Before you ask: I had my reasons! I watched the film Stargate this evening. And I was really impressed with the first half. Other than that the film encourages people to believe Erich von Däniken‘s silly claims about ancient astronauts, it is impressive. There are two very compelling character arcs. James Spader is searching for the family he’s never had (and a steady job). Kurt Russell is trying to get over the death of his son. These two things are handled really well.
And then the shooting begins. Basically, the second half of the film is just action. And all action films have to have the same bullshit. James Spader goes from a clumsy nerd to a gun toting stud; as does his “wife”; as do all the local kids who have never even seen guns before. The villain acts stupidly just to allow the heroes to get away—repeatedly, but especially when Spader is supposed to publicly execute his comrades. The badass hero has to spout “clever” lines right before he kills a bad guy, “Give my regards to King Tut, asshole.” (Do people like these kinds of things? They just embarrass me.) In other words, all the intelligence that the screenwriters showed in the first half of the film leaves in the second half.
Another problem with these kinds of action movies is the conservative rhetoric that gets spouted. “Father, we will not live as slaves!” I’m at least as much against living as slaves as anyone else. But there is a subtext here that I find disturbing. Such statements are distinctly jingoistic. They imply that slavery is something you have if you are peaceful and freedom is something you have if you kill people.
As action films go, Stargate is quite good. You get a whole half of a movie that doesn’t totally suck. Then you get another half that doesn’t suck any more than most action films. So there’s that. Of course, you could just watch Johnny Got His Gun.