Galaxy Quest is a 1999 science-fiction parody comedy film about a troupe of actors who defend a group of aliens against an alien warlord. It was directed by Dean Parisot and written by David Howard and Robert Gordon. Mark Johnson and Charles Newirth produced the film for DreamWorks, and David Newman composed the music score. Portions of the film were shot in Goblin Valley State Park, Utah, USA, and non-humanoid creatures were created by Stan Winston Studio from designs by Jordu Schell.
The film parodies the television series Star Trek and related media activities such as fandom. It stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell as the cast of a defunct television series called Galaxy Quest, in which the crew of a spaceship embarked on intergalactic adventures. Enrico Colantoni also stars as the leader of an alien race who ask the actors for help, believing the show's adventures were real. The film's supporting cast features Robin Sachs as the warlord, Patrick Breen as a friendly alien, and Justin Long in his feature-film debut as a fan of the television show.
The film received critical praise and reached cult status through the years, garnering admiration from Star Trek fans, staff, and cast members. It won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the Nebula Award for Best Script, and was also nominated for ten Saturn Awards including Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director for Parisot, Best Actress for Weaver and Best Supporting Actor for Rickman, winning Best Actor for Allen.
The film was included in Reader's Digest's list of The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time. In commentary on the Blu-ray edition of Star Trek, director J. J. Abrams called Galaxy Quest "one of the best Star Trek movies ever made."
Galaxy Quest is a once-popular television space-drama series starring Jason Nesmith as the commander of a spaceship called the NSEA Protector, Alexander Dane as the ship's alien science officer, Fred Kwan as the chief engineer, Gwen DeMarco as the computer officer, and Tommy Webber as a precocious child pilot. Guy Fleegman played a security officer who was quickly killed off in his only appearance on the show, in Episode 81.
Eighteen years after the show was cancelled, as a Galaxy Quest convention full of costumed fans is underway, Jason is approached by a group of people whose leader, Mathesar, says that they are aliens called "Thermians". Jason goes with them to what he assumes will be an amateur filming session, but the Thermians really are aliens, octopoidal creatures using Appearance Generators, a device that makes them appear human. Technologically advanced but having no concept of fiction, they have mistaken broadcasts of Galaxy Quest for historical documentaries and modelled their society on the ethos presented in the episodes. They have invented and built real versions of the technologies portrayed in the show, including the Protector.
The Thermians transport Jason onto the Protector to negotiate with Sarris (named after film critic Andrew Sarris), a reptilian humanoid warlord waging a genocidal war against the Thermian people. Sarris demands the Omega 13, a device used at the very end of Galaxy Quest's final episode. Still believing the situation is fictional, Jason orders the Thermians to fire upon Sarris's spaceship and then insists on returning home, but when they send him through space to Earth, he finally realizes the events were real. The Thermians then come back to Earth and ask for more help negotiating a surrender with Sarris. Jason, believing Sarris is the one to surrender, asks his co-stars to join him, and they agree, believing that the mission is just an acting job. Once the actors are onboard the Protector, they finally realize the truth, but Sarris prevents them from leaving, so they assume their television roles in order to save the Thermians, who have very little concept of deception, or the art of acting/theater.
Sarris chases the Protector into a space minefield, which damages the beryllium sphere that powers the ship's reactor. The actors acquire a new sphere from a nearby planet after battling various alien creatures, but when they return to the ship, Sarris has boarded it and taken control. Sarris interrogates Jason about the Omega 13 and forces him to admit the truth about Galaxy Quest to Mathesar, who is heartbroken after learning that Jason and his crew are make-believe. Sarris's men activate the ship's self-destruct sequence, but Jason and Alexander use a gambit from one of the show's episodes to kill the aliens guarding them.
Not knowing how the ship works, Jason then contacts an avid Galaxy Quest fan named Brandon in his suburban home on Earth, using a Vox communicator that he accidentally swapped at a promotional store opening. Brandon and his friends use their extensive knowledge of the ship to help Jason and Gwen abort the self-destruct sequence. When Jason asks Brandon what the Omega 13 does, Brandon says that while some people believe it was a bomb capable of destroying all matter in the universe in 13 seconds, he and others believes it is a time machine that sends its user 13 seconds into the past.
