There are so many huge Kurt Russell movies, it can be hard to know where to start with his catalog. Many of the films he’s in are more action-oriented. Now, Netflix has just added Stargate, a movie from 1994 that is packed with action and sci-fi and started the franchise that has birthed many television series since. Some have called it director Roland Emmerich’s breakthrough movie. If you’ve ever thought about getting into the Stargate universe, or you’re just a fan of Kurt Russell, this classic movie is one you’ll want to check out.
The story centers around James Spader, who plays an Egyptologist, and Kurt Russell, who plays Colonel Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil. Spader is brought in to translate hieroglyphics written on tombs. When he does, he finds that they talk about a gateway to the stars. He then lines up seven markings on the stones, and the stones reveal themselves to be a teleportation device. Spader’s character is joined by Kurt Russell’s as they travel with a group through the stargate and to a desert planet that resembles ancient Egypt.
Kurt Russell’s character is the gruff colonel facing down alien threats. In the trailer, he says, “My orders were simple. Track down signs of any possible danger. Well, I found some.” He instructs the characters to do things like shoot anything that comes toward them. The character is familiar to what we’ve seen Russell do in other action movies, particularly around the early 1990s, but has the added fun of aliens.
Stargate was co-written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. During film school, Emmerich saw the documentary Chariot of the Gods. From there, he got the idea that “aliens created all civilizations”. This was the idea that eventually brought Stargate to life.
Critics had mixed opinions when this title came out. Roger Ebert was not a fan. They called it a film school exercise. Today, Rotten Tomatoes has it at a score of 53%, which isn’t great. Meanwhile, IMDb has a rating of 7.1, which is fairly solid. At the box office, Stargate did better than expected. The Kurt Russell movie had a budget of $55 million. It earned $196.6 million at the box office. Despite the mixed reviews, the movie earned over $16.5 million during its opening weekend in October 1994. At the time, this was the highest-grossing opening weekend for an October theatrical release.
While people weren’t sure what to expect before it came out, this title was the beginning of one of science fiction’s more popular universes. If you’ve ever considered diving into the Stargate universe, you could certainly start at the beginning of one of the television series. Many people begin with Stargate SG-1. The television series all have different actors, so you’re not going to be seeing Kurt Russell show up in any of them. However, if you want to see the entirety of Stargate, it really begins with the 1994 movie. Fans often recommend starting there. And now that the movie is free on Netflix in the US, it’s an easy place to start your Stargate journey.
Stargate came out during a fun period in Kurt Russell’s career. By 1994, we’d already seen him in 1981’s Escape from New York, 1986’s Big Trouble in Little China, 1987’s Overboard, 1992’s Captain Ron, and 1993’s Tombstone where he played Wyatt Earp. He was an actor being seen frequently on the screen, often in movies we still know today. More recently, we’ve seen him in the Quentin Tarantino movies Grindhouse, The Hateful Eight, and Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood. He joined the Fast & Furious franchise as Mr. Nobody. And, of course, he joined Marvel as Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
But will we ever see Kurt Russell in a Stargate production again? Hopefully. Over the years, Stargate has seen multiple television series, made-for-television movies, and comic books. Recently, we’ve heard that the studio is looking to bring Stargate back to the big screen. Even all these years later, Kurt Russell is still acting and has a respectable career. It makes sense that if the studio were to bring Stargate back to the movie screen, they’d want to bring Russell in to play the Colonel again.
In the meanwhile, there is certainly plenty in the Stargate universe to check out. The 1994 movie is the perfect place to start, especially with it now being available on Netflix.