Regrets, a headache and the smell of sea air reminds me of Galaxy Quest. I was actually sat in a bar in Greece, nursing a hangover from the previous day’s events. I was in my early twenties, and bad decisions and lots of alcohol were on the menu for the week ahead. However, feeling a bit delicate, I found a bar that had been playing old Only Fools and Horses episodes on television, and I needed to retreat for a while. After a while, a film started called Galaxy Quest, and I hadn’t even heard of it? However, as soon as the film began, my headache began to lift. My love for science-fiction brought some tranquillity to my life that afternoon. I didn’t expect anything special, but it turned out to be a moment I would remember forever. Even today, Galaxy Quest is a film that can always cheer me up and remind me of the simplicity of life, in extraordinary ways. I do think it’s a very entertaining film, and it is about time I tried to understand why?
Galaxy Quest is a 1999 science-fiction comedy film directed by Dean Parisot and written by David Howard and Robert Gordon. The film didn’t make a huge impact at the box office due to very little advertising by DreamWorks, which the cast and crew thought hurt the potential for the movie. No wonder I hadn’t heard about it! The film was also received well by the critics and went on to win some seriously impressive awards. The Nebula Award for Best Script. The Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was nominated for 10 Saturn Awards, with Tim Allen winning Best Actor. However, in recent years, the film has become a cult classic, even becoming the seventh best Star Trek film in 2013 by the fans of the franchise.
If you’re going to make a great film, everyone involved needs to be on top of their game if you want to catch that lightning in a bottle. Plus, I guess you need some divine interception along the way. Okay, I know this isn’t some miracle, but it is astonishing when everything comes together and creates something as unique and enjoyable as Galaxy Quest. The film went through some changes in development, including Harold Remis leaving his role as Director. Remis didn’t agree with the casting of Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith and walked away from the project in 1999. Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline had all been considered for the lead role previously.
I guess I should be talking about the actual film we did get. The main plot of the film is pretty intelligent and weaves together flawlessly. I know original Star Trek fans will say that 1966 was the height of Star trek popularity. Maybe it was, but I wasn’t around to see it. My Golden Age of trek fandom would be 1987 to 2005. Maybe, that is unfair because I also enjoyed the movies starring the original cast. Even before the internet, stories about the fallout between the original actors from Star Trek seemed common knowledge. Jealousy, acceptance and personal grudges became legendary. The most famous controversy came from Leonard Nimoy when he released his biography, I am not Spock. I haven’t read the book yet, but the anger from the trek community seemed a bit overdramatic. However, this shows the intense scrutiny these actors found themselves now living under. On the flip side, William Shatner has become to oldest person to go to space. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened without him playing James T. Kirk. I guess fans just wanted to know what was happening in these actors’ lives, and Galaxy Quest feels like we finally get a peek behind the curtains. Star Trek, The Next Generation was and still is my favourite trek. The script works on many levels because I wondered how Patrick Stewart would deal with this dilemma. The dilemma is that aliens believe that a 1980’s science-fiction TV show is a historical document. The Thermains come to Earth to ask for help from the Protector and its crew. What an imaginative and thought-provoking idea for a story.
I don’t want to start walking you through the entire film, and I hope you have watched it already. I simply want to talk about some of the things that impress me about this film. The visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic led by Bill George are ahead of their time in 2001. I watched the movie again recently, and apart from the CGI Gorignak looking a tiny bit dated, the special effects in this film are still pretty impressive. I have to say my favourite visual moments are a little odd. I appreciate Alexander Dane’s Alan Rickman make-up design, and the footage of the Galaxy Quest TV show. Don’t get me wrong, everything aboard the Protector and in space is beautiful, but I needed a Galaxy Quest TV show after those few seconds of grainy footage.
I think the most interesting cast member is Sigourney Weaver. Ripley from Alien is one of the strongest female role models in science-fiction. So, to have Weaver play Gwen DeMarco, an actor who is used more for her looks than her acting talent, helps highlight the misogyny of certain parts of the entertainment industry. I love how Star Trek and Star Wars has embraced the leading female actor in recent productions. Alan Rickman is the funniest actor in this film, and Alexander Dane is my favourite character. Rickman’s dry British humour is not lost on me, and I love how he manages to deliver the most ludicrous speeches and still have it feel like Leonard Nimoy is delivering those lines through gritted teeth. I don’t know much about Tim Allen, as Home Improvement was not very popular in the U.K, or I missed it. However, I did enjoy his performance, and I did feel like his journey from a washed-up actor to a decent man was pretty believable. Jason Nesmith’s early interactions with the Thermians was quite funny, and I felt his pain at that moment in time.
I could talk about Galaxy Quest all day, but I guess I have to finish things here. I haven’t even mentioned Sam Rockwell, but his role as Guy Fleegman, a former redshirt was superb, and you knew instantly, he would become a star in the future. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface, but I feel like I have covered what’s most important about the film for me. Galaxy Quest is a perfect science-fiction film, filled with adventure, wonder and the hero’s journey.
Why do I love this film? A question I asked myself at the beginning of the review. I think it’s because it acknowledges how special it is to be a science-fiction fan. Growing up, my friends never really cared for the genre, so my fandom was pretty insular till the internet arrived. However, I think most of us would have loved to be Brandon Justin Long and his friends, as they learn their favourite space show is now a reality. I’m surprised that two writers were involved in finishing the final script because the love for this genre seems so authentic and heartfelt. This film could have easily made fun of science-fiction and its audience, but Galaxy Quest makes you understand that we are all part of something special. I admire how the writers chose to let the hecklers upset Jason Nesmith. One comment could easily hurt someone. However, in the grand scheme of things, they are pretty insignificant. Never Give up, Never Surrender.
Thank you for visiting today. Do you remember the first time you watched Galaxy Quest, plus what does the film mean to you? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.