With Jason in command of the Protector, the actors and Thermians destroy Sarris' ship and set course back to Earth. Sarris sneaks aboard the Protector and starts killing the crew, but Jason activates the Omega 13, is sent back in time 13 seconds, and thwarts his attack. As the Thermians take control of the ship, the actors detach the command deck and land on Earth with Brandon's help, accidentally crashing into the building where the Galaxy Quest convention is taking place. They emerge from the wreck to enthusiastic applause from the audience, who assume the crash is part of the entertainment, and when Sarris attacks again, Jason kills him with an Ion Nebulizer (blaster pistol) and receives even greater applause. Later that year Galaxy Quest is revived, starring the original cast, along with Laliari, a female Thermian who chose to stay on Earth as Fred's lover, and with Guy playing the ship's chief of security, "Roc" Ingersol.
- Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith, the actor who played Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart, the captain of the Protector, during the original television run. Jason remains the putative leader of the Galaxy Quest crew members as they travel to conventions and strip mall dedications. He's prone to removing his shirt at the slightest pretext and is said to have had romantic relations with most of the minor female characters who appeared throughout his television career.
- Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DeMarco, the actress who played Lt. Tawny Madison, the Computer Officer of the Protector, who performed communication duties. As the show's female sex symbol, Tawny's job consists largely of repeating communications to and from the computer. Weaver later compared her meta-fictional role as Tawny to her role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien series, describing Tawny as "a stereotypical dumb blonde" who fulfills a useless function in contrast to Ripley's dynamic centrality. It's implied (and believed by enthusiastic female fans at the convention) that Gwen and Jason are romantically interested in each other, though they won't bring themselves to admit this until the film's end.
- Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane, the actor who played Dr. Lazarus of Tev'Meck. Lazarus is a "Mak'tar", a member of an alien species renowned for their intellect. He is deeply intelligent and has psionic abilities. Additionally, he has a non-standard weapon and a pretentious catchphrase: "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!". A trained Shakespearean British actor, Alexander resents both his catchphrase and being typecast. He's the last of the actors to embrace his television role (in order to satisfy the Thermians) and only does so when Quellek (a Thermian who idolizes Dr. Lazarus) dies in his arms.
- Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan, the actor who played Tech Sgt. Chen. Chen is in charge of the engine room and the operator of the "digital conveyor" (a version of the Star Trek transporter). He acts in a detached manner and is completely unfazed by the strange and usually disturbing events that occur. He is the only actor to not be terrified by the experience of transporting through space, merely commenting "That was a hell of a thing." Unlike the other actors, he thoroughly enjoys the entire experience and is completely comfortable with the true form of the aliens; he even falls in love with Laliari.
- Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman, the actor who played "Crewman #6" in the original series and Security Chief "Roc" Ingersoll in the revival. Guy begins the story as a "Questerian" (Trekkie) who had a small role as a disposable redshirt in many episodes of the series and was an emcee at the 18th annual Galaxy Quest Convention, greeting the actors familiarly although they don't recognize him. He spends most of the movie fretting about his imminent demise, which he believes is inevitable for minor characters such as his, showing a difficulty to separate reality from fiction when in (perceived) danger. Ironically, he suffers the fewest injuries of any of the actors during the flight on the Protector. At times his fears based on fiction cliché turn out to be reasonable, as when he prevents Gwen from approaching apparently harmless child-like aliens, who are subsequently revealed to be hostile and cannibalistic. In reaction to this, he exclaims "Didn't you guys ever watch the show?
- Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber / Lt. Laredo, a parody of "boy wonder"-type characters, who has aged considerably since his role. His role as Laredo is essentially that of a pilot, but when he flies the real Protector out of the spaceport, he scrapes it against a wall and it takes him most of the film (and re-watching old Galaxy Quest episodes) to learn to do it properly. Corbin Bleu played Tommy at age 9 during the film's introduction, a "recording" of an original episode.
- Enrico Colantoni as Mathesar, the leader of the Thermians. Mathesar is, like all of his people, an upright octopoid who appears as a white-skinned, gray-clad, black-haired human, speaks in stiff tones of voice, smiles warmly even when in sorrow or fear. As Sarris explains to Jason, Mathesar is incredibly naïve to the truth, as are the others of his crew; however, he remains very loyal to Nesmith and the other actors, still seeing them as heroes. In the end, he develops his own courage, knocks out Sarris, and is proud of being a hero himself. He's also very understanding and empathic, as he lets Laliari stay with Fred on Earth.
