as his slaves so he can build stuff and be all powerful and god-like, and then people on Earth sticking their noses in where they don’t belong and getting into horrible trouble.

Now, about the team from Earth. On one hand, I can totally see why Daniel Jackson is probably snubbed at office parties. He’s not terribly diplomatic about being brilliant and all, and he comes off as more than a little flaky. I mean, he’s totally so brilliant, he can translate symbols based on constellations in another galaxy. Also, he’s apparently allergic to military haircuts (we’ve decided Kurt Russell with that haircut looks like Duke Nukem). It’s the most logical explanation. He’s cute and all, and he’s got floppy hair, so I’ll allow his obliviously arrogant genius routine, but I can see why people might want to stick a “kick me” sign on his back. That being said, the way the soldiers act when they’re through the stargate? Bad form, gentlemen. Not a terribly good idea to go antagonizing the guy who has the best chance of getting your sorry butts home. It seems like the poorest thought out reconnaissance mission ever organized. Who the hell did they bring? A linguist/archaeologist and a bunch of soldiers who don’t seem to have a clue what they’re up to, and then the dude who brought a bomb.

Of course they muddle through it, but they manage to totally violate the Prime Directive a few times, like when O’Neill tries to give Skaara a smoking habit. But a lot of it is luck and Daniel’s super amazing oblivious brilliance. Maybe it would feel a little less bumbling to me if every scene didn’t feel like it was about a minute or two too long. I enjoyed it, but it dragged in places. That much could be the Ultimate Edition thing. I’m not sure. I like it anyhow and enjoyed watching it. Even if the trip through the stargate looks like the Doctor Who opening. Really. We hummed the music.

I will say it’s a pretty movie. And the plot is actually more than halfway decent if you aren’t picky about some things. Caring about most of the characters doesn’t really enter into it, but it doesn’t have to. It’s action and space ships and fake Egyptian gods in pretty helmets and hey, it sparked three spin-off series. That definitely counts for something. Sometimes you want some brainless pretty action and that’s what this is.


April 17, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 2 Comments

Stargate (Director’s Cut)

April 17, 2010

Stargate (Director’s Cut)

This is a little odd. Amanda is out of state visiting a friend (who should hopefully be submitting our first guest review today!) Because of this I am watching the Stargare Ultimate Edition Director’s Cut, but I don’t know what version Amanda is watching. So I’ll try to ignore scenes like the the bit at the very beginning that were not in the version I saw in the theater way back when this first came out.

I do enjoy a good Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin film. Like this or Independence Day (but not like the travesty that is the United Statsian Godzilla movie.) They’re not concerned with things like plausibility or making sense – they just want to lay out the movie’s ground rules so they can get right into the action. They’re like James Cameron light. I mean, within the first half hour of this movie you have the whole premise of the film and, really, it doesn’t matter that it makes no sense whatsoever. (The stargate that the military have has only about 50 symbols on it, and the military already knows six of the ones they need, so in two years they haven’t been able to find the seventh one? How is that possible?)

Of course it doesn’t matter that the plot makes no sense. These movies are all about simply turning your brain off and enjoying the spectacle. And on the spectacle they deliver. If you can just immerse yourself in the world they present you with then you can go along and have a good deal of fun. I remember well watching this in the theater back in ’94 and being quite pleased with the final showdown with the alien and his henchmen in the pyramid, when the characters use the alien technology against him. Kudos to Emmerich on that – the set up worked and ultimately the payoff was a lot of fun. Good, brainless, sci-fi fun.

The real star of this movie is is, I think, the production design. Sure it’s a fun adventure film and all, but what sticks with you when it’s all over is all the cool Egyptian inspired costuming and set design for the alien and his beast headed henchmen. The alien ship, technology, guns – all of it is super cool. So a special thank you to production designer Holger Gross and costume designer Joseph Porro and Patrick Tatopoulos who gets a closing credit all to himself for the design of the animatronic alien head-dresses. Great job, guys, you made the movie for me.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment