Galaxy Quest [Blu-ray] (1999)

Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni, Justin Long, and Robin Sachs
Live Action, NTSC
Number of Discs: 1
Dreamworks Video
Blu-Ray Release Date:
November 17, 2009
Run Time:
101 minutes



Is Galaxy Quest a great film? Few critics would say so, at least right away . . .

It's merely a terrific bit of entertainment: a clever riff on Star Trek that manages to send up the sci-fi classic while paying respectful, loving homage to it. It has little else on its mind. No deeper purpose, no subtle thematics, no great statement about the human condition. It's just . . . fun, especially for the die-hard genre fanboys which it ostensibly lampoons.

And yet, that fun has held up exceptionally well in the 10 years since its initial release. It doesn't look dated or preserved (save for the hilariously dead-on 1980s uniforms worn by the cast) and while some of the CGI effects feel a little clunky, the remainder could have been assembled yesterday. That's because the concepts beneath the effects remain extremely strong, boosted by some very talented actors and a keen awareness of the foibles and clichés embodied by science fiction television.

The premise smacks of high concept gimmickry - the has-been stars of a cult classic TV show are whisked into outer space by an alien species which thinks they're great heroes - and in other hands it might be. But director Dean Parisot knows that the devil is in the details and thinks his concepts through before putting them onscreen. Sure, series lead Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) is a Shatneresque ham, and his principal co-star (Alan Rickman) is a frustrated Shakespearean who felt destined for better things.

But witness Sigourney Weaver's Gwen DeMarco. A normal script would have made her a bubbly bimbo just like the character she portrayed on the show, but here, she's a very bright woman who made peace with the fact that she's known for playing a bimbo. Not only does it provide her with some really juicy dialogue, but she becomes a more fleshed-out creation, allowing us to identify with her as something beyond a fulcrum for punch-lines. So too do the other figures find ways to transcend their stock stereotypes, making them interesting and sympathetic as well as funny.

The remainder of Galaxy Quest expertly balances clever satire with dramatic cohesion. Everyone plays it straight, the threats hold their share of menace, and the standard-issue bad guy (Robin Sachs) really, truly seems to mean it. The humor comes from their efforts to deal with a ridiculous situation, not from being ridiculous themselves. Though the film scuffles for traction a bit in the final third - as the parody elements diminish and the space opera plot becomes more straightforward - it builds up so much goodwill in the interim that you hardly care.

That - along with spot-on riffs on such Star Trek staples as the doomed red shirt and the know-it-all engineer - allows it to thrive well past its expiration date. One could very easily plug Leonard Nimoy and the gang into the proceedings here without changing a line of dialogue. You can't fake that kind of knowingness; the fans will spot you every time. Galaxy Quest walks the walk, and thus does its humor become evergreen. Whether you watch it for the first time or the fiftieth, it still makes you laugh . . . and there aren't many movies out there that hold that kind of strength.

THE DISC: Image and audio quality are strong, highlighting the film's modestly stunning visual effects. There's only one disc in the Blu-Ray edition, but it holds plenty of extras: new documentaries, behind-the-scenes interviews, and a pop-up encyclopedia featuring faux trivia about the fake show. Most of it comes standard issue, and while it isn't especially unique, it remains quite informative and fun. Two features stand out. The "Thermian" audio track - allowing you to watch the entire film translated into the aliens' language - has been ported over intact from the older DVD, and a short piece called "Sigourney Weaver Raps" pretty much speaks for itself.

WORTH IT? It's been ten years since the film showed up on DVD, so an update is probably justified, and the Blu-Ray has more than enough improvements to merit a second purchase. If you don't own Galaxy Quest already, the Blu-Ray makes an excellent addition to your library.

RECOMMENDATION: Most Trekkies and sci-fi fans need no prodding to pick up a copy, but non-geeks in the audience are likely to enjoy it as well. The humor remains broadly accessible - with in-jokes kept to a minimum - and though mild innuendo crops up from time to time, parents should have no worries about watching it with their kids.

- Rob Vaux



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