No Escape from Kurt Russell: Stargate

Siskoid Cinema presents... No Escape from Kurt Russell, the show that explores the filmography of one of American cinema's best leading men and tries to get a handle on his mystique. Why is it we'll watch anything so long as Kurt Russell's name is attached to the project? On this episode, Siskoid and the Irredeemable Shag discuss 1994's Stargate. By Roland Emmerich who Siskoid has in his Top 5 Worst Directors List? Yeah, but Kurt Russell is in it!

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Bonus clips: "Stargate" by Roland Emmerich, starring James Spader, Richard Kind, Viveca Lindfors, Kurt Russell, Lee Taylor-Allan, Rae Allen, David Pressman, George Gray, Christopher John Fields and French Stewart; and "Stargate Overture" by David Arnold.

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11 responses to “No Escape from Kurt Russell: Stargate

  1. You know what, I’m on Shag’s side on this one. I also saw it in the theater (it came out my freshman year in college) and loved it. I immediately got the score on CD and listened to it almost as much as the 4 disc Star Wars set. I’m going to need to watch it again, but the last time I saw it a few years ago I still enjoyed it. The characters all have something to make them three dimensional, even the background ones. There’s also some real tension with the “we can’t get home” and “we can’t let them go through” plots.

    Could they have leaned less into the Kurt Russell-ness at the end? Yes, but I think it was a Jaws moment. We followed the character and cared about him that much so that once we reach the end, we’re cheering for him to be healed of his kids-with-guns-phobia even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Also like Shag, I didn’t watch the TV show due to it being on Showtime. I didn’t have access to that at college and if I was home, we only had it for the downstairs TV which was my dad’s. To this day, I don’t think I’ve seen a single episode of the TV shows based on the movie. Once I had the access, I either didn’t have the time or didn’t really care about whether I saw them or not.

    1. Funny enough, I’m the opposite of you. The TV show was in syndication on free TV (one year after they aired on Showtime), and that’s how it grabbed me. Later I was able to watch the current eps when the show moved to the Sci-Fi channel. But I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of the original movie.

  2. Fun discussion. I saw the movie in the theater and enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’ve seen it since. I never watched any of the series. This despite the fact that my previous employer of 21 years donated a thermal imager to the crew, which was used on the show. They sent it back and a poster, both signed by Richard Dean (McGyver) Anderson, who played Russell’s role in the series.

    I did get Stargate vibes from Russell when I watched Soldier. I enjoyed that movie as well, but again, haven’t seen it since that first viewing.

  3. Cool pod cast. This movie is Awsome. And Kurt is great in it. Also from SG1. The show was pretty good. The voice of Cratos was even in it. Also wait…. The person from the crying game was in 300. I think that happened after this. So that actor did at lest that.

  4. I’ve never seen this movie or the TV series but I enjoyed the discussion and always like to listen to this podcast. Kurt Russell was in his prime in the 90s and that’s my favorite decade for movies, maybe because I was in my 20s then and I saw more movies in the theater than at any other time in my life. I think some of the movies of the 90s were objectively some of the best and most fun.

    By the way I agree about Roland Emmerich and especially that Independence Day was not very good despite being a huge box office success.

  5. Stargate was one of those movies and franchises that just slipped by me. I remembered the images from the trailer and how cool I thought it looked. But never checked it out.

    So I watched this one specifically for the podcast. And if I’m being honest, it was kind of tough to get through and it took me a few days. I kept getting distracted because the film didn’t really hold my attention. I know that cyphers and language and the power of the written word were important aspects of this film, but I found those scenes where they try to communicate with the people who live in this world very tedious.

    This was a really interesting role for James Spader, who I’m more used to seeing as a kind of self-serving yuppie or in something completely bonkers lile Crash (the good one). So seeing him play the Rachel Weisz to Russell’s Brendan Frasier was wild.

