- Dean Parisot Producer - Mark Johnson Starring - Tim Allen Sigourney Weaver Alan Rickman Tony Shalhoub Filmed - America, 1999 DVD by - DreamWorks Pictures
This Fine Ship, This Fine Crew
During the early 1980s Commander Peter Quincy Taggart and his crew voyaged amongst the stars in the NSEA Protector. Then their TV series was cancelled, and the actors found themselves reduced to making endless appearances at conventions, surrounded by fans wanting to get autographs and ask obscure questions about the series. "These guys haven't had a real acting job for 20 years, this is all they've got".
Until one day a group of aliens called Thermians turn up. With an almost child-like innocence and no understanding of fiction, they believe that the episodes of the Galaxy Quest TV show that they have intercepted were in fact "historical documents". Their entire society has been based around the ideals seen in Galaxy Quest, and with a crisis looming they have come to find the great Commander Taggart to save them. There is just one slight problem - Commander Taggart is actually a washed up actor called Jason Nesmith, played by Tim Allen.
Nesmith is soon joined by the rest of his "crew" aboard the replica of the Protector that the Thermians have constructed. British classical actor Sir Alexander Dane (played by Alan Rickman) takes on the role of Dr Lazarus, an alien with a purple prosthetic head-piece whose most memorable line is "by Grabthar's hammer, you will be avenged". Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) is the blond-haired bimbo Lieutenant Tawny Madison, whose only jobs are to look sexy and repeat everything that the computer says, while Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) plays the ship's top engineer Tech Sergeant Chen, and Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) appears as the pilot Laredo. Also along for the ride is Guy (Sam Rockwell), who played Crewman Number 6 in episode 81.
Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
As you may have guessed by now, Galaxy Quest is a parody of Star Trek, and as such certain truths are accepted. The captain must always lose his shirt in a fight, every alien planet has an Earth-like atmosphere, the good guys always win, and any crewman who isn't a member of the regular cast may be killed at any moment. As such Guy goes through most of the film in a permanent state of paranoia; after all, "I'm just crewman number 6, I'm the guy who dies to prove the situation is serious".
The real moments of genius come when these rules are turned on their heads though. The actors try to fit back into the roles that they played twenty years ago, but the illusion is somewhat undermined by the constant bickering that goes on between them, a far cry from the clean-cut idealistic world of Galaxy Quest. And this time they have a real ship at their command, with real lives on the line. When an encounter with the evil alien warlord Sarris turns into a fiasco ("there's a red thingy moving toward the green thingy .. I think we're the green thingy") even the egotistical Nesmith begins to realise that the actors are in over their heads.
Their only chance of survival is to repair the damage to the Protector and defeat Sarris, but to do this they must work together as a team and try to live up to their roles in Galaxy Quest. Positive life-affirming stuff then, but with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour thrown in to keep you laughing throughout.
Phasers To Stun
While the clips of the Galaxy Quest TV show that you see are suitably tacky, with true Star Trek style plyboard sets, dodgy acting and cardboard special effects, the movie itself is a whole different kettle of fish.
The script is excellent and manages to be painfully close to the bone yet essentially good-natured and respectful in its ribbing of Star Trek, with some great throw-away humour and memorable one-liners. The acting is perfect for the rather silly mood of the film, and everybody seems to be having a great time, particularly Sigourney Weaver, who positively throws herself into the role of blond bombshell Tawny Madison - it's certainly a far cry from her work on the rather more serious "Alien" movies...
It's not just the actors that put in solid performances though - the CGI special effects provided by Industrial Light & Magic are little short of stunning, and the lumbering rock monster is both ominous and ridiculous in equal measures. The movie also features some of the most spectacular space scenes we have ever seen on the big screen, ironically putting even the likes of "Star Trek Insurrection" to shame.
The Region 1 DVD is truly excellent, with near faultless sound and picture quality, and some beautiful animated menus featuring a mixture of footage from the film, CGI rendered scenes, and funny little clips of the aliens goofing about.
There is also an impressive collection of extra features. First up is "From The Cutting Room Floor", a collection of seven extended versions of scenes which were cut in the final movie, including an amusing addition to the rock monster scene in which Alan Rickman's character tries to use method acting skills to determine the motivation of the creature. His conclusion? "I must crush the thing that makes the vibrations". Other highlights include Fred Kwan bluffing his way through a blizzard of techno-babble with the Thermian engineering team, and Gwen DeMarco using her rather ample "assets" to dispose of a pair of hostile aliens in the reactor room.
Also included are cast and crew biographies, theatrical trailers for Galaxy Quest and other movies, and the production notes which can also be found in the single spread booklet that comes with the disc. There's even an amusing Thermian language audio track in full Dolby 2.0, which mostly consists of ear-piercing squeaks and croaks. No, really. Finally there is a short "making of" featurette which includes interviews with some of the cast and crew and plenty of fun behind the scenes shots.
Overall a high quality feature-packed disc that makes the most of one of last year's funniest movies. Well worth adding to your collection, especially if you are at all familiar with Star Trek. And let's face it, these days who isn't? Film - 9/10 Disc - 9/10 Availability -
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