Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest (1999)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Cast: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Enrico Colantoni

Sometimes, a great idea alone can make a great movie. If you have a great idea coupled with a great cast, it may get you even further. If you have a great idea, a fantastic cast and breath-taking special effects, you’re going a long way! This is the case with Dreamwork’s Home Video’s latest release "Galaxy Quest." Sadly overlooked at the box office, "Galaxy Quest" is a hilarious mix of comedy, science fiction and action. It mocks science fiction TV serials like "Star Trek" and "Babylon 5" but without ever becoming a real cheap spoof, always making sure to maintain style and class, just as these television series do.

Not much of the glory is left of their heydays when the cast of the television series "Galaxy Quest" make their money with appearances at fan conventions and car dealership openings. It has been 20 years since their famed television show last aired, and still the legions of fans keep the myth and the actors afloat – in part against their will. But who’s to complain? You tell the same stories you told for 20 years, you repeat the same catch phrases that made you famous in the first place, and you try to be who the fans want you to be. Reminds you of certain celebrities? Me too.

In "Galaxy Quest" the troupe surrounding the self-centered Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) who plays Commander Peter Quincy Taggert on the show in question includes busty Gwen De Marco (Sigourney Weaver) as Lieutenant Tawny Madison, the neurotic Alexander Dane as Dr. Lazarus (Alan Rickman), Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) as Tech Sergeant Chen, Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) and Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) as Lieutenant Laredo.
Disillusioned, frustrated and tired of the routine they are on the brink of killing each other when a strange group of people asks Nesmith for help. Nesmith takes them for yet another group of sad fanatics and plays along with them when he suddenly realizes that he is in fact dealing with real creatures from outer space. Caught in the middle of a war with reptilian creatures, Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni) and his people put all their hopes into the heroic team of space aces they have been witnessing through broadcasts for the longest time from outer space. Mistaking the TV show for historical documents these Thermians cannot wrap their brains around the thought that the show is just entertainment. In the firm belief to simply act out yet another fan fantasy, suddenly the crew of the "Galaxy Quest" TV series boldly finds itself in a galaxy far beyond to battle a real war against real aliens!

The idea behind "Galaxy Quest" is as simple as it is ingenious. The thought of forcing actors to actually become the parts they play is interesting indeed, and combined with the all-too familiar science-fiction-television-series-fandom-syndrome, you are looking at a hilarious persiflage of an accustomed scenario with an entirely new twist. Where other films make fun of the characters of certain shows, "Galaxy Quest" makes fun of these shows themselves, and more importantly of the surreal fanaticism surrounding them. More than once I thought, "that’s how William Shatner must feel practically every day of his life, and it won’t go away."

"Galaxy Quest" is superbly cast and acted and especially "Just Shoot Me" star Enrico Colantoni as Mathesar makes a lasting impression. His half-robotic atonal talking with the irrational phrasing is a riot. Tim Allen all too often resembles Captain James T. Kirk, not only in looks but also through his voice and the overacting he puts in whenever his character supposedly ’acts.’ Alan Rickman is superb as the ever-nagging Dr. Lazarus who doesn’t believe a thing of what he sees at first and is sickened by the past that brought him here. All in all, this is the perfect cast in a perfect environment!

A huge portion of the movie plays in outer space and turns into a space opera with starports, spaceships, strange planets and vibrant aliens. The effects work on "Galaxy Quest" is breathtaking, bringing the full glory of space operas to life. Gigantic spaceships, colorful worlds, and inventive aliens dominate the film, eventually giving the viewer the impression he’s watching a real space odyssey as the events unfold and the actor-crew forgets about the absurdity of the situation they’re in.

As expected, Dreamworks Home Video is serving up a superb DVD with this release. The disc contains a highly detailed and sharp-looking <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer of the movie in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Without any hint of speckles, the transfer is absolutely clean and without any noise or grain. Colors are bold and powerful. Bringing the strange worlds to breathtaking life with their intricate details. Especially the coloring of Sarris’ spaceship and his reptilian creatures is superbly rendered on this disc with powerful colors that are never over-saturated. The black level presented on this transfer is meticulous, creating deep solid shadows that never lose any of their definition. Hues and shades are flawlessly reproduced and fleshtones are absolutely natural looking. The transfer is entirely devoid of any compression artifacts.

The DVD contains a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix as well as a <$DS,Dolby Surround> mix in English. Especially the <$5.1,5.1 mix> is very dynamic and active. With a wide frequency response and great bass extension, the track has plenty of punch and crystal clear high-ends. Dialogues are well balanced, always understandable and never drowned out by the sound effects. Interestingly I seem to have noticed a bit of distortion on some of Tim Allen’s dialogue lines. It sounded like clipping from the recording rather than a result of the transfer to DVD however. With its aggressive use of the discrete surrounds and its sonic depth, the 5.1 audio mix on the disc is much more expansive than the tight sounding Dolby surround mix.
As a special and absolutely hilarious feature, the disc also contains a Thermian audio track, which allows you to watch the entire movie in this alien language. Check it out, it is a lot of fun!

A "Behind The Scenes" documentary, called "On Location In Space" is also part of the release. It is an interesting little featurette with cast and crew interviews that gives a little insight into the film’s production.
A series of deleted scenes can also be found on the disc and although must of them have been cut for a good reason, there were two that I found very funny and would have perfectly fit in the film. The movie’s theatrical trailer, some extensive cast and crew biographies and production notes round up this great release.

"Galaxy Quest" is walking a thin line between a comedy and a real dramatic action-loaded space opera and it does so with ease. Never becoming a blatant spoof it is an enlightening and highly entertaining movie that combines many elements of the genres and creates a truly unique experience. With cleverly written dialogues – look out for the line "Do you guys ever watch the show?" – and a superb cast, I wouldn’t be surprised if "Galaxy Quest" begins to gather its very own fandom. It was also one of the very rare occasions where for once I found myself hoping that we’ll see a sequel to this inspired movie some day. Dreamworks Home Video is once again putting out a reference DVD here with the best image and sound quality you can imagine, so make sure to check it out.