At first glance Stargate's credentials don't exactly spell out must see: a $40 million action epic with a PG rating, no A-list stars and plot-line that sounds remarkably similar to Chariots Of The Gods: The Movie. It didn't rate too highly with the majority of American critics either who dismissed the movie as a "no-brainer" and then had to sit back and gnash their teeth as it became a smash hit.
The action opens in a 1928 Egypt where what looks alarmingly like an enormous stone Polo mint is uncovered in the middle of the desert. Flash forward to the present and we learn that said confection is both of extra-terrestrial origin and can transport matter across the universe. Enter Egyptologist James Spader who first figures out how the thing works and then accompanies Kurt Russell and his team of indentikit grunts across the galaxy to some far-flung planet.
Predictably, things go wrong almost immediately, with sandstorms, unintelligible locals and the body possessing, alien sungod Ra (Davidson) spoiling a fine day's space-travel. The rest of the movie follows our heroes as they get the girl, defeat the baddie and drop lines such as "Give my regards to King Tut, asshole!" without cracking up.
There's no doubt that this has been pieced together like a plagiarists' scrapbook with bits of Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and even The Man Who Would Be King chucked in, and it's at least half an hour too long for its own good. However, both Russell and Spader are amiable enough as the mismatched explorers and the special effects are well up to scratch. Most importantly, there's a sense in which, while it may be ridiculously far-fetched, suspension of disbelief is just about possible as it swings along with a committed gusto rarely seen since the heyday of George Lucas.