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Stargate: The Movie (Ultimate Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The big budget Roland Emmerich sci-fi adventure Stargate was the precursor to Emmerich’s mega-blockbuster Independence Day. A disjointed mix of archeology, sociology, and space adventure, the film starts off when an ancient Egyptian artifact is uncovered in 1928 near the great pyramids.

Decades later, Egyptologist Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is recruited by the U.S. government to help decode the strange symbols on the artifact. He helps them unlock the key to the Stargate, a portal that allows for intergalactic travel. The U.S. military then sends Jackson along with Colonel O’Neil (Kurt Russell) and a military unit through the Stargate on an expedition that secretly involves plans to destroy the Stargate using a nuclear bomb. The plan goes awry when the crew get stuck on the other side of the Stargate and they discover a human civilization with roots in ancient Egypt that is enslaved by an alien being using them to mine powerful crystals.

Emmerich’s film is filled with epic visuals, innovative (for the time) visual effects, and a sense of adventure. The driving force of the film are the various action set pieces, but Spader is out of place as the nerdy scientist. He is outperformed at every turn by Russell who plays the conflicted and wildcat Army Colonel to perfection.

Stargate, in the end, is never able to escape the cult sci-fi quality that is what has endeared it to fans over the years, but keeps it from being a true, big budget epic. It suffers a similar fate to that of David Lynch’s Dune, albeit with a storyline that is easier to follow.

  • James Spader in Stargate (1996)
  • James Spader and Mili Avital in Stargate (1996)
  • Stargate (1996)
  • Stargate (1996)
  • Kurt Russell in Stargate (1996)
  • Kurt Russell in Stargate (1996)
  • Stargate Ultimate Edition (Imprint_VVE3427)

The Video

Stargate was originally shot on the Panavision Panaflex Gold II and Panavision Panaflex Platinum with Panavision Primo and E-Series lenses on 35mm film stock in the anamorphic format framed at 2.39:1. This “Ultimate Edition” from Australia’s Via Vision Entertainment is not a new restoration and is the same HD transfer that has been knocking about on Blu-ray since 2006. Unfortunately, this transfer is no longer – and never was – adequate. It is time for this film to get a brand new 4K restoration and a 4K Ultra HD release. There is heavy ringing around edges of people and objects and the grain has a softness to it that hinders ultimate detail. Color is still fine, however, and there is a good amount of detail in shadows.

The Audio

The audio has been and still is the strength of this Stargate transfer. The audio mix comes in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 which plays back in 5.1 on my 5.4.2 Atmos/DTS:X compatible setup. This is an aggressive and bombastic mix with heavy use of the surround channels for discrete and ambient effects, wide dynamic range, clean and clear score balanced into the action, and full, intelligible dialogue.

The Supplements

Both theatrical and extended cuts of the film are included, an audio commentary with Emmerich, and several featurettes that include many interviews with cast and crew. None of the bonus features are new but they are entertaining and the slipcover from Via Vision adds a classy touch to the release.

  • Theatrical and Extended Cuts
  • Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Writer/Producer Dean Devlin (Extended Cut)
  • Picture-in-Picture Stargate Ultimate Knowledge (Extended Cut)
  • Deciphering the Gate: Concepts and Casting – Featurette (1080p; 00:07:50)
  • Opening the Gate: The Making of the Movie – Featurette (1080p; 00:10:10)
  • Passing through the Gate: The Legacy – Featurette (1080p;0-0:04:29)
  • Is There a Stargate? – Featurette (SD; 00:12:11)
  • The Making of Stargate – Documentary (SD; 00:23:33)
  • Original Stargate Previews (SD; 00:17:19)
  • B-Roll Footage (SD; 00:06:03)
  • Gag Reel (SD; 00:03:15)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:02:38)

The Final Assessment

Stargate continues to entertain and the audio mix, despite not being upgraded to Atmos or DTS:X, is still reference quality. Imprint’s release is as good as it can be given the quality of the now-aging HD restoration. This release is only for completists who love this film and really want every home video version there is.


Stargate (Ultimate Edition) is out on Blu-ray May 24, 2023 from Imprint Films


  • Rating Certificate: AU: PG
  • Studios & Distributors: Canal+ | Centropolis Film Productions | Carolco Pictures | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) | MGM/UA Distribution Company | Via Vision Entertainment
  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Written By: Dean Devlin | Roland Emmerich
  • Run Time: 116 Mins. (Theatrical Cut) | 130 Mins. (Extended Cut)
  • Street Date: 24 May 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes The big budget Roland Emmerich sci-fi adventure Stargate was the precursor to Emmerich’s mega-blockbuster Independence Day. A disjointed mix of archeology, sociology, and space adventure, the film starts off when an ancient Egyptian artifact is uncovered in 1928 near...Stargate: The Movie (Ultimate Edition) (Blu-ray Review)