Jade's Trick

Reviews, Spotlights, and Randomosity of all things under the sun.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

"This episode was badly written!" -- Galaxy Quest

... but this movie wasn't.

Galaxy Quest was the first movie I saw on DVD. I vividly remember watching it about a dozen times in a row, marveling about how it has a menu and how you don't have to rewind it (not to mention the Special Features). Perhaps that was why I've left it until now; I remembered it so well it faded into the background. Well, no more. It popped back into the foreground for me when I wrote my Star Wars Episode III review a few weeks ago, and I now give you a more in-depth recommendation.

Galaxy Quest at its roots is parody/satire at its best. The story follows Tim Allen's Jason Nesmith as he goes about his life as a washed-up actor who made his mark as the Commander of the N.E.S.A. Protector of Galaxy Quest, the movie's Star Trek analogue from the early '80s. 18 years later, he and his fellow actors have been reduced to doing various Galaxy Quest-related gigs, including autograph-signing at the annual Galaxy Quest convention, for money, unable to get any other acting work. Awoken by a group of people calling themselves Thermians after a depressing night of hard drinking, Jason finds himself transported through space and commanding a real working version of the Protector fighting a cruel, bipedal, bladed turtle named Sarris. Apparently, the Thermians have mistaken the accidental transmissions of the show into space as so-called "historical documents" sent out purposefully for whoever is interested, and have accordingly modeled their society after the show. After enlisting the help of his fellow actors from the show, Jason goes back to the ship, fights Sarris, and eventually prevails. And hilarity ensues.

Thus movie is a popcorn fare. Although not a particularly Great Work, it manages to be a boatload of fun and funny fancy. It works best if viewed as a very soft SF parody of Star Trek, matching that show extremely well on virtually every count. The "command crew" behind the scenes is how we might envision it really was; the captain, arogant, convinced of his own greatness; the thespian, sorely dissatisfied that he cannot find other acting work and must continue to say the same line over and over to pay the bills; the blonde sexpot, who knowlingly plays a character with no purpose other than to serve as something for the fanboys to droll over. The show itself (we are treated to a few minutes of it) is campy and rather trite, the SF elements questionable at best. All in all, the film makes it easy to believe that this really could have been the way it happened. Similarly, the film also works well as a gently satire. Fun is poked at the campiness, at the Red Shirt expendable glorified extras, and even at the fans (but as I said, it's gentle; no one is really being skewered or anything).

The characters in the movie are multidimensional, vibrant, and still funny; although they are in many ways caricatures, they maintain their humanity and thus remain wholly believable. Character development also thrives here; for example, Jason Nesmith's egotism is a compelling character flaw that he works through.

In keeping with the believability of the characters, there is not a line out of place or a single fake reaction to be found. Superb the acting is, and although little of it is particularly impressive, there are no spots which threaten to remind us that this is, in fact, just a movie. The only "bad" acting is that of the Thermians, and that is very obviously purposeful.

The sound is suitablly camptastic and highly reminiscent of something you very well might hear during one Star Trek episode or another. Orchestral and vocal riffs reign supreme, as do explosions and impacts. Best of all, the sounds support the humor well, bringing many moments to bear right on the funnybone.

Saving the best for last: the humor. This movie is very, very funny. It's really indescribable, but I'll try: it hits all the right notes. First of all, you can't go wrong with actors like Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tony Shalhoub, all of whom have proved their worth here and elsewhere. Second, the lines and the plot lend themselves to excellent humor. Rare is the joke for which the movie had to reach. And third, all the little things, such as the Trekkie-ish extras, the music (already mentioned), and the absurd props. As I said, very, very funny.

And that's pretty much it.

Action: 3.5/5 rocks (Although the action is pretty good, it's not the focus of the movie and thus not a whole lot of time is spent on it).
Acting: 4/5 Berrilium spheres (Very good acting all around. The comic timing is especially good. However, there weren't really any particularly notable acting jobs here).
Comedy: 4.5/5 latex scalps (Very Funny. Kinda like TBS, but better).
Story: 4/5 communication voxes (The story itself is rather interesting, and the parody elements are particularly juicy).
Visuals: 3.5/5 Omega 13s (Good special effects, good sets, good makeup. Goodness all around).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 4/5 magnetic mines (Although it's not the best movie of all time, it is very fun and very enjoyable. It's a great way to spend 100 or so minutes).


Anonymous TCM said...

Good review of a good movie. All your stuff is certainly worth readn

1:07 AM  

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