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GALAXY QUEST
Deluxe Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell
Director:  Dean Parisot
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Dreamworks
Features:  See Review
Length:  102 Minutes
Release Date:  May 12, 2009

"Never give up...NEVER SURRENDER!"

Film ***1/2

When William Shatner was researching his book Star Trek Memories, he took the time to visit and chat with his old cast mates, only to have the tables turned on him…each took the opportunity to air his or her grievances with the ham handed actor, who never before appreciated how many toes he had stepped on during the classic television show!  In going where no man had gone before, they had in fact gone where many an actor had gone before.

In the movie Galaxy Quest, we meet the cast of a cult sci-fi television program some twenty years after the show had ended, and find a comic homage to Star Trek, both in front of the camera and behind.  The resulting film is an appealing, charming comedy that also takes its visuals very seriously.  You don’t need to be a Trekkie to enjoy it.  Not at all.  But if you happen to be one, the joys of the picture are almost limitless.

The ham-handed Jason Nesmith (Allen) was the star of the show as Captain Peter Quincy Taggart, and it’s clear that in the years since, he’s clung to that meager glory with both hands.  Alexander Dane (Rickman) was once a respected English actor who could never shake the fans’ association of him with his alien character, Dr. Lazarus.  Gwen DeMarco (Weaver) provided the show’s sex appeal as the blonde bombshell Tawny Madison.  All have been reduced to making the publicity rounds, doing conventions and shopping center openings, but all carry the wounds of battle from the show with them:  frustrations, disappointments, and petty jealousies.

But all of that changes when a troupe of Thermian aliens recruit them for help in their own galactic struggles.  Why?  They had intercepted the television signal and seen their shows, but mistook them for actual historical documents.  They modeled a spacecraft meticulously after the fashion of the fictional one.  Now, the intrepid crew of Galaxy Quest will have to find out if they have what it takes to take to the stars for real.  But it won’t be easy…in a terrific early sequence, a bewildered and hung over Nesmith unwittingly instigates an interstellar war!

The success of the comedy comes mostly from the faithfulness to the premise:  even though the universe may hang in the balance, these actors never take time off from nursing their wounded egos and finding something to complain about.  When Nesmith accidentally gets left behind to battle an incredible looking rock creature, Dane mutters, “It’s always about YOU, isn’t it?  You HAVE to be the hero.”

And that’s only the beginning of the fertile comic ground.  There’s the unnamed extra (Rockwell), who comes along on the mission, only to later lament that the unnamed crew member is always the one who dies just to prove how dangerous the situation is.  And later, there’s an incredible obstacle of crushing metal blocks that Nesmith and DeMarco have to negotiate…they serve no functional purpose other than to look cool, and because they were featured in one of the scripts.  (“That episode was badly written!” Gwen protests.)  And one rabid fanboy, who knows the ins and outs of every episode ever made of the show, gets the opportunity of his dreams when his knowledge comes in handy for the crew at a crucial moment in the story.

As good as the comedy is, however, the sci-fi aspects are equally appealing, and credit Dreamworks with spending the money to make sure their film was the visual equal of any space adventure film of recent memory.  How serious were they?  Industrial Light and Magic created the computer generated and space flight effects, and make-up master Stan Winston provided the creature effects—the best of the best in their respective fields.

But holding all aspects together is the terrific cast, led by Tim Allen in arguably his best film performance, and Sigourney Weaver, who proves herself a comic gem and a great sport by playing the antithesis of the space heroine she made famous in the Alien films.  Special mention must also go to Enrico Colantoni as the Thermian leader, Malthasar.  He plays the role with a pained grin, strange speech, and a goofy charm that’s very winning.

So on one hand, the movie kids all things Star Trek, from the mode of science fiction to the cultural phenomenon it created, yet at the same time, manages to settle into its own rhythm as an appealing sci-fi fantasy in its own right.  Any way you look at it, Galaxy Quest is a comic success, and a fun film for the whole family.

Video ****

This is a very well done anamorphic widescreen presentation, free from any noticeable grain, compression, or other image problems.  Colors are natural, plentiful and wide ranging, and this disc captures them all beautifully, with no evidence of bleeding or over-saturation.  Even objects in deep focus maintain an incredible level of detail.  But the critical test for science fiction movies on disc is the space sequences, and this DVD passes effortlessly, rendering fantastic looking black, starry backgrounds for the ships, laser fire, and explosions to play upon.  Again, these scenes come across with no noticeable image bleeding or loss of clarity—an outstanding effort.

Audio ****

Metropolis notwithstanding, what’s a science fiction picture without killer sound effects?  Again, Dreamworks doesn’t disappoint, delivering a quality Dolby Digital 5.1 mix  that is crisp, clean and boasting terrific dynamic range.  By the time the cast members take off for their interstellar adventure, all channels have kicked in nicely, providing an ambient surround mix, with plenty of directional whooshes, weapons fire and explosions.  I found the constant front-to-back and diagonal changeovers clean and effective.  The .1 channel nicely adds extra depth and power to the action scenes.  High marks across the board.

Features ***

Dreamworks is celebrating 10 years of Galaxy Quest with this new Deluxe Edition DVD.  There is a new featurette looking back at the movie, as well as one on the "crew" of the Protector.  There are extras on the special effects, the actors, and the creation of the Thermian race.  Rounding out is a trailer and Sigourney Weaver rapping...'nuff said.  Though if you really love your sci-fi experience, you can also view the movie with a Thermian language track.

Summary:

Galaxy Quest is a funny, well-crafted science fiction comedy with a strong cast, great visuals, and a can’t-miss premise at its heart.  It’s a good film given the stellar Deluxe Edition treatment on DVD by Dreamworks.  “By Grabthar’s hammer”, I think you’ll enjoy adding this disc to your library.

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