“Stargate” opens with two prologues: First, we’re in ancient Egypt as a vast pyramid-shaped UFO descends from the sky and abducts a curious young tribesman (Dax Biagas). Next, it’s 1928, and an archaeologist and his team have unearthed a remarkable find; cover stones with mysterious hieroglyphics protecting the Stargate, a large metal ring engraved with strange symbols.
In the present day, Dr. Catherine Langford (Viveca Lindfors), whose father discovered the items, invites Egyptologist and linguist Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) to take a look at the artifacts, which are now part of a top-secret project. Keeping a close eye on their progress is Special Operations Colonel Jack O’Neill (Kurt Russell).
Jackson deciphers the symbols with frankly ridiculous ease and they fire up the Stargate, opening a wormhole to a distant planet. He then joins O’Neill and his team of commandos to investigate whatever is on the other side, emerging in a desert temple beneath a pyramid. The snag is that the symbols needed to re-open the gate are missing, prompting O’Neill to ready his secondary objective: destroy the Stargate with a nuke if things don’t go well.
The team discovers a tribe of slaves who speak a dialect of Ancient Egyptian and seem like a friendly bunch. Jackson is able to communicate and figure out their back story. Thousands of years ago, an alien posing as the Sun God Ra (Jaye Davidson) kidnapped a bunch of humans from Earth and set them to work on this planet, harvesting materials to give him everlasting life.
When Ra’s guards capture the team and discover the bomb, he plans to send it back to Earth to destroy the civilization he created there. Meanwhile, the slaves are preparing to rebel against their overlords and help save the day.