Galaxy Quest returns to Blu-ray for its 20th anniversary
by Jim Bray
The best Star Trek parody is back, in a new steel box edition to mark its 20th anniversary.
Yep, Galaxy Quest has returned and if you're a sci-fi fan – especially if you're a Trekkie with a sense of humour – it's a definite "must see." Heck, it's a definite "must own" as well.
Alas, I don't believe this new, limited "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" collectors' edition is any different from the original Blu-ray release, other than its cool package, but it's a pretty good Blu-ray, so if you don't have it already, it's worth having.
Tim Allen plays an actor who performed the role of Commander Taggart, the "Captain Kirk" of an "Enterprise-like" starship on a long since cancelled weekly TV show. Sigourney Weaver is his communications chief whose chief function on the show is decorative; Alan Rickman is the ship's alien doctor – and he hates that fact; Tony Shalhoub is the ship's (non-Scottish) engineer, and Daryl Mitchell is the whiz kid helmsman – now all grown up.
In the "reality" of the film, however, they're a bunch of washed up actors who make most of their livings these days by showing up at "Galaxy Quest" conventions and tiredly going through the motions while charging fans for their autographs.
(note, the image is of the original BD release)
It's at one of these conventions that a group of real aliens shows up. Naturally, Nesmith/Taggart writes them off as just a few "GQ" fans from the more lunatic fringe – or, to be fair to fans, the more "into it" "cosplay" fans. But no, these aliens are Thermians, and they're for real, and they're begging Allen for his help in their desperate conflict with a race of evil, crab/lizard-like aliens.
Why? Well, they've been watching the show from space for years, as the TV broadcasts find their way into space the way Hitler's Olympics-opening video did in Robert Zemeckis' "Contact", and they think that, rather than just being a TV series, the show is actually a collection of historical documents being broadcast into the universe, as if it were the History Channel and one of its "reality shows."
The rest of the cast, including a guy who'd have worn a red shirt and died early if this really were Star Trek, is eventually coaxed – or perhaps coerced is the right word – into space to fight the good fight on a ship that was designed from the TV broadcasts but which, fortunately, really works.
Naturally, the battle is eventually won, but not before the audience is treated to a wonderful set of jokes and situations that bring to mind the best – and the worst – from the old Star Trek TV series. There's the aforementioned bit player who knows he's only along because he's expendable – and who doesn't even have a last name on the show. There's Sigourney Weaver's sexpot, whose dramatic license (or, in this case, dramatic learner's permit) allows her only to speak to the ship's computer, and relay its words to the rest of the cast.
You get the idea.
The characters' "real life" personae don't really like each other and a lot of the laughs come from the friction between them as they're forced to play their dramatic (well, not too dramatic) parts in real life.
Other laughs come from the situation itself, including a sequence in which Allen and Weaver, on their labyrinthine way to save the ship, are forced to get through a ridiculous area of huge "sledgehammer-like" obstacles that serve no apparent function but which are on the real life ship because they happened to be featured in one particularly bad "Galaxy Quest" episode – and the Thermians believed they needed to be there.
The actors are all well cast and turn in good performances – a bit tongue in cheek in places, but not usually – and not enough to make it look as if they're winking at the audience.
The screenplay is a delight, and the special effects and production values are state of the art for 1999.
The Blu-ray disc is in 1080p widescreen (2.35:1), and it's not reference quality but it's still very good, a huge leap over the original DVD (which shouldn't be surprising) and some of the space shots really deserve to be seen on as big a screen as you can muster. There's pretty good depth in places, thanks to decent black levels, and detail is generally very good.
The Dolby TrueHD sound is also very nice and will give your audio system a nice workout.
Extras are quite extensive, though once again they're simply repeats from the original Blu-ray of about 10 years ago. Still, it's a decent set and includes:
I must admit to being a tad disappointed that this new, anniversary "Collector's Edition" is the original release in a new, metal box. One would think, given the history of many "Special edition" disc releases, that it would at least be "remastered" or "restored" or something. So, as good as it may be, this is definitely not a reference quality disc as it sits. And it would've been nice to see some new interviews or other extras that put the film into more of a 20th anniversary retrospective. But no!Therefore, my advice for fans who own the initial Blu-ray already is to ignore this new release. If, however, you haven't yet embraced Galaxy Quest on high definition disc, then this is a worthy addition to your library. Assuming, of course, that you can't find the older version in a bargain bin or garage sale somewhere.
Copyright 2019 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.