Stargate on PAL Laserdisc

Dom Robinson reviews

Distributed by
Pioneer LDCE


  • PDFM 60002
  • Cert: PG
  • Running time: 116 minutes
  • Year: 1994
  • Pressing: 1998
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 18 plus extras
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 & MPEG1 Stereo Surround
  • Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish,Danish, Norwegian
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1
  • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Price: £19.99
  • Extras : Scene index.


      Roland Emmerich

    (Godzilla, Independence Day, Universal Soldier)


    Joel B. Michaels, Oliver Eberle, Dean Devlin


    Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich


    David Arnold

(The Young Americans)


    Colonel Jack O’Neill: Kurt Russell (Backdraft, The Best Of Times, Breakdown, Big Trouble In Little China, Escape From L.A., Escape From New York, Executive Decision, Overboard, Silkwood, Tango And Cash, Tequila Sunrise, The Thing, Tombstone,Unlawful Entry)
    Dr. Daniel Jackson: James Spader (Baby Boom, Crash, Dream Lover, Less Than Zero, Mannequin, Pretty In Pink, The Rachel Papers, True Colors, Two Days In The Valley, Wall Street, White Palace, Wolf)
    Ra: Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game)
    Catherine: Viveca Lindfors (The Adventures of Don Juan, Exiled, King Of Kings, The Sure Thing, Zandalee)
    Skaara: Alexis Cruz (Price Of Love, TV: “Stargate SG-1”)
    Sha’liri: Mili Avital (Invasion of Privacy)
    General W.O. West: Leon Rippy (Fixing The Shadow)
    Lieutenant Kawalsky: John Diehl (Casualties, The Grave, Mind Ripper, Motorama)

Stargateis the name given to a mysterious circular item found in Egypteighty years ago and witnessed by a young girl called Catherine. In the presentday the government still haven’t figured out how it works, that is untilreluctant expert Dr. Daniel Jackson has a look at the new-found discovery.

He deciphers the seventh and final code necessary to activate the phenomenon,allowing anyone or anything to cross through time and space to another pointin the galaxy. Teaming up with an army team led by Col. Jack O’Neill who hashis own troubles – his son shot himself dead accidentally, they set off toexplore what’s on the other side, finding an enslaved tribe held under thecontrol of an evil God, Ra.

At the start of the expedition, O’Neill and Jackson are on opposing sides,mentally, especially since O’Neill’s orders are to make sure those on the otherside can cause no harm towards the people of Earth, but once they find theircommon goal it forces them to overcome their differences and find a way todefeat Ra.

The two main characters played by Kurt Russell and James Spaderspar well together. Russell is more used to action/adventure films havingbeen through Backdraft, Escape From L.A., Escape From New York, ExecutiveDecision and Tango And Cash. Spader on the other hand has usuallytaken the more arthouse/low-budget route through Hollywood recently. Startingin comedies such as Mannequin and Pretty In Pink, he went ontothe dramas White Palace and Two Days In The Valley, beforeCrash-ing into controversy with the censorship board last year.

Jaye Davidson is best known as Dil from The Crying Game, but Iwon’t spoil the ‘surprise’ of that film for you if you haven’t seen it. Out ofthe entire cast though, Alexis Cruz, as the young boy Skaara, is the onlymember to appear in the spin-off television series “Stargate SG-1”.

The picture quality looks perfect for bright outdoor scenes, but try toreplicate this for browns, greys and black areas and it runs into problemswith motion artifacts available for all to see, despite having a very highaverage bitrate of 8.27Mb/s. The film is presented in its original widescreenratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for 16:9 widescreen televisions – thus allowingfor higher resolution.

The sound comes in two formats for the English language: Dolby Surround MPEG 1and Dolby Digital 5.1. For a special effects film, expect the usual whizz-bangexplosions usually associated with a Devlin/Emmerich production nicelyrepresented here, not to mention the fact that your room will vibrate when theStargate powers up for the first time! I don’t have a DD 5.1 amp, so cannotcompare the sound produced by this disc, but if it’s no different to thatexperienced in the cinema, this will prove a real treat.

Extras : Chapters :There are 18 chapters spread throughout the 116 mins of the film although itcould use more. Languages/Subtitles :There’s a wealth of both attractions on this disc.

English is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround MPEG 1, butFrench, German, Spanish and Italian are only available in Dolby Surround MPEG 1.

Subtitles come in nine formats: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian,Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian

Menu :The interactive menu works very well and just dragging the mouse pointer overan option highlights it.

The main menu doesn’t come up first though. You have to sit through a briefcopyright warning, the usual Pioneer introduction, plus the Dolby Digital”Egypt” intro – quite appropriate here considering where the film begins (worthwatching if you haven’t seen it before, but afterwards you just want to skippast it).

Then a computer graphic appears showing a swirling ‘Stargate’. It stops, threesymbols appear one after another, followed by three white strips on which thewords “Play”, “Chapters” and “Languages” appear. However, why does the screenneed to blank before the lettering appears? It looks like someone’s made amistake with this and it spoils the effect.

Overall this is a very good sci-fi adventure film which laid the path for thecontinuing story in the television series, Stargate SG-1, which has beenshown on Sky Television and was based on the belief that there isn’t just oneStargate out there but many.

The series began promisingly with stories along the lines of Daniel’sgirlfriend, Sha’liri, being abducted by the enemy and bad guys storming throughthe gate and straight into the government compound, but soon turned into aQuantum Leap-style show in which the good guys would solve a problem inone episode and teleport to another world for the next episode which wouldfollow along similar lines. I watched a few episodes of it, but you begin torealise that life cannot go back to normal for any of the crew otherwise itwould bring the series to an end (!)

Given that this film has been released in a 131-minute Director’s Cut onNTSC Laserdisc, this is rather a missed opportunity especially with its completelack of extras, but for fans of the film who don’t own the PAL Laserdisc thisis worth a look.


Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 1998.

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