Galaxy Quest is an odd movie. It opened on Christmas Day of 1999 and did alright in the box office gathering roughly 71 million and some change. It was one of those movies that you went to go see and would laugh a lot but wouldn’t tell anybody in fear of people making fun of you. So it did respectable sales, but nobody knew the full potential of the movie until it hit the video format. The movie found a considerable audience and after many years, the movie holds up. Possibly better than it ever did nine years ago in a tiny theater. Now, with the release of a deluxe edition many years later, the movie can reach new audiences. Hopefully, they will be able to appreciate it as much as I did.
Once upon a time, Galaxy Quest was an entertaining space drama. It lasted only four seasons but found an audience that lasted many years later. The cast however has for the most part not been able to find reasonable work, reduced to conventions and lowly promotional work. There is Gwen DeMarco (played by Sigourney Weaver in a blonde wig) who played Tawny, the Computer Officer of the Protector and served as the beauty on the ship. Alexander Dane (played by Alan Rickman) plays Dr. Lazarus serves as the resident Spock/intelligent alien and is positively sick of his catchphrase (By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!).
Then there is Jason Nesmith (played by Tim Allen) who played Commander Peter Quincy Taggart. Jason rose to the most fame of the space crew and basks in the glory of his early day stardom. The crew finds themselves at a convention where they are the main attraction. Jason shows up fashionably late and is scolded by his crewmates. They go on to do the show and inevitable after show autograph session. After Jason excuses himself to go the bathroom, he hears a couple of fans going on about how pathetic they think he is from a nearby stall.
He goes back to his autograph desk where he signs a bunch of 8 x 10’s like he’s in an assembly line. He ignores devoted fans and even ignores a group of aliens known as Thermians since he dismissed them as obsessed fans and not the real thing. Jason spends the rest of the night drinking himself into a stupor. He wakes up to the sound of tapping on his glass door. It’s the Thermians from the convention and they feel blessed to be in his presence and request they join them aboard their spaceship. Jason, mistakenly thinking that this is a gig, decides to join them (still well hung over).
Once Jason is aboard the spaceship, he goes through the motions as he assumes he is part of an amateur episode of Galaxy Quest. He acts as the commander of the ship and even tells the Thermian race to fire upon their mortal enemy: Sarris (played by Robin Sachs), a reptilian humanoid warlord in a negotiation. Jason then asks if he can go home. The Thermians oblige as they send him home in a gelatinous pod. Upon re-entry into Earth, the commander realizes this is very real and alerts the other cast mates of his astonishing discovery.
The cast mates are not sure what to make of it and simply think that he is drunk and is hallucinating. However, they decide to join him anyway when they think it is for a gig. But as with Jason, once they get on board of the ship, they realize it is very real and that the Thermians think that they are really a space crew that can help them. From studying the “historical documents” (television episodes), they have modeled their ship down to the smallest detail after the series. Even the mysterious Omega 13 (which Sarris wants). Somehow, the crew of Galaxy Quest must figure out how to act like a real space crew and save the Thermian Race from the clutches of the evil Sarris.
One of the great things about some movies almost ten years later is how many different personalities can fit inside these films. There is Tim Allen, Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver. But in addition to those main actors, there are a good variety of actors who used this film as a pilot for their success. There is Justin Long who plays Brandon. You might know him as Mac Guy or from Dodgeball. There is Tony Shalhoub who plays Fred Kwan, the ship’s engineer. Mr. Monk plays a burn-out actor who falls for an alien. Awesome. Sam Rockwell plays the role of Guy Fleegman who was only in Galaxy Quest for one episode and spends the entire movie wondering how he is going to get killed. He’s gone on to do a ton of movies, both big budget and independent. He was even up for the role of Iron Man before losing it to Robert Downey Jr.
The cast of actors and actresses are simply brilliant in the film. They play the roles completely straight and deliver the biggest laughs in the process. The film works so impressively because it isn’t a spoof. It’s a parody, it’s a satire, and it is a good old-fashioned drama rolled into one movie. The acting is top notch and the effects make it look a lot more than the mere $45 million dollar budget it got rolled into. There is very little to complain about in this movie and any actual issue I have the movie is picky at best.
