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Galaxy Quest

galaxy quest

Background
It was May half term holiday of 1999. I’d had a crush on this lad in the year above who I’d met in September that academic year. He’d asked me out for that holiday and we were meant to go and see Kevin and Perry Go Large (something that, to this day, I’ve yet to see). Being in the year above, he was already 15 and the plan was for him to buy my ticket.

He didn’t show. I tried to get in anyway, along with my supportive friends. No luck and we were shamefully turned away. However, I suggested Galaxy Quest as an alternative (and my secret preference as I’d never seen the Harry Enfield Show). They laughed and we went to the park instead.

During the summer of the same year my aunt had taken me to Windsor. The hotel had Galaxy Quest on the TV; for a fee. Not a chance. I was starting to feel like I was not destined to see this film.

Then, the best thing happened; my brother bought it on VHS. It was at the height of my cinematic education from my brother; Leon, Spinal Tap, the Alien franchise and Sixth Sense had all been screened.

We watched this with something else. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I do have a sneaking suspicion it was End of Days, but I am clutching at straws.

I loved this movie more than I thought I would. Tim “the tool man” Taylor alongside the dude from Men in Black being weirder, funnier and more present and Ripley! Not looking as scary as 8 year old me remembered. Finally, my favourite guy, pre Harry Potter and Dogma crush; Hans Gruber and Sheriff of Nottingham himself; Alan Rickman. (Yes! Crush. Between Rickman, Siddig and Head… I was firmly pigeonholed in school as the girl with the thing for ‘older guys’)

Galaxy Quest was Star Trek, but better. Then my dad got a hold of the video and watched it repeatedly like a 2 year old discovering Fireman Sam or TMNT. Galaxy Quest lost its appeal for a little while. However, despite the tarnish, I always wished I’d seen it in the cinema.

January 2016, I checked my phone at lunchtime to many people checking if I was okay having heard the news; Alan Rickman had died. After I had cried and nursed my broken heart, I put on Galaxy Quest. Not Dogma, not Die Hard which was the film that kept me company on Friday nights when most people my age were entering clubs, pubs and bars.

My two previous attempts to see this movie in the cinema failed, so I was determined this weekend; it didn’t matter if anyone could go with me. In fact I wanted to go alone. I’d put so much stock into this movie that it was personal.

It has its flaws, I won’t pretend otherwise, but it still holds up more than some of the Star Treks and with more charm and grace too.

 

The Good
The cast is flawless. I could bleat on for hours about each one, so I’m going to restrict myself to three; Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalob and Sigourney Weaver.

Sam, Sam, Sam. During my first watch, he creeped me out. I didn’t know if it was the ‘tache or his manner, but I just wanted him off the film. However, a decade later he’s by far my favourite character. Rockwell represents the Red Shirt trope with refreshing ease. Trying to avoid death Rockwell brings us some of the film’s funniest lines. His development from  Red Shirt to comic relief is like he’s on a journey to Oz; he had it all along.

Tony’s Fred is weed, personified. It went over my head as a teen, but now being educated on the films of Rogan, Franco et al; Fred is a grade A stoner. While the character has only ever been surpassed by Fran Kranz from Cabin in the Woods, I truly love this almost meta approach to the characteristics of a stoner.

Fred’s oblivious responses to impending chaos is priceless, his teamwork approach is genius and there is the nice touch that I’d missed without seeing it on the big screen; he even takes a bag of munchies with him on the away mission.

Sigourney Weaver. My hero. Something I’d not fully acknowledged until recently but for me she is the strong female lead society claim we have always been missing. There’s the obvious (Alien), the funny (Ghostbusters) and there’s the powerful (Dave, Working Girl).

She often plays someone who is strong, confident and useful so it’s refreshing to play against her typecasting; blonde, ornamental and bleeding sexuality. It’s interesting that even in Alien, stripped of all her clothes, it’s hard to see it as gratuitous; the environment is too sterile and the action has purpose.

And boy, does she have fun in GQ. She holds her own, ensures she does her stupid job. She acknowledges it’s pointless, but if she’s got to do it she’ll do it well. At no point does it feel contrived. Won’t lie, I would have liked to have seen another female character other than Missy Pyle’s Jane Doe, which leads me to…

 

The Bad
While there is no doubt Sigourney Weaver represents a strong female character, there is a lack of a wider female presence. Yes, we have the ever-amazing Missy Pyle however, at no point do Jane and Gwen interact.

In a film that is overtly meta, it really is a shame that it didn’t highlight the plight of female characters in Star Trek of Old and the successful progression we have seen; from Uhura to Janeway. I’d have liked to have seen the lone female in Justin Long’s crew have a few more lines for a start.

The Nifty
The aliens on the planet with the spheres. They are perfect; the scene is brilliant and executed flawlessly. From Guy’s warnings and ominous predictions to Gwen’s fawning and Alex’s misdirection; it’s orchestrated to a beautiful, breath taking, rib tickling tune.

The aliens! They’re cute, they’re adorable and you’d want to hug them. Except under that cutesy Ewok-like exterior lies a ferocious bastard. Out come the teeth and violence. It’s a trick some other films could have done with.

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