DreamWorks // 1999 // 103 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // March 29th, 2000
A comedy of Galactic Proportions.
Galaxy Quest sports a highly original story line, with which you are by now familiar. The cast of a long-cancelled sci-fi television series find them selves with little more to do than attend fan conventions. Suddenly they are visited by aliens from another world who have been picking up the television signals in outer space and have interpreted them as historical fact, instead of television fantasy. The aliens, Thermians, are having trouble with the neighborhood bully and are looking for help during their negotiations. Hilarity and folly ensue shortly after the crew of Galaxy Quest the show is tapped for the assignment of a lifetime.
This is the first time I have seen Galaxy Quest, and I had pretty high expectations based on the trailers I had seen. I was not disappointed. The premise put forth by writer David Howard is uniquely creative and wonderful not unlike Tim Allen's screen debut in The Santa Clause. As described above, you should be able to tell that this is a pretty heavy spoof of the original Star Trek Series. But, unlike the recently reviewed Trekkies, Galaxy Quest takes the next step in creativity. This had to be one hell of an easy sell to the studios. At least I imagine it was. With all the junk being tossed out of the Hollywood machine, this one had to ring some bells in some pretty high places around L.A. at the time it was being pitched.
Tim Allen (The Santa Clause, Toy Story, and Home Improvement) admirably carries the film in the role of the captain on the TV show Galaxy Quest. I'm not sure if Tim could ever carry a real "action" pic, but his attempts here make for some fine comic relief. Sigourney Weaver really lets her hair down as Gwen DeMarco, the blonde bimbette whose job is to interface with the ship's on-board computer. She has a lot of fun playing the bouncy lieutenant, but where in God's name did she come up with all that cleavage? The two main characters in the film are supported admirably by a cast of supporting veterans including Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Sense and Sensibility), Tony Shalhoub (Paulie, Men In Black), Enrico Colantoni (Stigmata, Just Shoot Me, Hope and Gloria), and Daryl Mitchell (House Party, TV's John Laroquette Show and Veronica's Closet). Each carries his weight and then some. I was particularly impressed by Colantoni's portrayal of the Thermian leader Mathesar, but then again I have always liked him from the first time I saw him in Hope and Gloria several years ago.
DreamWorks does a bang up job with this DVD. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is superb. Colors were deeply saturated and suffered no bleeding. There was no artifacting of any kind I could trace and black level was deep and rich. Contrast was right on and the back and forth between deep space and the bright lights of the Utah desert (where the alien planet was set) was handled with ease. This transfer is absolutely reference quality. Despite the heavy use of special effects in Galaxy Quest, I was never pulled out of the illusion due to hokey presentation of those effects. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I would rather see a director compromise his vision by not including a certain shot rather than use crappy effects. But Galaxy Quest did not suffer in this area one bit. Whether that was due to the money spent on the production or the use of top-notch talent like Industrial Light and Magic (CGI Effects) and Stan Winston (Animatronics) is irrelevant. The point is that every effect worked like magic.
The audio portion of the disc was also solid with ample use of surrounds and subwoofer channels on the 5.1 track. The soundstage was very wide but a little shallow front to back. Not a major hassle to be sure. Dialogue was very intelligible and well placed in the soundfield. The creative use of the Thermian language track was good for a few very funny moments as well. It might have been even better to put a Thermian commentary track in place instead and use English subtitles to describe the action, but no matter. Major points to the DreamWorks creative team who put the disc together for thinking up this interesting use of the alternate language tracks on the DVD. It should be noted that this review is based on the Dolby Digital version of the disc. There are reports that a DTS version will also be available and that it will include all the extras of its DD counterpart. This sure is good news for DTS fans.
The extras include a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, seven deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, production notes and a very detailed cast and crew information pages. The disc also includes teaser trailers for three upcoming DreamWorks releases, Chicken Run, The Road to El Dorado and Road Trip. I would like to see more studios offer these up as options on all their discs as DreamWorks has been doing for some time now. This is the attention to detail that makes them one of DVDs strongest supporters. Lastly, the main menu page has a little special addition that centers on a major plot point. Press the button for the Omega 13 prior to watching the movie and you'll get an access denial box warning you about spoiling the movie. Press it after watching the feature film and you'll get a cute little action that relates specifically to the Omega 13 device used in the film. The disc also includes several brief interviews with the main cast and crewmembers involved in the production. Nice.
Those of you who are regular DVD Verdict readers realize this is where we talk about the drawbacks of the disc or the film. I really have nothing that fits in this category. I really liked this film and the disc speaks for itself.
This is one great disc with excellent video and audio and a creative use of extra features. How can one go wrong with something as good as that? Highly recommended. Purchase this disc without reservation. If you don't trust me then rent it first, but don't say I didn't warn you.
DreamWorks is released from custody with the apology of the court. The prosecuting attorney is sentenced to 30 days in lockup where he gets to watch re-reruns of Maude day in and day out. That ought to teach him!
Review content copyright © 2000 Sean McGinnis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Thermian)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* On Location in Space Featurette
* Seven Deleted Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer
* Chicken Run Teaser Trailer
* The Road to El Dorado Teaser Trailer
* Road Trip Teaser Trailer
* Cast and Crew Info
* Production Notes
* Galaxy Quest Trailers
* Galaxy Quest the Web Site
* The Unofficial Sigourney Weaver Page