Blu-Ray Review: Stargate: The Movie -- 15th Anniversary Edition

Fifteen years ago, two cinematic powerhouses came together and teamed up to form a union that would forever become infamous in critical circles but popular on the Hollywood set. Together these two men, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, would produce and direct (respectively) a number of of blockbuster hits that can only be described as spectacle. But before they rocked the world with films like Independence Day (ID4), The Patriot, or even the abysmal Godzilla, these two men would create one of the most expensive independent films of its time, a science fiction megahit that would go on to spawn a number of successful television and DVD successes of their own. That film was Stargate and now, 15 years later, it is getting the special edition Blu-ray treatment.

Stargate, as a film, was always a satisfying popcorn-munching expedition into science fiction. If it had one real problem it was that it was a film that very much wanted to be Star Wars meets Lawrence of Arabia and very much looked it, without actually being anywhere near as good as either of those films. But it has its fans and stands testament to being one of the only science fiction successes of its era.

Packed with scads of special features, this new disc has plenty for fans to sink their teeth into, although not all of it is what I would call essential viewing -- and none of the new material is riveting enough to warrant picking it up if you already own the Extended Cut Blu-ray. The disc has both cuts of the film: the theatrical and the longer extended cut. There's also the previously released making-of documentary and the "Is there a Stargate?" featurette (which is just a history of Alien/Egyptian/Mayan connection beliefs which border on the near-religious.)

New to the disc is a gag reel that isn't actually a gag reel. It's somewhat mislabeled. Instead, it is a three-minute tracking shot through the set of the film with the cast and crew participating in a series of gags, gimmicks, and movie parodies all in one take. The result is something worth watching, a cute sequence complete with wacky sound effects which would have probably been a YouTube sensation when it was made ... if there had been a YouTube at the time. There's also a somewhat frustrating trivia game that quizzes you on trivia laid throughout the special features, but does so while the movie is running, leaving you with moments of "next question in 50 seconds" neither allowing you to watch the film nor being entertained enough to want to keep answering questions. Also puzzling is a "Bonusview" picture-in-picture version of the film in which informative sequences interrupt the film to explain how it was made. This feature was done really well recently on the Star Trek TOS Blu-rays, but here the sequences are few and far between and simply interrupt the film rather than use the film as a background to interesting discussions. On the upside, there are a series of new featurettes on the making of the film, the casting decisions, and ultimately its legacy, having secured a fanbase all its own complete with conventions and spinoff series.

Sadly, the disc overall lacks anything new that will really excite anyone but the most diehard of Stargate fans or audio fans dying to hear the new 7.1 mix of the film. But if you don't already own the Stargate Extended Cut Blu-ray, this is a fine addition to any collection. It is, after all, a beautiful Blu-ray version of a solid, fun film.

Stargate: The Movie 15th Anniversary Edition is available now from Lionsgate.