- Robin Sachs as Gen. Roth'h'ar Sarris, a warlike humanoid insectoid-reptilian who destroyed the Thermian home planet and most of their race, being bent on their destruction. He's very cruel, unforgiving, deceitful and sadistic, taking pleasure from others' pain.
- Justin Long as Brandon, a devoted Galaxy Quest fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of the show.
- Missi Pyle as Laliari, the Thermian crew member who falls in love with Fred. Although mostly shown in her human form, she exposes her tentacles when embracing Fred after he successfully implements a clever and impressive plan. With the permission of Mathesar, she travels to Earth with Fred and joins him as a cast member of the revived television series, playing a character named "Laliari" while living under the pseudonym "Jane Doe".
- Patrick Breen as Quellek, a Thermian who idolizes the Dr. Lazarus character. He assists Alexander but is initially brushed off by him, especially when he tries to repeat Lazarus' catchphrase. He is later mortally wounded by one of Sarris' men, and while dying, admits to Alexander he considered "Dr. Lazarus" a father figure, motivating Alexander to avenge him.
- Sam Lloyd as Neru, one of the Thermians
- Rainn Wilson as Lahnk, one of the Thermian engineers
Galaxy Quest was a critical success. The film has a 70 percent approval rating on Metacritic from 28 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it received an 89% "freshness" rating and a 7.2/10 average reviewer rating out of 110 reviews. The New York Times's Lawrence Van Gelder called it "an amiable comedy that simultaneously manages to spoof these popular futuristic space adventures and replicate the very elements that have made them so durable". Roger Ebert praised the ability of the film to spoof the "illogic of the TV show".
The Village Voice offered a lukewarm review, noting that "the many eight-to-11-year-olds in the audience seemed completely enthralled".
The film was financially successful. It earned $7,012,630 in its opening weekend, and its total U.S. domestic tally stands at $71,583,916 and it grossed $90,683,916 worldwide.
Reaction quotes from Star Trek actors
- I had originally not wanted to see Galaxy Quest because I heard that it was making fun of Star Trek, and then Jonathan Frakes rang me up and said "You must not miss this movie! See it on a Saturday night in a full theatre." And I did, and of course I found it was brilliant. Brilliant. No one laughed louder or longer in the cinema than I did, but the idea that the ship was saved and all of our heroes in that movie were saved simply by the fact that there were fans who did understand the scientific principles on which the ship worked was absolutely wonderful. And it was both funny and also touching in that it paid tribute to the dedication of these fans. — Patrick Stewart
- I thought it was very funny, and I thought the audience that they portrayed was totally real, but the actors that they were pretending to be were totally unrecognizable. Certainly I don't know what Tim Allen was doing. He seemed to be the head of a group of actors, and for the life of me I was trying to understand who he was imitating. The only one I recognized was the girl playing Nichelle Nichols. — William Shatner, who played James T. Kirk (jokingly sending himself up, as he is the one Allen was parodying)
- I've had flashbacks of Galaxy Quest at the many conventions I've gone to since the movie came out. I thought it was an absolute laugh-a-minute. — Tim Russ, who played the Vulcan Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager
- Yes, I have seen Galaxy Quest and no, Star Trek fandom is not really like that. — Casey Biggs, who played the Cardassian Legate Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- I loved Galaxy Quest. I thought it was brilliant satire, not only of Trek, but of fandom in general. The only thing I wish they had done was cast me in it, and have me play a freaky fanboy who keeps screaming at the actor who played "the kid" about how awful it was that there was a kid on the spaceship. Alas. — Wil Wheaton, who played "the kid" Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation
- I think it's a chillingly realistic documentary. [laughs] The details in it, I recognized every one of them. It is a powerful piece of documentary filmmaking. And I do believe that when we get kidnapped by aliens, it's going to be the genuine, true Star Trek fans who will save the day. ... I was rolling in the aisles. And [star] Tim Allen had that Shatner-esque swagger down pat. And I roared when the shirt came off, and [co-star] Sigourney [Weaver] rolls her eyes and says, 'There goes that shirt again.' ... How often did we hear that on the set? [Laughs.] - George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek: The Original Series
Relation to Star Trek
Galaxy Quest is an acknowledged homage to Star Trek; therefore a variety of elements in the former correspond to those of the latter. The television program within the film, Galaxy Quest, is set around the starship NSEA Protector, an instrument of the National Space Exploration Administration, which are obviously parodies of the USS Enterprise and Starfleet respectively. The prefix of the Protector’s registration number NTE-3120 ostensibly alludes to some sort of similar space federation, but in reality stands for "Not The Enterprise", according to visual effects co-supervisor Bill George in a 2000 interview with Cinefex magazine.
