"Galaxy Quest" on Blu-ray disc
by Jim Bray
Galaxy Quest is the best "Star Trek" parody to date and a definite "must see" for Trekkies, sci fi, and comedy fans alike. It's a pretty good Blu-ray, too and the high def treatment is welcome.
Tim Allen plays an actor who performed the role of Commander Taggart, the "Captain Kirk" of an "Enterprise-like" starship on a long since canceled 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, Tony Shalhoub is the ship's (non-Scottish) engineer, and Daryl Mitchell is the whiz kid helmsman - now 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.
When a group of real aliens shows up at a convention, asking Allen for his help in their desperate conflict with a race of evil, crab/lizard-like aliens, they're written off as just a few "GQ" fans from the more lunatic fringe. But no, these aliens are Thermians, and they're for real and have come to Earth seeking the Galaxy Quest crew's assistance.
You see, they've been watching the show from space for years and think that, rather than being a TV series, it's a collection of historical documents being broadcast into space.
The TV crew 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 bit player who knows he's only along because he's expendable, like the "non-regulars" who beamed down with Kirk every week. There's Sigourney Weaver's sexpot, whose dramatic license (or, in this case, 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 too much 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 way to deactivate the ship's self destruct sequence, 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.
The actors are all well cast and turn in good performances - a bit tongue in cheek but not enough to make it look as if they're winking at the audience.
The screenplay was obviously written by fans of the genre being lampooned, and the special effects and production values are state of the art.
The Blu-ray disc is in 1080p widescreen (2.35:1), and it's not quite reference quality but it's still very good, 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, including some pretty neat effects shots.
The Dolby TrueHD sound is also very good.
Dreamworks has also stuffed plenty of extras onto the disc, including a Galactopedia, and "Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest." The also include "Never Give Up, Never Surrender," a look at the crew, another featurette on the special effects, actors in space, deleted scenes, trailer, and - get this - an alternate audio soundtrack in honest to goodness Thermian.
Too bad fewer people speak Thermian than can rattle off a few menu items in Klingon.
Galaxy Quest, from
Dreamworks Home Video
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.