Blu-ray Review: Stargate (1994)

I ruined several VHS tapes and my parent’s VCR through constant rewinds of various titles, namely, The ‘Burbs, Waterworld and Stargate. Thankfully, home video is far less mechanical these days. Now, light years from that Channel 7 recording I cherished so much during the mid-90s, Via Vision has released the Ultimate Edition of Roland Emmerich’s classic on Blu-ray in a 2-disc set which includes the extended and theatrical editions.

Decades after a teleportation device is found in Egypt, a disregarded Egyptologist and linguist, Daniel Jackson, manages to translate its symbolic coordinates, leading him and a team of Air Force Special Forces through a wormhole to a distant planet.

Stargate does have its fanbase but is subject to a baffling amount of ridicule, which I think is fair to say is attributed to Roland Emmerich’s reputation as a genre filmmaker, but I think his heart is in the right place with an epic slice of pure science-fiction that dives into a widely discussed ‘what if?’ scenario.

We discover the great pyramids are the result of alien intervention, a singular being and the last of their kind, desperate to remain immortal through a human surrogate, who masquerades as the god of the sun, Ra, played by Jaye Davidson, whose androgynist quality is perfect for the gender ambiguity that surrounds many “Gods”.

As a movie, Stargate ticks just about every box, especially delivering action sequences. Think of those countless sci-fi ‘B pictures’ from the 50 and 60s; Stargate is akin to that creativity but is elevated far beyond the associated cheapness by its substantial budget which affords the film a high standard of production value with immaculate set pieces, impressive practical effects with measured digital enhancements.


While lacking any new bonus content, the assortment Via Vision has assembled from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases serves as a wonderful reminder of those early days when extras literally showed you how an entire film was made. Behind-the-scenes featurettes break down the film’s technical challenges and interviews with the cast and crew reveal a very positive experience during production, and in retrospect.

There are two versions of the film, theatrical and extended which only differ by serval minutes. You don’t get a different experience with the extended cut, just a little extra.


After some light investigative work on, I’ve concluded that Via Vision’s edition has been sourced primarily from the 15th anniversary edition that was released in the U.S. and considering we’re now 14 years from that milestone, the image quality does show its age. Presented in 2.40:1 with an epic 7.1 DTS-HD track, the picture is a little dark at times and isn’t much of a leap from its DVD counterpart. Sound, on the hand, is immersive and extremely well mixed with layers of audible details. Dialogue is typically a little low in volume, which is often a drawback with surround sound. English subtitles are included.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Kurt Russell, who is billed alongside his nerdier co-star, James Spader. He delivers as the film’s flawed hero, playing an assertive military type with little personality, but goes full ‘Kurt Russell’ during the film’s spectacular final act. Stargate caters to action fans and bookworms, but more importantly, it entices the imagination, inviting us to look at our own world with a greater sense of wonder.

(1994, director: Roland Emmerich)



direct blu-ray screen captures



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