Release Date(s)1999 (May 2, 2000)
102 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 55:17, at the start of chapter 12), Amaray keep case packaging, featurette On Location in Space, 7 deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, preview trailers for Chicken Run, The Road to El Doradoand Road Trip, cast & crew bios, production notes, Omega 13, animated film-themed menus with music and sound effects, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and Thermian (DD 2.0), subtitles: English
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Brandon (a fan): I want you to know that I'm not a complete brain-case, okay? I understand completely that it's just a TV show...
Nesmith (as Commander Taggert): It's all real.
Brandon: Oh my God—I knew it!!!
Galaxy Quest is one of the most clever and entertaining films of last year. It is, without a doubt, a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Star Trek—not just the fictional world of Star Trek, but the show's cast and fans as well. The humor is completely good-natured, so if you're a Trekkie, you'll love this. Thankfully, the humor is also wonderfully universal—I don't know of a single person who saw this film and didn't enjoy it, Trek-savvy or not. It's just damn funny.
The story is simple. Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, a washed up (and full of himself) actor who played Commander Peter Quincy Taggert (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 looking most depressing for these has-beens, 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), who's race is being wiped out by the evil 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 They assume the show is really a "historical document", and they've based their entire culture on its example.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, there are plenty of in-jokes. One of the actors (played by Dean Rockwell) is 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 Shaloob'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 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 almost Buzz Lightyear-ish. Alan Rickman is hilarious as the former British stage actor, who got pigeon-holed as the slightly-alien, super-intelligent character on the show (his droll attitude recalls these words: "I am not Spock!"). Weaver is equally good as the busty-blonde T&A on the show, who simply repeated everything the computer said. Daryl Mitchell was the boy-genius who flew the ship (think Wesley Crusher), and who's now all grown up. Shaloob steals the show with some of the best lines, as the Scotty-type chief engineer character. And Just Shoot Me's Enrico Colantoni steals it right back as the geek-boy leader of the Thermians.
On DVD, the film looks and sounds simply amazing. The anamorphic widescreen video is crisp and clean—you'll be hard pressed to find any flaws. The film's muted-cool color scheme is perfectly rendered, with deep blacks and wonderful contrast. Note that the film starts in full frame, as we watch a rerun of the Galaxy Quest TV series (it then widens out to 2.35:1 for the rest of the movie). The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is equally good, with clear and well-placed dialogue and thunderous bass. There aren't quite as many rear-channel audio gimmicks as you'd expect with this kind of film. Rather, the surround mix creates terrific ambience, placing the viewer in a natural 360-degree audio environment. Listen to the audio as Allen gets "teleported' back to Earth at the end of chapter 4 (about 19 minutes into the film) - the first time he realizes that what he's experiencing is real. We hear ourselves smack in the middle of a cavernous chamber, when suddenly the roof opens up on a vista of space, and Allen is shot into a black hole. The 5.1 mix is terrific. An English 2.0 mix also provided, as is a 2.0 mix in Thermian... no, I'm not kidding. It's fun, but I bet it got tough to record after about an hour. Can you imagine going, "Arrr, arrr, augh, ack, ack, arrr!!" for 102 minutes? Ouch! One last note - a separate DTS 5.1 DVD version of this film is also forthcoming.
The extras on this disc are also good. There are a bunch of deleted scenes, presented in surprisingly good quality, and some are pretty funny (although you can see why they were deleted). There's a decent 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette (which I wish was longer), and production notes and cast and crew bios (which include a number of video "Easter eggs"). There are also 4 theatrical trailers that look amazing, also in anamorphic widescreen (one for this film, and new preview trailers for Chicken Run, The Road to El Dorado and Road Trip). And finally, there's the Omega 13. I'm not going to tell you what it does—just be sure to try it both before AND after you watch the film.
My only complaint with the extras is that I wanted more. Given that this is a Trek spoof, it's surprising that the name Star Trek isn't mentioned anywhere in the production notes. Okay... from a legal standpoint, maybe it isn't so surprising. Still, I would have loved a commentary track with director Dean Parisot and the writers, where they talk about all the in-jokes here. David Howard and Robert Gordon are credited for the script, and clearly they did their research—there's some savvy references here that only a true Trek fan would know to include. And given this cast, I bet there were tons of funny antics on the set that would have been a blast to see.
Still, all things considered, it's pretty tough not to love this disc. DreamWorks has definitely risen to the occasion. There's plenty of laughs here for everyone—trust me. Here at the Bits, we're all big fans of this kind of movie, naturally. But even our wives enjoyed this film... and that should say something! Personally, I'm hoping DreamWorks has a sequel planned. Galaxy Quest on DVD is a hoot—fire-all-phasers good fun. Absolutely don't miss it.
- Bill Hunt