TW looks back at Stargate and the Children of the Gods

Everyone fell in  love with Stargate, the movie starring fan favourite Kurt Russell and James Spade in which an ancient alien device, the Stargate, a giant ring, was found in Egypt and brought to the United States for study in a secret underground base in Cheyenne Mountain. It lead Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson, brought aboard as the world’s leading expert in Egyptian mythology and a social pariah because of it, to another world where an alien named Ra is posing as a god and a world of humans in slavery. O’Neill and Jackson along with a team of marines, including Jack’s best friend Kawalsky, lead the revolt and destroy Ra by detonating a bomb in his pyramid spaceship along with his legion of Hawk masked soldiers. In the movie, Jack son had died from a gunshot would when he found his dad’s gun. His marriage had disintegrated and he was on the verge of suicide. The mission to Abydos, the enslaved world, was a one way trip for him as he was to set off the bomb. But through his new friendship with Daniel and one of the planet’s inhabitants, a young teenager called Skaara whose sister Sha’re Daniel falls in love with, Jack finds his love of life again as they battle Ra. He returns to Earth while Daniel stays behind and tells the story that the bomb has wiped everything off the face of Abydos.

However the Stargate itself was riddled with symbols that once put into certain combinations would open a wormhole to another world. The original plan was for a trilogy of movies from Independence Day’s Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich but they never happened. Instead Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner came up with a television series that would follow on from the movie. Surprisingly Emmerich and Devlin completely disassociated themselves with the television series and publicly so, which I find insulting to the guys that wanted to make something new and exciting from their work while they went off to do Godzilla and other amazing movies. (insert sarcastic tone here). Imagine what would have happened if they had added their own ideas and written scripts for the show. Oh what will never be…..Even Kurt Russell tuned up on set to meet his alter ego and it was a blast by all accounts, wish I’d been there.

Since the movie the base at Cheyenne was mothballed and the Stargate covered up with a tarp in a room. Nothing had happened since the first movie until the day a squad of alien soldiers similar to Ra’s  burst through, kill everyone and steal a female officer. Jack is recalled played by MacGyver star Richard Dean Anderson along with Kawalsky (Beauty and the Beast Jay Avocone) by new commander General Hammond (Don S Davis Twin Peaks) and the truth is revealed about what happened in the movie. Thinking Ra is still alive  they return to Abydos to find Daniel but they soon come under attack from this new enemy, Apophis (Peter Williams), who would be the main big bad for a while. A new addition to O’Neill’s team is Samantha Carter, a brilliant scientist who O’Neill isn’t too sure of at first. But as they fight for their lives, Sha’re and Skaara are captured by Apophis. It turns out Apophis and Ra and many other like them are hosts to a parasitic race called the Goa’uld who rule with fear posing as gods having kidnapped thousands of humans from Earth in the past and now have seeded the galaxy with all sorts of cultures and races from Earth as their slave force. Sha’re and Skaara are impregnated with a Goa’uld each and now Jack and Daniel are reunited in a common mission to save their loved ones and stop the Goa’uld who now have Earth in their sights. Along the way they are helped by Apophis’ main henchman Teal’c who has never been happy about his position and planet’s enslavement and wants an end to the Goa’uld rule. He joins O’Neill as part for the Stargate team when Kawalsky is taken over and killed  by  a parasite. Now Carter, O’Neill, Daniel and Teal’ lead the fight to save the galaxy. And so launched a legacy that rivalled Star Wars.

Children of the Gods was essentially the next Stargate movie and set up much of what was to come.  It featured full frontal nudity and was released as a special edition years later with added scenes. The entire mythos of the Stargate universe is set up here. The parasitic Goa’uld, the System Lords and the full potential for the Stargate itself. What makes it so spectacular is the full on effects. The Goa’uld fighter ships attacking the SGC team and a crowd of prisoners they have freed along with Teal’c's help as they flee through a forest is a astounding and CGI was limited in those days so to achieve such a sequence with physical effects was nothing short of astounding. The sets were intricate, detailed with symbols and Egyptian influences as were Apophis’s army’s uniforms. The huge flying Goa’uld Pyramid ships were always nothing short of impressive but it is the characters here that make the story even more enjoyable. Anderson imbues a Jack that has found himself again after the events of the movie. He is funny, sarcastic and always has something to say about any situation or person. But beneath the light exterior, we have a man that is determined to destroy any threat to his home. He has lost enough, been to the depths of hell and will not allow anyone else to go through the same thing. Michael Shanks is Daniel Jackson who couldn’t have nailed the character any better if he tried. There are shades of James Spade in there but Shanks makes it his own, the ultimate nerd to the world but hiding this fantastic life and fighting for the loved ones of the entire world just like Jack. Amanda Tapping is the beautiful Samantha Carter who delivers a non too subtle MacGyver joke with Anderson and quickly gains the trust of he fellow officers and finds herself in a world she had only imagined. Wormholes had only been something from Star Trek for her now she has the chance to experience it all fist hand. Teal’c is the alien for the show. Being Apophis’ former top man , he now brings a sense of danger as he is now a target and therefore puts the entire planet in danger. He carries within him a Goa’uld baby symbiant which gives him youth and immunity from illness. But it doesn’t control him but O’Neill hates to see his stomach open for it. Christopher Judge is the perfect foil for O’Neill’s wise cracking persona as Teal’c rarely smiles, rarely speaks of his emotions and is fiercely loyal to his new friends and cause. As a member of the Jaffa, Teal’c is the doorway to a previously unknown caste within the ranks of the Goa’uld’s armies and brings essential alien knowledge to the team. It is Teal’c that is assigned to murder all the prisoners along with our heroes in the prison when Skaara is dragged off to be implanted and that scene where O’Neill desperately tries to convince him he is wrong and that he can save the prisoners is electricity itself. You can see the dilemma in Judge’s face as he takes the risk to change life forever an when he delivers the line’ Many have said that but you are the first that I believe can do it!” is edge of your seat stuff and this leads to the entire forest chase scene where people are blown to bits. And it’s where the mission really begins for Jack as he comes face to face with Skaara about to enter a wormhole to begin his life as a host., That simple glowing eyes effect speaks volumes for the character and a sense of hopelessness and doom pervades. Don S Davis is also a stand out as General Hammond as he at first refuses to let Teal’c join the team until events say otherwise. But as we soon find out, Hammond has secrets of hos own where the Stargate is concerned. So here it is , ninety minutes of breathtaking action where history spun on the toss of a coin. Would this series fail like so many others or were we witnessing the beginnings of a legend? The Stargate team began fighting to save their loved ones and ended up in a battle to save the universe itself. We would get over ten years with of Stargate stories where anything could happen and we fully explored what that huge alien ring really was all about in the movie. Watch it, enjoy it, be excited by it and get ready for the ride of your life.


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