In this review I shall doubtless make use of the term "Trekkie". Keep your e-mails to yourself. I do not wish to hear how you are now called "Trekkers". I was sewing insignia on red turtleneck sweaters and making phasers in wood shop long before most of your parents thought of having twinkles in their eyes.
This movie's version of Star Trek is a show called Galaxy Quest, which apparently had a four-year run back in the 70's. In the present, the show has gained a fanatic cult following, but the only work the cast can find is making personal appearances at conventions and store openings. Enter the Thermians, an alien race currently being blasted into oblivion by an evil green lobster guy called Sarris (Robin Sachs, as if you could recognize him in the typically fine Stan Winston suit). The Thermians have intercepted the TV signals of the original broadcast, and think they are recruiting the butt-kicking crew of the series, when in reality they're getting a bunch of actors who quickly realize they are in way, way over their heads.
The cast is uniformly good - Tim Allen as "Commander Peter Quincy Taggart", a blonde Sigourney Weaver as "Lt. Tawny Madison" (whose only job is to repeat everything the ship's computer says), and Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane, an embittered Shakespearian actor whose role was "Dr. Lazaras", the ship's resident alien. Rounding things out are Tony Shalhoub as "Tech Sergeant Kwan", apparently stoned to the gills and therefore the only actor to take everything in stride, Daryl Mitchell as helmsman "Laredo" (Galaxy Quest's Wesley Crusher) and Sam Rockwell, as a guy who played Red Shirts in two episodes and is fearful that since life is imitating art, he'll get killed inside of two scenes.
With FX support by Stan Winston and ILM, the movie is well-crafted and beautiful to behold. The story lacks a bit - though the earlier parts dwell on some of the darker things we've heard over the years about the Classic Trek crew, it rarely gets as biting or satiric as one would hope; and although the second half (when the actors have to become the heroes they've emulated for so many years or die) has several almost mandatory Spielbergian tug-at-your-heartstrings- while- everything-comes-to-a-dead-stop moments, the cast is good enough to make them play.
Those Dreamworks guys, they put out a good product. The transfer is crystal clear, and the sound magnificent. The colors in the scene where the crew must journey to the surface of an alien planet to scavenge for fuel seem too bright, but hey: it's an alien planet (well, Utah, which is close enough).
The interactive menus are nice to look at, with abundant animations from the movie. "On Location in Space" is a nine-minute making-of fluff piece. There are seven deleted scenes, and most of them are better off on the cutting room floor - I do, however, miss the scene where Weaver's character finally gets to put her affinity with the ship's computer to good use.
The Cast & Crew bios are handsomely mounted, well-written, and fairly complete, if concise - and refreshingly, are not limited to only the movie's stars, but all the main characters (They do, however, refer to Justin Long by his character's name, Brandon. Oops). There is also the film's theatrical trailer, as well as trailers for Chicken Run, Road to El Dorado, and Road Trip. A section called Production Notes replicates the pack-in booklet, text screen by text screen.
The disc also has one of the longest-running jokes I've yet seen: the Thermian language track. Yes, audio track 3 is the movie's dialogue in the Thermian's bizarre, barking seal tongue. The gag would have been even better had they mixed in the sound effects and music. And, oh yeah, you have to love the Omega 13 option on the menu.
Galaxy Quest is certainly entertaining enough for a rental, even for non-genre fans; it's a good, harmless comedy-adventure. However, only Trekkies (there, I said it) with a sense of humor should apply - the Galaxy Quest convention segments are painfully realistic.
Dr. Freex, 5/30/00