It is with a heavy heart that I must report to you that Star Trek is officially dead. What “Blazing Saddles” did for the Western genre, “Galaxy Quest” will do to the Trek film. As soon as a genre reaches the point of parody, and Trek got there a long time ago, its life is over. I don’t think I can even watch a Star Trek episode or any of the movies with a straight face now. What’s really interesting is that this clever story might have actually worked well with the cast of the original Star Trek itself.
Assembled at a convention, we meet the cast of “Galaxy Quest,” a cheesy 70s sci-fi television show. Lt. Tawny Madison (Sigourney Weaver and her breasts), Dr. Lazarus (Alan Rickman) and Commander Peter Quincy Taggart (Tim Allen) and others are gathered for the big show. Of course, their acting careers are a joke as they are all reduced to signing autographs at conventions or opening the occasional shopping mall. Enter the biggest geeks on the planet, only they’re not actually from this planet. A group of gothic-looking Vulcan-types called Thermians recruit Taggart to come to their starship to help them do battle with a race of lizard-like alien baddies bent on the peaceful race’s destruction. The Thermians believe that the transmissions of the old television show to be historical records of the adventures of the crew of the NSEA Protector. In a hangover stupor, Taggart fires on the aliens unknowingly escalating the war. After suddenly realizing this space battle is for real, Taggart aims to set aside his enormous ego and reteam with his old crew mates, er, actor pals, the ones he has alienated over the years, to defeat the alien threat. What results is a hilarious spoof of Trek and Trek fandom. While “Galaxy Quest” could have easily taken potshots at geeks, rather the film acts as more of a celebration of these sometimes misguided devotees. Anyone who has been a fan of Trek, especially the classic series, will marvel at the number of inside jokes about fandom. What’s even more ironic is that once the humor is set aside, there is a really good sci-fi action movie at the core. The special effects are astounding, from the classic starship battles, to alien mine fields, to computer-generated aliens, to inventive new technology. In fact, “Galaxy Quest” is perhaps the best true Star Trek film in years since it is firmly rooted in the values of the classic Trek series.
Unfortunately, the film has been cut to a PG rating, and some of the material has been dumbed down for kids. (A few boob jokes and some swearing were cut along with some of the smart humor.) However, it hardly detracts from what is ultimately a highly-entertaining movie. It’s interesting to note that Tim Allen’s character was supposed to be played by Alec Baldwin, which would have elevated most of the camp material. Can you imagine Alec Baldwin doing a Shatner imitation? Tim Allen has fun with the part but Baldwin would have been genius.
Bottom line: “Galaxy Quest” is the best Star Trek movie since “The Wrath of Khan.”