Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Written By: Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
When I was 10 years old this was one of the movies playing at the Uptown theater when I went to visit my dad in Washington D.C.. That theater’s single giant screen was my babysitter in those days and I spent plenty of time sitting in front of it during those visits. No theater has ever come close to being quite as magical as the Uptown was to me as a 10 year old. I would sit on the first row of the balcony and watch whatever was playing over and over again. I’m partial to all the movies I saw on that screen but it really helps that this one is so cool.
I really like the idea behind this movie. They don’t make such original science fiction anymore, or at least I haven’t seen anything like it. I like that the military has been keeping this ancient technology under wraps for decades trying to figure it out. When they get it operational the adventure begins and some of Earth’s greatest mysteries are there to be discovered. It’s a portal to another world and the military is sending a team through it into the unknown. The blending of ancient Egyptian culture, the military, and aliens is just awesome. Really cool idea that was ahead of its time. Unfortunately it’s one of the many that are destined for the eventual reboot that will probably just sully the original.
I really hope a reboot never comes to fruition. They could never top this one, and why even try? Where the hell are they gonna find anyone who can rock a flat top and beret like Kurt freaking Russell? Can’t do it! It didn’t work when they rebooted Total Recall. It didn’t work when they rebooted Robocop. They keep trying to carry on The Terminator franchise to no avail. Alien keeps trying to hang on with new movies and clearly that isn’t working. There’s just no way they should even try to remake this movie because it’s a bad idea. This movie is fine the way it is and it left its mark in the science fiction genre. We need movies like this, but not this. Certainly there are still people out there coming up with interesting ideas, we need more original science fiction these days and more than simply reboots and sequels to older properties.
I think this is one of, if not the, best movies made by Roland Emmerich. He has almost become like a gimmick director at this point specializing in disaster films. While those movies have become redundant I still like him as a director. After all, those disaster flicks aren’t terrible, I’d easily say that were worth watching one time as a rental. Maybe none of those disaster flicks qualified for our collection but I have a couple of Emmerich’s movies on the shelf and I’m quite fond of them. Independence Day is a very popular film but I have always had problems with it and never watched the sequel.
I think the music in this movie is exceptional. The theme they use anytime Ra is on screen is particularly compelling with its sinister sound. I am not very familiar with the film’s compser David Arnold, but I really like what he came up with. Sometimes a musical score can make or break a film. I don’t think the score here did either but it greatly enhances the film.
As I am want to mention I grew up in an action movie fanatic household. So, naturally I think Kurt Russell is awesome and I really like him in this movie. He rocks the shit out of that beret Demolition Man style. Dressed all in black and wearing that beret he should have been called Colonel John Spartan in this movie but I’ll let it slide. Kurt Russell is just too likable delivering lines like “Give my regards to King Tut asshole.” I’ve never been a big James Spader fan but I liked him in this movie. He apparently thought the movie was going to be awful but took the part for the money. Spader wasn’t the only one not really invested in the film as the actor who portrayed Ra, Jaye Davidson was apparently very difficult to work with. As a matter of fact he never acted again after this. I thought he was good though, of course all his lines are dubbed with that badass voice and all he had to do was look really evil.
This has been a fairly influential film in a way I am generally unfamiliar with. It inspired a television series that has been around a long time, I guess. I don’t know very much about it but I understand there is some minor crossover between the film and show. I only bring it up because this movie also inspired something that I cherish. There was an awesome direct reference to the film in one of the South Park Imaginationland episodes:
This is the best scene I could find on YouTube but you can see the Stargate and hear Kurt Russell as he is attacked by the Woodland Critters. Earlier in the episode Kurt Russell asks why he is there with this military crew and the response is “because you were in that movie that was kind of like this.” Hilarious, if you haven’t seen Imaginationland you should seek it out, some of the funniest stuff South Park has ever done.
This movie is special to me because it gets me all nostalgic over magical childhood memories. It’s a good movie aside from that though and there are plenty of reasons to like it. It’s got a real Chariots of the Gods feel to it and people love those wild theories. If you are a fan of science fiction this is a must see and I think the movie is easily worth your time to see it.
NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)