Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 3/31/00
1999 (2000) - DreamWorks
review by Bill Hunt,
editor of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B+
Specs and Features
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
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 They assume the show is really a "historical
document", and they've based their entire culture on its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
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.