In the late 1920's an ancient interstellar device, a Stargate, is discovered by an archeological team. In the present day (1994) a linguist, Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader), is brought in to decipher a huge stone tablet that's kept at a hidden government facility. It turns out it's not a language but a star chart. When the Stargate opens a wormhole portal to another world a team is assembled. Jackson is sent to make sure they can read the hieroglyphics of the Stargate on the way back. But Colonel O'Neil (Kurt Russell) has another agenda--to blow up the Stargate with a nuclear bomb and prevent a possible invasion on Earth.
However, they come across a planet inhabited by humans, who were taken there, as slaves, thousands of years ago. They mine the metal of the Stargates for the god, Ra (Jaye Davidson). He's an alien who has inhabited the body of a human, and has a whole entourage of warrior servants who are dressed like the ancient Egyptian gods.
Spader falls for a woman, Sha'uri, who is the daughter of the people's leader, Kasuf (Erick Avari of PLANET OF THE APES, DAREDEVIL). Kasuf's son, with the help of the few American soldiers that survive, becomes leader of the resistance to fight Ra's hold over them.
I've always liked this movie and it holds up well over time. However, I detest the STARGATE SG-1 television series that followed a few years later. While Michael Shanks did a good enough job in the original Spader role, it was a horrible mistake to cast McGyver as O'Neil.