The plot. This is a story about an egyptologist, Dr. Daniel Jackson, who has some revolutionary ideas about the pyramids that nobody wants to believe. He is then taken to a secret military compound to decipher some Egyptian. There he finds out that some of the symbols are actually indexes to points in outer space. He then finds out that a weird round gate has been dug up in Egypt and is there, already functional, just missing the address. With the help of Jackson, the gate is opened and he is sent through with a team of military personnel lead by Colonel Jack O'Neil. After going through the gate, the team meets some people who have been living on that planet for a long time, mining resources for the original Egyptian god of sun, Ra.
General thoughts. This is the one that started the whole Stargate franchise.
First of all, this movie is quite nice. It's not really that magnificent, but given that it's from 1994, there's not much to expect, really. This was really weird to watch, since right now the Stargate franchise has had two series, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis, a bunch of movies and right now there's also Stargate: Universe, which I've been watching with great interest.
There is a lot of the original story that has been thrown out of the window to produce the series. Before watching this movie, I watched the pilot episodes of Stargate SG-1, which is supposedly the story that happens a few years after this one. Also note that the actor who played Skaara, Alexis Cruz, is one of the actors who appears in the original movie and in SG-1 as the same character. The rest of the cast has been changed.
I personally don't think you can compare the Jack O'Neill of Richard Dean Anderson with Jack O'Neil of Kurt Russel. Richard Dean Anderson has always been more of a ironic funny type of actor, when Kurt Russel's Jack O'Neil is a jock bad-ass with a bad attitude and a melancholic personality. Some would say that Anderson ruined O'Neill, but I wouldn't have had much interest in Stargate SG-1 if it had Russel instead of Anderson. I mean, come on, it's MacGyver we're talking about here. Speaking of MacGyver, there was a quote in SG-1's pilot, where Amanda Tapping as Carter said something in the lines of "you can't just MacGyver this together". Be it said that Richard Dean Anderson spent 7 years being MacGyver, but just the SG-1 series ran for ten years and Richard Dean Anderson is still occasionally appearing on Stargate: Universe. But I digress.
As I already mentioned, a lot of the stuff from the original movie has been forgotten. For instance, the material that the Stargate was constructed from was supposedly mined from that planet. Chances are, that there are more than one planet that had that metal and even that these stargates were built by someone else, but according to the lore of Stargate: Universe, the gates were built by an ancient race, that disappeared long before man came along, leaving behind a vast array of different advanced technology, the most important of those being the stargate.
Another quite important fact is that the movie described the seventh sign as a point of origin of the signal, meaning that for every planet, the seventh symbol in the address would have to be different. In the SG-1 and all other series, every stargate had a specific address, which was dialed from earth and you could simply dial back without ever having to look for the local symbol. This made writing new planets much easier, of course, but sortof messes with the original story a little bit.
Another thing that bothered me a lot was that back on earth, the team of scientists couldn't make the gate work, but were somehow managed to build equipment that would run the gate, dial the symbols and even show the decomposition of the things sent through the gate, not to mention the exact destination on a weird glass two-dimensional map of the sky.
All things considered, this was still quite an achievement. Certainly something new and different.
I don't think Roland Emmerich thought that this simple little sci-fi movie could turn out to become one of the largest Sci-Fi series ever, with 3 different related series showing for over fifteen years. For that contribution to the Sci-fi world, we thank him.