The film is presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The movie looks about as good as it did back in 1999. The colors are solid and everybody looks good (especially Sigourney who looks really good as a blonde, call me surprised). The effects look great and a lot of care was taken to make it looks as real as possible.
The audio is provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Spanish. Once upon a time, there was a DTS track provided as a separate edition since back in 1999, not everybody had a DTS capable receiver. But unfortunately the original 5.1 DD track is the only one that made it to the deluxe edition. The surrounds are decent but a good portion of it is dialog driven. There are some explosions but you just feel like something is missing. Subtitles are also provided in English, Spanish and French.
- Historical Documents – The Story of Galaxy Quest 18:13: This serves as the behind the scenes featurette with major input from the screenwriter: Bob Gordon & director: Dean Parisot. Also worthy of note is the inclusion of all of the major stars from the film in recent interview. Some have grown up (Justin Long & Daryl Mitchell), some have aged (Alan Rickman & Sigourney Weaver) and some look the beeping same (Tim Allen).
- Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector 23:24 This featurette goes into the characters of the movie, again with a good wealth of recent interviews. Also included in this one is footage from 1999 which looks incredibly dated now.
- By Grabthar’s Hammer: What Amazing Effects 7:02: This featurette goes over makeup effects as well as how they did some of the special effects. The makeup techniques were awesome even when compared to today’s standards. Sarris looks amazing and they go into how makeup artists and the actor Robin Sachs put it all together. They also explained how they didn’t cut corners and that effects like the spaceship rocking back and forth was actually the whole set movie, not fancy camera tricks. I only wish they would have explained more of the CGI as that was overlooked a bit.
- Alien School: Creating the Thermian Race 5:22: This short featurette goes over how the Thermian Race came to be. We find that even though the idea came from the director and screenwriter, it was really created as the mindchild of Enrico Colantoni who played Mathesar. The people who played the Thermians literally went to training to get down the walk and the talk.
- Actors in Space 6:10: This interesting featurette goes over the concept how actors really live out their characters in long-running television series. Some people never let go and are forced to re-live a famous character whether they like it or not. It’s done humorously naturally but its funny to hear people like Justin Long refer to himself as the Mac Guy or Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.
- Sigourney Weaver Raps 1:59: This was apparently something Sigourney did for Sam Rockwell’s birthday as it is labeled Sam’s Rap Song. Awesome funny stuff, immediate respect for Sigourney. I took her for stuck up, but she’s far from it as shown from the rap and the interview segments (and still beautiful).
- Deleted Scenes 11:58: Eight deleted scenes and even a couple with intros. Mostly good stuff, I wouldn’t have minded it one bit if some of it made its way to a director’s cut someday.
- Thermian Audio Track: *sigh*, the Thermian track. They could have replaced this old featurette with a commentary and I would have been a very happy man. It’s what you think, a bunch of clicking and alien sounds for the entire film. Cute for about 5 minutes, then you want to impale yourself with a rusty blunt object.
- Theatrical Trailer 1:53: The original theatrical trailer, it does the job and does include some footage that wasn’t in the film. Good for nostalgia.
- Previews: Star Trek, Star Trek-Original Series, & Star Trek – Movie Collection.(Go figure, Star Trek trailers on a movie that plays out like a homage and a satire of the series)
Galaxy Quest is a fine movie. I had seen it when it first arrived on dvd and a couple of times shortly after that. I wasn’t sure it would hold up. A little nagging part of me almost didn’t want to watch it in fear of not laughing at the same bits I did. I laughed at those bits. I laughed at new bits I hadn’t noticed before. This is one of the most brilliant comedies in the last ten years. The cast is fantastic and the acting is just as good. The disc is also pretty decent with a very good video and audio and all the extras you can think that doesn’t involve a cast commentary. My only gripe is the lack of the DTS track which exists in a prior edition. I look forward to the inevitable blu-ray version which better include a DTS master track or else By Grabthar’s hammer….oh nevermind, you know the rest. Highly recommended.