Criterion’s April titles include Coppola’s Rumble Fish and Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club https://t.co/1PmfiylRaB
Release Date(s)1999 (November 17, 2009)
As you may know, Galaxy Quest is a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Star Trek – not just Trek’s fictional world, but the show’s cast and fans as well. It’s also one of the most affectionate and clever send-ups you’ll ever see. The humor is completely good-natured, so if you’re a Trekkie, you’ll love this. It’s also wonderfully universal, so you’re likely to enjoy it whether you’re Trek-savvy or not. Galaxy Quest is just damn funny.
Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, a washed up (and full of himself) actor who played Commander Peter Quincy Taggart (think William Shatner/Captain Kirk) on a 20-year-old TV show called Galaxy Quest. He and his fellow cast members make their living now on the Sci-fi convention circuit, doing public appearances and signing autographs for their slightly-over-enthusiastic fans (think Trekkies). But just when things are getting depressing for these typecast actors, a group of fans approaches Nesmith with a job offer. But here’s the twist – these particular “fans” are really aliens (Thermians to be exact), whose race is being wiped out by the evil villain Sarris. As it turns out, the Thermians have been watching re-runs of Galaxy Quest for years. They assume the show is really a “historical document”, and they’ve based their entire culture (and their last hope) on its example. So in their darkest hour, naturally they turn to the great Captain Taggart and his crew for help.
What ensues is a classic fish-out-of-water tale, with an extremely funny twist. The script is very well written, loaded with funny gags and some hilarious dialogue – there are tons of throw-away lines here that will have you rolling. And for those familiar with Star Trek and other sci-fi shows, there are plenty of in-jokes. One of the actors (played by Sam Rockwell) was just an extra who was killed in the first five minutes of “Episode 81” on the Galaxy Quest TV show. So naturally, he’s afraid he’s going to die at any moment. When the crew lands on a strange planet, and Tony Shalhoub’s character opens the door, another reacts: “Hey, don’t open that – it’s an alien planet!! Is there air?! You don’t know!!” And when Sigourney Weaver and Allen find themselves crawling through air shafts at one point, Weaver’s character comments dryly, “Ducts... why does there always have to be ducts” – a wry nod to her earlier work in the Alien films.
But without great performances, Galaxy Quest just wouldn’t work, and the cast definitely rises to the occasion. Allen is simply perfect as the show’s Captain – his performance is at times appropriately Buzz Lightyear-ish. Alan Rickman is hilarious as a former British stage actor, who got pigeon-holed as the slightly-alien, super-intelligent character on the show (his droll attitude recalls the words: “I am not Spock!”). Weaver is equally good as the show’s busty-blonde T&A, who simply repeated everything the computer said. Daryl Mitchell is the boy-genius who flew the ship (think Wesley Crusher), and who’s now all grown up. And Shalhoub steals the show with some of the film’s best lines as the Scotty-type chief engineer character, while Just Shoot Me’s Enrico Colantoni steals it right back as the geek-boy leader of the Thermians.
On Paramount’s new Blu-ray, Galaxy Quest arrives with a very nice high-definition presentation. Colors are a little muted as a result of the film’s production design, but they’re fully accurate to the theatrical experience. Contrast is satisfying, there’s a good level of fine image detail and a very soft grain texture is just visible, rendering a nicely film-like image. The film’s audio is presented in a new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that matches the visuals well. Dialogue and music are clearly presented, and the dynamic range is quite nice. The surround play is a little more directional that more recent mixes, but the rear channels are lively and the overall audio experience is excellent.
The Blu-ray includes most everything of importance that was on the original DVD (including the deleted scenes, the trailer – now in HD – and the Thermian language track). Missing is the EPK-style featurette and a few left-over actor interview clips. More importantly, the Blu-ray includes EVERYTHING that was on the recent Deluxe Edition DVD, including all of the new documentary featurettes and a new, Blu-ray exclusive Galactopedia fact track. The disc’s content isn’t going to outshine the most elaborate, state-on-the-art BD special editions obviously, but for this film, it’s pretty much everything you’d want.
Galaxy Quest is an oft overlooked comedy gem. Here at The Bits, we’re all big fans of this movie, as you’d expect. But even our wives/significant others dig this one... and that should say something! I’m STILL hoping DreamWorks does a sequel someday. In any case, Galaxy Quest on Blu-ray is a hoot – fire-all-phasers good fun. And it’s highly recommended.
- Bill Hunt