Everyone loves a good comeback story, and the story here is really simple. Cheesy sci-fi TV show airs and picks up a passionate fanbase. Cheesy sci-fi TV show gets canceled and its cast seems doomed to spend the rest of their careers answering hokey questions from fans at conventions or opening supermarkets with their worn out catch phrases. That is until pacifist aliens with no concept of fiction mistake the actors for the characters and equipping them with real life versions of the weapons, gadgets and starship right off the show, recruit them to save their race.
Years before Tropic Thunder or Star Trek’s own comeback, Galaxy Quest was already there. It’s not Star Trek, though it could be, but with Star Trek itself making a big comeback at the box office, it’s long past time for Galaxy Quest to get its due. Ten years ago, while the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises were busy killing off the goodwill of their fans, Galaxy Quest appeared out of nowhere as a breath of fresh air bringing with it the energy and enthusiasm that mainstream Science Fiction movie franchises had lost along the way. Look back at Galaxy Quest and you can see the genesis of Star Trek’s revival, from the bright white eggshell sets, to the amazing diversity of aliens and that sense of awe, the “gosh factor” that kicks in when everyone from Tim Allen’s Jason Nesmith on down actually sets foot inside a starship.
All of those things are part of why we watch Science Fiction movies in the first place, and Galaxy Quest brought them back into theaters, ten years before Star Trek did, backed by that mixture of uneasiness giving way to absolute enthusiasm that sums up what being a fan is all about. So it’s only fair that ten years later, Galaxy Quest is making its own comeback in a well deserved Deluxe DVD edition.
Though the concept of Galaxy Quest started life as a more explicit take off on Star Trek, as the creative process developed (ably chronicled on the DVD in The Story of Galaxy Quest) it came to take on a vivid life of its own, and while the performances of Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver or Sam Rockwell might remind you of famous Science Fiction characters and their portayers, they stand on their own as completely entertaining and believable characters on their own SciFi journey of faith.
Though this is a cast with some faces many will recognize, and others they won’t; no one actor steals the show. Instead they all come together with everyone getting their own moment. From Sam Rockwell’s comic nervousness, to Tony Shalhoub‘s unearthly sleepy calm to Enrico Colantoni ‘s childishly enthusiastic adoration to Tim Allen’s bluff unrelenting confidence, this is a cast that really delivers.
And while Galaxy Quest is filled with inside jokes running across multiple Science Fiction shows and movies, the movie is easily enjoyable even without being able to get all that “inside baseball”, because it plays both as straightforward identifiable comedy and a heroic narrative, side by side. From the opening scenes, the cast know that what they’re doing is ridiculous, and so does the audience, and yet over the scope of the movie, the cast and the viewers come to believe in the ridiculous, and make that journey of faith with them.
“Never Give Up, Never Surrender” is the tagline of Galaxy Quest, both the fictional Galaxy Quest and the meta-fictional Galaxy Quest, holds by that belief. And what seems like a goofy slogan gets taken to heart as Jason Nesmith, Gwen DeMarco, Alexander Dane and Guy Fleegman find that Galaxy Quest is becoming real around them, thanks to the naive faith of a childlike alien race, of their fans and finally of themselves.
Galaxy Quest may have an alien planet, faster than light travel, a giant rockmonster, futuristic weapons and ships… but the story at the heart of it is a very human one, about believing in yourself.
The first time out in theaters, Galaxy Quest did a respectable amount of business and then faded away, the way cult classics usually do. Its comeback as a Deluxe Edition DVD gives anyone who never saw it a chance to discover it for the first time, and people who remember seeing it and enjoying it, a chance to get the full package. From the gorgeous holographic cover that just seems to shoot out at you, to the many extras and specials inside, the Deluxe Edition DVD feels like as much of a labor of love as the movie itself.
Though it has a healthy dose of parody and self-parody, Galaxy Quest also boasted groundbreaking visual effects and alien makeup for its time, with work from ILM and Stan Winston, that still hold up really well today. From the giant convention scenes to the gleaming interiors and exteriors of the NSEA Protector, to the Rockmonster smashing his way through or the near collision between the Protector and Earth, this is a movie that was meant to look good, not just feel good. Which means if you’ve been clinging to a dogeared VHS of Galaxy Quest like I have, it’s time to trade up to the Deluxe Edition.
The Galaxy Quest Deluxe Edition DVD’s specials such as “Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector”, “Actors in Space” and “Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest” take you inside to show you just how much of a labor of love it really was. And there’s even an unbelievable bit with Sigourney Weaver rapping. And of course that’s not mentioning the deleted scenes and just the good feeling that comes from seeing an often overlooked sci-fi classic get the treatment it deserves.
Daniel is a reviewer and aficionado of movies, books and comics about things that fly through the sky, as well as strange and unusual things that happen on the ground. For more of his insights, visit Space Ramblings.