It’s been nearly five years since ScienceFiction.com started Throwback Thursday, our ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past. Five years. Yet, we somehow we have managed to avoid one of the great science fiction movies of the last century. Whether it’s the greatest because of the quality of ideas (although the plot is up for debate), it certainly is undeniably influential.
Of course, I’m talking about “Stargate”, the 1994 film starring one of my early childhood crushes, James Spader. Oh, and Kurt Russell is there too. It’s hard to be a geek or a nerd without knowing the name “Stargate”, whether you’ve seen it or not. It’s had three spin-off shows, a whole host of extra-canon books and comics, and even more movies. You can’t go to a con without seeing someone dressed in a Stargate uniform or as one of the alien species. Even if you have never heard of it, you’ve seen it but never knew it.
“Stargate” is fascinating science fiction that does space travel in a way that we don’t usually see… i.e, there is no travel at all. In the world of Stargate, an advanced alien species uses wormholes that manifested in “stargates” to travel around the universe and dominate everything (well in the movie canon at the very least. I don’t want to get too deep into the twists and turns of stargate technology’s history on the television show). The humans managed to rebel and bury the stargate, ensuring that the evil alien fascist, Ra, could never dominate them again.
Oh, and aliens did build the pyramids. That’s where they docked their ships.
Fast forward to our era where the stargate is discovered, and the military taps an archaeologist/linguist to crack how to use it. When he does, they use it to travel to a world where they find out the aliens are still in control. The drama, therefore, ensues when the main characters become embroiled in a situation that they pretty much created to overthrow Ra whilst also attempting to get back to Earth.
In short, it’s more an action film than a science fiction film, but that’s fine. There is a lot of speculation about controlled wormholes (which I don’t think we see enough of in sci-fi), and also the humans on the other side of the stargate don’t speak English (I mean, why would they?), which is always the hallmark of a great sci-fi.
While it’s a simple concept, the great thing about this movie is it spawned an intricate universe of varying species and alliances, including different human cultures that developed under different alien reigns. And then that nine-season show spanned two other deeply intricate universes interconnected with the premise of just a stargate. There is no end of canon to enjoy once you start watching the movie, so if you are looking to really immerse yourself, why not go back to this wonderful classic.