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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What's the story?
In STARGATE, nerdy professor Daniel Jackson (James Spader), whose theories about ancient Egypt can clear a lecture hall faster than a shout of "Fire!," is recruited by the military to decipher the message on an ancient Egyptian portal. With the portal at last activated, the big question remains: "What's on the other side?" With a team led by Colonel O'Neil (Kurt Russell), Jackson is transported through the "Stargate" to a distant desert world, which clinches his theory that aliens were behind the building of Earth's pyramids. Now all he and O'Neil have to do is lead the planet's slave inhabitants into rebellion against their god Ra and get back home before somebody detonates that atomic bomb they packed along with them.
Is it any good?
If you loved Raiders of the Lost Ark and tolerated Dune, Stargate might just be your kind of movie. It borrows from both (an earthshaking archaeological find leads to a sandy planet in rebellious upheaval) but rearranges the pieces to create something that -- at least in the beginning -- is unique and relatively sophisticated. The Egyptian sci-fi motif lends itself to some dynamite sets and costumes. The characters, however, are mostly clichés. Though admirable in the role, James Spader plays the generic egghead ostracized for his outlandish beliefs. And Kurt Russell, as the tough guy colonel whose son accidentally shot and killed himself, would be easier to sympathize with if we didn't see him sitting despondently in the boy's room fondling a handgun.
The movie goes a bit effects-happy toward the end with morphing, glowing eyes, and crackling electricity. It's a distraction to keep us from seeing a promising setup going down in a mire of Hollywood convention. There's lots of fist fighting, a deadly bomb countdown, even an embarrassing Schwarzenegger-style catch phrase: "Give my regards to King Tut, a--hole!" That's about as bad as the language gets. The violence is also minimal for this sort of fare, so pull the teens onto the couch with you and buckle up. Fun is the key word here. Don't look for anything more and you're in for a good time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hollywood clichés. Were there moments in the film you've seen before, such as the Schwarzenegger-style catch phrase uttered before blasting an enemy? How many other movies can you name that use the same conventions? What's the appeal of using clichés rather than inventing new ideas for action movies? Is it just laziness? Or do audiences respond positively to the same familiar themes?
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