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Cutting edge technology has always been tied closely to entertainment. This typically resulted in some artistic expression that would be able to showcase the latest technological advances. No sooner that the means to add sound to movies became available in 1929 the first ‘Jazz Singer’ hit the theaters. About a decade later color was being introduced and audiences were wowed when Dorothy opened the door to her Kansas frame house and step out of black and white into the Technicolor world of Oz. just as that film helped to sell tickets other movies had been vitally important in new technological advances becoming widely accepted. In the mid nineties the video tape recorder was posed to become replaced by the advent of the digital age with the laser disc player. Although it never really caught on for various reasons that are beyond the scope of this consideration one film was frequently used by sales people and proud new owners to show off the quantum leap in audio and video; ‘Stargate’. It received somewhat mixed reviews and was on its way to becoming another Sci-Fi cult classic except for the spectacular visual effects and awesome six channel soundstage. The technical wonders of this flick made it a natural to demonstrate the new laser disc players and eventually became a favorite of the proud new owners of DVDs. This may be one of the first films to hit the new technology trifecta with the new 15th anniversary high definition Blu -ray release. Largely because of this ‘Stargate’ is the kind of movie that fans tend to have multiple copies of in their collections, I know I have the P&S and letterbox VHS tape, the standard DVD and know the Blu-ray. Not only is it still a great showcase flick but the movie has gone on to spawn one of that most successful and longest lasting Sci-Fi franchises on television. Even after all those variations and many incarnations the tale still remains great entertainment and has risen to the ranks of science fiction classic.

The film was directed and co-written by a man with a proven track record in high octane science fiction; Roland Emmerich. He was responsible for such mega hits as ‘Independence Day’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. All of his movies are near perfect blends of Sci-fi, action, character driven drama with just the right touch of humor to keep things light. Everything that any hard core fan of the genre will find everything you could possibly want out of a film right here. Unless you have been living off-world without the co-ordinates to dial home you already know the story here. In 1926 an archaeological dig in Egypt uncovered a strange ring made from an unknown metal. The writing remained a mystery until the modern day when Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader), a scientist discredited by the established members of his field, is called on to work on a top secret military project. Also called in by the Pentagon is Col. Jonathan Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell) who had been in retirement since the tragic death of his son. Jackson discovers the code to activate the Stargate and the team travel in the blink of an eye to a planet on the other side of the galaxy. There they find humans enslaved by a powerful race of parasitic aliens posing as gods.

I’m sure many may feel that some of the special effects could be done better now and perhaps they are correct. Still, the film holds up amazingly well, the new high def treatment breathes new life into this favorite movie. The most frequent scene used to demonstrate equipment is the team’s passage through the gate’s worm hole. In 1080p with a modern plasma television it is like seeing it for the first time. It was simply incredible as the rapidoly moving shapes and colors appear without the slightest hint of artifact or defect. The audio has been re-mastered in lossless : DTS-HD MA 7.1 providing the richest sound field this sconce has ever enjoyed. The addition of the new supplementary surround speakers fill out the feel of the effect giving you the experience of being pulled into the swirling vortex. The sub woofer is much more active than previous editions. This is also quite evident in the aerial combat shots. Not only does the fast pace action come across clearer than ever but the room shakes as the sub woofer sounds out with the explosions. Adding to the enjoyment is the full complement of extras that dissect the entire production. Even if you shave a previous version of this you will want to get this release.

New Deciphering The Gate: Concepts And Casting
New Opening The Gate: The Making Of
New Passing Through The Gate: The Legacy
New Never Before Seen Gag Reel
New Master Of The Stargate: Interactive Trivia Challenge
New BonusView Picture-In-Picture Ultimate Knowledge
Is There a Stargate?
The Making Of Documentary
Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Roland Emmerich And Writer/Producer Dean Devlin.

Posted 11/02/09

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