Time flies. It’s hard to believe Galaxy Quest is twenty years old. Until the other day, I hadn’t watched it in nearly a decade. Galaxy Quest is still one of the greatest sci-fi comedies ever made. To call it a simple spoof of Star Trek is belittling. Written by David Howard and Robert Gordon and directed by Dean Parisot, the film has a lot of fun pointing out the sillier elements of Trekkie fandom, it never disparages them. In fact, the filmmakers pay homage to the series and the genre as a form of entertainment that has the power to bring people together in a way few others can.
The premise is a simple one: what would happen if an alien race mistook episodes of Star Trek for actual historical documents and then tried to form a civilization based on them? And what if they came to earth seeking the help of the Star Trek actors, thinking they were actual space explorers? There’s no direct mention of Star Trek. Instead, it’s a cheesy early 1980’s show called Galaxy Quest. Years after being canceled, the show still has a loyal fan base that turns up for yearly conventions, dress up as the characters and spend hours discussing minute details of every episode. While it’s nice to be remembered so fondly, the actors haven’t been able to establish any credibility outside of Galaxy Quest and are forced to make personal appearances and bad commercials to make ends meet. Galaxy Quest star Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen, The Santa Clause) who played Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, gets totally depressed when he overhears fans making fun of him in the bathroom at a convention.
The next morning Jason is visited by a group of real aliens with a leader named Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni) who asks him to help them save their world from a warlord named Sarris (Robin Sachs) The aliens have apparently received transmissions of Galaxy Quest and believe they are historical documents. As a result, they have built a full working model of the ship based on what they’ve seen on the show. Initially, Jason thinks this is all just another personal appearance; that is, until they beam him up to the ship.
After much cajoling, Jason is able to convince the rest of the cast to join him on the mission: Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), a British actor who played Dr. Lazarus, and Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver, Avatar), the buxom actress who played the wonderfully named Lt. Tawny Madison, the TV show’s T&A factor–are fed up and bored with the rabid fandom in which they have been imprisoned. Alexander bemoans the fact that he once played Richard III on-stage while Gwen gripes that she still isn’t sure what her role on the show was (she repeated everything the computer said–her main purpose, of course, was to wear low-cut spacesuits), heavily medicated Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) and former child star Tommy Webber (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell). Along for the ride is Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell), who has made a career out of his brief appearance as nameless Crewman #6.
The superb cast is aided by a script full of hilariously quotable lines, all of which fit seamlessly with the storyline, lending realism to this sci-fi comedy that’s necessary to make it a great film. You can laugh out loud as Rockwell pulls off yet another brilliant one-liner, only to be smacked with emotion as Colantoni’s alien leader sees the ideals he built his life around get smashed before him. The believability is only enhanced by design and special effects work that is simply great, including fantastic sets and space vistas, some excellent CG animation and impressive animatronics and make-up.
Star Trek fans won’t miss the familiar references to that series, but Galaxy Quest also works on its own merits. The characters are given a believable story within unbelievable circumstances. Through the course of the film, each of the actors behind the successful ’80’s sitcom that is portrayed gets a chance to play a real hero of sorts, learning the true meaning of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart’s catch phrase, “Never give up, never surrender.”
This appears to be the same transfer as was used for the 2009 Blu-ray release. Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the image is clean throughout, but a few opening shots look undeniably soft. Colors don’t exactly pop, but saturation is decent enough. There are brief aliasing issues in a couple of scenes and some mild digital noise, but considering this is a ten-year old transfer, it’s held up pretty well.
As with the transfer, the 5.1 Dolby True HD soundtrack remains the same. Initially front heavy, the track opens up nicely after the first few minutes. The majestic, brassy score has some nice flourishes from left, right and center. The space battles have also been designed with a 360-degree field in mind. Bass isn’t super heavy, but within an acceptable range. The dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.
English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles are included.
The extras have been ported over from the previous Blu-ray release as well. The only real difference is that this Blu-ray is a steelbook collector’s edition packaging that is only available at Best Buy. If you’re a steelbook collector, or don’t own Galaxy Quest on Blu-ray yet, this is a wonderful edition to have. For the rest of you, let’s hope Paramount puts this one on 4K soon!
- Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest (18 min) – a retrospective featurette about the making of the film and how those involved feel about the film almost a decade later. There are some interesting bits of info about the origin film, including notes about the movie’s original concept, as well as interviews with Allen, Rickman, Weaver, Shaloub, Rockwell, Mitchell, Colantoni, Pyle and Long, as well as director Dean Parisot, producer Mark Johnson and writers David Howard and Bob Gordon.
- Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector (23:21). You get real insight on the cast and their roles, thanks to them talking mostly about each other rather than their own experiences. The conversations are so genuine and heartfelt that you can’t help but smile watching them, especially when Colantoni talks about how Shaloub found his character. The new interviews are supplemented with clips from 1999 sit-downs, adding some retro-perspective.
- By Grabthar’s Hammer, What Amazing Effects (7 Min) Devoted to the film’s special effects, provided by Stan Winston and Industrial Light and Magic. Much of the interviews here are from 1999.
- Alien School: Creating the Thermian Race (5:22) Developing the good aliens in the film, divulging how much influence Colantoni had on the Thermian concept, and how the actors helped sculpt this race on the set. This featurette, along with “Never Give Up, Never Surrender” and the following six-minute “Actors in Space” point out just how much this film is an actor’s film. “Actors in Space”, talks about the idea of the movie being about acting than much as anything else, with interviews with the cast.
- Sigourney Weaver Raps: Opens with Weaver explaining that she wanted to make a birthday present for her agent and employed the help of her co-star (and real-life rapper) Daryl “Chill” Mitchell. Shot on video, it features Weaver (“Siggy Blond Sig”) accompanied by Mitchell, Rockwell and Pyle on the set of the film. Yes, she raps. Yes, it’s just as woeful and wonderful as it sounds.
- Deleted Scenes: Eight in all. They are “Tech Talk with Sergeant Chen,” “Alex Tours His ‘Personalized’ ” (available with a brief intro), “A Running Spat Between Old Flames,” “Guy Gets Attacked,” “Alex’s Motivational Speech,” “Gwen Saves the Day,” “The Crew vs. Sarris” and “Sweet Serenity at Last” (which also features an intro longer than the scene itself).
- Galactopedia: Onscreen information about characters, ships, aliens and more.
- Theatrical Trailer
Galaxy Quest (2009)
Movie title: Galaxy Quest
Director(s): Dean Parisot
Actor(s): Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman , Tony Shalhoub , Sam Rockwell , Daryl Mitchell
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Comedy, Action