This homage even extended to the original marketing of the movie, including a promotional website intentionally designed to look like a poorly constructed fan website, with "screen captures" and poor HTML coding.
In other media
- In November 1999, Galaxy Quest was novelized by science fiction writer Terry Bisson, who stayed very close to the plot of the movie.
- In December 1999 E!, the US entertainment channel, featured a mockumentary entitled Galaxy Quest: 20th Anniversary, The Journey Continues, concerning the making of the Galaxy Quest television show.
- In 2003, Danish rock band Blindstone recorded a song titled "By Grabthar's Hammer" for their album Manifesto.
- In 2008, IDW Publishing released a comic book sequel to the movie entitled Galaxy Quest: Global Warning.
- On May 12, 2009, a Deluxe Edition DVD was released.
- In Apogee of Fear, filmed in October 2008 and billed as "the first science-fiction movie made in space", NASA astronaut Michael Fincke refers to the need to "fashion weapons out of a rudimentary lathe." Both Michael Fincke and fellow NASA Astronaut Greg Chamitoff deliver the line "Never give up... never surrender."
- In Star Trek Online, players can use a Tipler Cylinder device which has a "dense beryllium cylinder core that rotates at near light speed, allowing your ship to perform a Temporal Backstep and rewind time approximately 13 seconds."
- Nerdcore rapper mc Chris wrote a song entitled 'Never Give Up, Never Surrender' for his album 'mc Chris is dead.'
- There is a feature on the DVD simulating the Omega 13, by reversing the opening sequence to the main menu. If the Omega 13 feature is selected before watching the movie however, it comes up with an "Access Denied" error. Only by watching the movie up to Chapter 19 (or skipping to Chapter 19) will the Omega 13 feature activate. (Chapter 18 of the movie is the chapter in which the Omega 13's power is revealed.)
- Some editions have an alternate audio track in which the dialogue is spoken in the Thermians' language, except for one English word spoken by an alien (shortly after the actors arrive on the ship).
- The 2009 Blu-ray edition of the film includes a tongue-in-cheek trivia commentary called "Galactopedia." Written by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, the Galactopedia purports to be based on Galaxy Quest encyclopedias, technical manuals, and other imaginary books.
- ^ a b c "Galaxy Quest (1999)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=galaxyquest.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
- ^ a b "Interviews: Patrick Stewart - Galaxy Quest (Star Trek Cult)". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/st/interviews/stewart/page13.shtml.
- ^ "The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time | Reader's Digest". Rd.com. http://www.rd.com/family/the-top-100-funniest-movies-of-all-time/2/. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
- ^ a b "George Takei Is Ready To Beam Up". Syfy. Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20090325230032/http://www.scifi.com/startrek/takei/takei2.html.
- ^ "Galaxy Quest Reviews". Metacritic. 1999. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/galaxy-quest. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- ^ "Galaxy Quest Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/galaxy_quest/?critic=columns&sortby=rotten&name_order=asc&view=#mo. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (December 24, 1999). "Yet One More Final Frontier: Fighting Bad Aliens, for Real". New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=1&res=9C02EFD91539F937A15751C1A96F958260&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes&oref=slogin. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- ^ Ebert, Roger (December 24, 1999). "Galaxy Quest". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19991224/REVIEWS/912240303/1023. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- ^ Taubin, Amy (December 28, 1999). "Pulling Punches; 'Star Trek' Trickery". The Village Voice. http://www.villagevoice.com/film/9952,taubin,11362,20.html. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- ^ "Galaxy Quest (1999) - Box Office Mojo<". http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=galaxyquest.htm. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
- ^ Lyall, Sarah (January 27, 2008). "To Boldly Go Where Shakespeare Calls". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/theater/27lyal.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
- ^ Where is my mind? - Tangent WIL WHEATON dot NET, September 24, 2001
- ^ Jody Duncan & Estelle Shay, "Trekking into the Klaatu Nebula", Cinefex 81, April 2000
- ^ Welcome to Travis Latke's Galaxy Quest Vaults
- ^ Galaxy Quest. Ace. November 1, 1999. ISBN 044100718X.
- ^ "Season 6 Dev Blog #29". Perfect World Entertainment. http://sto.perfectworld.com/news/?p=695181.