    And it was interesting to hear Shag give us some background information, especially how they changed some things with Jaye Davidson to make him appear more threatening, because I loved all the choices he made in this. He oozed sinister malice and contempt while also having an almost feminine body language that gave him this sense of the kind of hubris a monarch like Ra needed in this film. The way he used his arms and how he held his head in some scenes was incredible. Seriously, one of my favorite portrayals of a sci-fi villain ever. The best thing in this movie as far as I’m concerned.

    But this is a pod about Kurt Russell, and while Shag said he felt someone else could have played this role, I think it would have been a completely different film. An action hero from the early 90s, like Arnold, Van Damme, Seagal, or even Bruce Willis probably would not have been able to make enough room for Spader to drive the first half of the film in the way Kurt did in this one. So while I did not really like this film, I would have to say it’s a good Kurt Russell movie simply because I’m not sure anyone else could have done it like he did.

  6. I haven’t seen this in a dog’s age but I remember thinking it was a C+/B-.

    I felt like it desperately wanted to be an intelligent sci-fi movie but didn’t get there. I also had a hard time with some of it. The people there have laser lances but are startled by a cigarette lighter?

    I also think Russell’s hair is modeled after Guile in the Street Fighter 2 game.

  7. I have to say I am firmly in the camp of Kurt Russell is brilliant in probably everything he does – he might have a bad film but I’ve not seen it yet. But at the same time I didn’t seek out Stargate because of Kurt Russell, I don’t even remember how I saw it the first time. This feels like a VHS rental likely shown at my Sci-fi Society at University probably on “big” 32″ CRT TV screens. Oh those were the days.

    I’ve read some Erich von Daniken books or similar – Charles Berlitz, Graham Hanncock and others. I subscribe to the Fortean Times – not because I believe in any of the paranormal or accient aliens etc but because I think we all need a sense of wonder about a world that seems now to be lacking there of. After all we’ve mapped the world with Satellites , we’d have found a Skull Island or Atlantis etc Our understanding of physics precludes the concept of ghosts and biology faries etc. But having that sense of what if, that sense of well maybe there’s more going on here – allows us sit back and enjoy what is glorious nonsense that is Stargate in all it’s forms.

    I’ve seen both the film and the SG1 TV Series – however I have zero recollection of nudity in the show so the UK must have gotten the clean version for Sunday 6pm time slot (filling in perhaps for Babylon 5 on the TV schedule). I’ve not seen all of SG1 but I did see most of it and certainly Atlantis and Universe where it is clear Shag is correct that SGU is brilliant. So while I want to ask how much nudity/sexiness they had to cut out of the show first’s two series on a purely academic level of course, honestly it doesn’t mater one bit.

    As we all know Richard Dean Anderson was cast to play the same Jack O’Neill character originated by Kurt Russell – and I think it was an inspired piece of casting. Jack O’Neill feels like a REAL solider, he’s not some awesome action star who can perform amazing feats – he is someone who has a history and sense of duty and purpose – with a mission in mind even if in the film it’s not clear his mission is a deathwish. That Russell is able to convey the change in Jack is a testament to his acting and his general likeability. You want him to succeed and you want to follow that character by the end. While of course Russell on a TV Budget wasn’t going to happen Richard Dean Anderson also has the same general likeability and the everyman aspect – even if the everyman is an above average intelligence person who happens to be in the air force.

    The film itself is pure bunkum – I know they explained why they had big flying ships AND Stargates but honestly I don’t recall the excuse and I doubt it holds up much sense. But it plays the film straight and it manages to stay on the right side of crazy theories. While Siskoid might despise Roland Emmerich I love his work because it is utter nonsense from start to finish in every film and I can enjoy the spectacle with my inner 10 year old sitting there going “Cool” at all the crazy nonsense. How Emmerich has not been taped up for a Superhero Film is beyond me. Emmerich works best with Dean Devlin in my thinking and I really hope the pair of them work together again as they seem to have been able to keep the spirit of Pulp action heroes and stories to the modern screens.

    I’ve not seen the film in ages but after listening to both Siskoid and Shag I’m going to go look it out to watch it again because it was at the time and sounds like it remains fun!

    Thanks for a great episode Siskoid – and well done to you too Shag.

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