TBT – Galaxy Quest (1999)

alan rickman, films, parody, review, sci-fi, Star Trek, TBT

So, as we established last week, I’m still in mourning over here. Watching Die Hard reminded me of how good Alan Rickman was so I decided it was best to continue to celebrate his talent for the next few Thursdays. Whilst Die Hard and the Harry Potter films are probably his most loved roles and Robin Hood being another memorable and iconic characters, I’m going to focus on my personal favourites. The films I grew up knowing Alan Rickman from. The films that shaped the way I saw the actor. In his life, Rickman wasn’t incredibly happy about being named one of the greatest actors for playing villains. He had a wicked sense of humour and enjoyed playing light-hearted roles as much as the straight ones. This can be seen most obviously in this 90s Star Trek parody.

Everything about Galaxy Quest is instantly so familiar. The outrageous television plots, a science-fiction convention filled with desperate fans in costume and the washed-up actors arguing backstage. Dean Parisot’s send-up of the Star Trek television show and the Trekkie fandom is not meant to be a criticism of a much-loved franchise. It’s actually an incredibly funny homage to a series that has, and continues to, affect the lives of so many people. So good, that Trekkies once ranked it as the 7th best Star Trek film.

Galaxy Quest is set 18 years after a popular science fiction show has been cancelled. The fans have stayed loyal but the stars are now shining much less brightly than they once were. The series hero, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), still insists on taking the limelight and act like the Commander he’s best known as. When Nesmith and his fellow cast members are taken onboard a real-life spaceship they find themselves in an illogical situation where fact and fiction collide dramatically. They must use their knowledge of the show that made them famous, the knowledge of their loyal fans, and their own dumb luck to save a doomed alien race from the deadly warlord Sarris (Robin Sachs).

Suffice is to say, this film isn’t going to win any awards for being surprising or complicated. It’s your basic ‘aliens think a TV show is real so recreate every detail and place the actors in real peril’ narrative but that doesn’t make it any less pleasing. It takes details everyone, fans or not, will recognise about Star Trek without ever verging on the mean. The portrayal of the fans is extreme but it only thanks to the help of the devout that the crew are able to return to Earth safely. Their in-depth knowledge is the key to success ans as such celebrated instead of ridiculed.

It also boasts a pretty great cast with comic actor Tim Allen excelling in his William Shatner impression. I can’t say I’ve always been a fan of Allen but I love him here. It’s a funny and clever performance. Backed up by some great work from Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman. Both offer incredibly funny performances without ever compromising their well-known talent. Rickman in particular shines in every scene and appears nothing but professional. I love him here.

There is a great deal of humour to be found in the satirical look a science fiction television. The film soars when it really delves into the illogical plots of the episodes. The dramatic scene where our heroes are running through an assault course of mechanisms ready to smush them for no other reason than dramatic tension. There have been plenty of attempts to parody the formulas of shows like Star Trek but Galaxy Quest is by far the most successful. It never loses sight of the importance its source material or the people who love it. Yes, it’s the humour doesn’t always land but it doesn’t matter. It’s damn near perfect.

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