Roland Emmerich has made some fairly silly sci-fi films ("Independence Day," "Godzilla") so it's not surprising that his breakout hit is the silliest of them all. "Stargate," starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, uses a pretty common plot device - the mysterious portal to elsewhere:
All in all, it's a popcorn flick that uses special effects and somewhat bland action sequences to cover for the paper-thin plot. The best part of the movie is the luxuriant score by David Arnold, which manages to channel John Williams and Maurice Jarre at the same time (it also makes for pretty good tabletop RPG background music). Coming in second place is a decidedly likable James Spader, in one of his few non-creepy performances. Finally, we have Kurt Russell's turn as Col. O'Neil - this is merely one of many of Russell's tough-guy-with-a-problem characters, but he still does an okay job with the flimsy material he's been given.
No review of "Stargate" would be complete without mentioning the many, many spinoffs of the film, including the long-running TV series starring MacGyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson. I never got into SG-1, but I know a lot of people who did. In that respect, I guess it's fair to say that the original film's conceit, while wedded to a mediocre sci-fi B-movie, had some legs after all.
Rating: 6/10 (mostly for the score)