The best Star Trek movie of all.
I recently ran across Galaxy Quest in a bargain bin the other day and I thought I’d give it a shot again. After all, I remembered liking the film the first time and it was nice to see a decent pick amongst all the odd Spanish language only films found in my area. I only realized how much I actually like it after giving the disc a spin.
If you’ve never seen Galaxy Quest, the plot is rather simple. The main characters are actors who used to be on a sci-fi television series called Galaxy Quest, which is a very thinly veiled allusion to the grand daddy of all sci-fi franchises, Star Trek. When the film begins, the glory days of the show are long over and the actors involved with it make their living appearing at fan conventions and electronics store openings. The cast members are far from being the best of friends, and their dead-end lives are wearing thin. The former “actor” who played the Commander on the show, Jason Nesmith, is approached by some real aliens who think that Galaxy Quest was a historical document. They ask Jason for help defeating a horrible enemy. The old cast-mates then finds themselves on a real spaceship facing a real, if somewhat cartoonish, enemy.
The genius of Galaxy Quest lies in a very smart script and awesome cast. Tim Allen, in one of his rare non-Santa Claus related films, nails the role of the ship’s Commander and arrogant actor in a more lovable version of the William Shatner character portrayed by William Shatner. Sigourney Weaver is Gwen DeMarco, whose job on the ship is to repeat what the computer says. Weaver is entertaining and surprisingly hot in this film. Alan Rickman doesn’t really shine until the later half of the film, but he was perfect for the part of the frustrated Shakespearian actor who is little more than a knock-off Spock character. Tony Schaloub, better known from the series Monk, plays the hilariously aloof ship’s engineer, Fred Kwan, and is pretty much gets some of the best lines.
The special effects work holds up well and that shouldn’t be that big of a surprise considering Industrial Light and Magic did the effects. Legendary creature effects master Stan Winston handled the lead bad guy design, and while it looks about as good as a rubber suit can look, it still is an imposing figure.
Despite all my gushing, Galaxy Quest isn’t entirely perfect. The ending seems to drag out a little longer than it should, and the plot element of the mysterious Omega 13 seems like it was resolved only at the last minute because the writers couldn’t think of anything better to do with it. Even with these flaws though, Galaxy Quest is still a good film and worth picking up if you run across it. It manages to poke fun at all levels of Star Trek (plus other nerdy films and shows with devoted fans) without being condescending about it. In that way it’s one of the best parody films around, without bottoming out like movies such as Date Movie and its ilk. It also has some serious stuff in there to give it a bit of a darker feel without taking itself too seriously. Can you tell I like Galaxy Quest by now?
As a DVD edition it’s starting to show its age. At the time it was a decent release, but now I expect more from a DVD. Galaxy Quest could really do with an unrated version, since it’s clear a few times that it’s been over dubbed for the PG-13 rating. The most blatant point of the film is when Sigorney Weaver is clearly mouthing, “Well fuck that!” and instead, “Well screw that!” comes out.
There is also a DTS version of this film that's available. As that's my preferred choice of sound mix, I'd rather have that, but bargain bin hunters can't be choosers... I suppose.
An Overly Critical Nerd Nitpick:: How many conventions actually have an appearance by an actor from a sci-fi series who is actually dressed up in their costume from that series? None.
Like I mentioned before, while the film has held up since its release the DVD really hasn’t. In particular the extras are a bit lacking. There are some decent motion menus, but the real meat of the extras is almost bare to the bone.
Thermian Language Track – This was listed on the DVD case, but I couldn’t find the option anywhere. Am I stupid or is it actually not on this disc?
On Location in Space – This is a typical pre-release promotional bit. There’s some okay stuff in here, but over all it’s a little more than marketing garbage.
From the Cutting Room Floor – Nice selection of cut scenes. Some of them are kind of bland and others are pretty good, except would have slowed the pace of the film a bit.
Theatrical Trailer – It’s a trailer. What more do you want?
Sneak Previews and Trailers – Step back in time with trailers for two crappy movies and Road Trip. Hey, I like Road Trip!
Cast and Crew – Argh! Filmographies!
Production Notes – More old school DVD extra filler. Blah.
Omega 13 – Now this is an odd one. It’s an option in the main menu that tells you that access is denied, because it will spoil the ending of the film. That’s all it does. Bizarre.