Galaxy Quest

USA 1999

Reviewed by Kim Newman


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

The US, the present. Cancelled in 1983, the television show Galaxy Quest remains the subject of a fanatical cult following. The stars of the show - egotistical Jason Nesmith (Commander Peter Quincy Taggart), Gwen DeMarco (Tawny Madison), Alexander Dane (alien Dr Lazarus), Fred Kwan (Technical Sergeant Chen) and grown-up child-star Tommy Webber (Pilot Laredo) - are reunited at a Quest convention. Nesmith is approached by Mathesar, a real alien from the planet Thermia. Mathesar's civilisation has no concept of fiction and takes the television heroes for the real thing. Aboard a working replica of the spaceship Protector, Nesmith is asked to negotiate with alien-tyrant Sarris and, thinking this is an acting job, orders an attack. Later, he persuades his fellow cast members, plus bit-player Guy Fleegman (once a nameless victim on the show), to join in the quest.

Escaping Sarris, the crew visit a desolate planet and secure a replacement for a damaged power source which enables the actors to approximate their on-screen heroics. Sarris catches up with the ship and Nesmith is forced to reveal to Mathesar he's only an actor, but - using a comm-link to obsessive Quest fans on Earth for guidance - Nesmith is able to save the day. The Thermians take over the ship and the crew return to the convention, where Nesmith finishes off Sarris before an audience of Quest fans. A new series of Galaxy Quest goes into production, with Guy joining the crew.


Positing a fictional science-fiction series whose actors are suddenly whisked off by real aliens for an adventure, Galaxy Quest evokes the universe of Star Trek producer Gene Roddenberry with a keen awareness of such shows' potential absurdities and tackiness. Bit-part actor Guy worries he's the expendable crew member due a horrible early death until it's suggested he might be the "plucky comic relief"; a trip through the starship is needlessly dangerous and complex, prompting Gwen to protest, "This was a badly written episode." It also embodies the ship-in-a-bottle utopia of Star Trek far more successfully than any of the pompous or camp feature films Paramount has spun out of its tattered franchise. While managing to satirise Trek, its famously testy cast and its obsessive fans without real viciousness, it's still exactly the sort of picture which could be shown at a Star Trek convention.

It's an obvious ploy to have a character move from being a cynical-but-pathetic has-been to a gloryhound fantasist to a genuine hero, but Tim Allen's Nesmith/Taggart is a respectful evocation of the mix of bedrock decency and naughty-boy rebellion that characterised William Shatner's Captain Kirk. This is one of Allen's more comfortable big-screen roles, even when he takes on such Shatner/Kirk staples as a shirtless scene and a mock punch-up with his alien best friend. Sigourney Weaver, always an underrated comedienne, finds a moment of real strength when she insists on doing her scripted job (repeating everything the ship's computer says) no matter how stupid it is, and goes along gamely with the adolescent premise by showing more and more cleavage as the perils increase.

The concept is not entirely original, having precedents in The Last Starfighter, where a video-games champion was needed to win a space war, and the cable series Adventures of Captain Zoom, in which the vain star of a 50s sci-fi show is asked to become a real hero by a race like Quest's Thermians. However, this is a far healthier production which flits easily between showing the lightly caricatured world of Quest fandom (nerds bombard actors with technical questions, dumpy women in unflattering uniforms stand around mooning over middle-aged matinee idols), the career afterlives of former stars and adventure. Aside from spaceship sets whose clean, television sci-fi look still feels like a 'real' environment, there are genuinely imaginative special effects which manage to be recognisably in the spirit of the cheesy originals.

The plot creates tension between the go-it-alone heroism of Allen's character and the grumbling of his often-overshadowed crew. But the film accords each cast member funny bits of business - after a space battle, a terrified Alan Rickman leaves the ship's bridge with the cry of, "I'm looking for a pub" - and there are amusing sub-plots. Tony Shalhoub's Kwan misses a crucial revelation and so is much more casual about dire peril than his teammates, while Sam Rockwell's Guy incredulously exclaims as the crew wander into danger, "Didn't you watch the show?" After finally impressing on the others he might really be endangered, Gwen makes the supremely unreassuring statement: "Let's get out of here before something eats Guy."


Dean Parisot
Mark Johnson
Charles Newirth
David Howard
Robert Gordon
David Howard
Director of Photography
Jerzy Zielinski
Don Zimmerman
Production Designer
Linda Descenna
David Newman
©DreamWorks LLC
Production Company
DreamWorks Pictures presents a Mark Johnson production
Executive Producer
Elizabeth Cantillon
Suzann Ellis
Sona Gourgouris
Associate Producer
Allegra Clegg
Production Controller
Jim Turner
Production Co-ordinator
Debra James
Unit Production Manager
Charles Newirth
Location Manager
Liz Matthews
Martin Cohen
Erica Frauman
Sven E. Fahlgren
2nd Unit Directors
Andy Armstrong
Stefen Fangmeier
Assistant Directors
Vincent Lascoumes
Philippe Dupont
Kristin Killey
2nd Unit/Bluescreen:
Michele Panelli-Venetis
Script Supervisor
Kerry Lyn McKissick
Debra Zane
Terri Taylor
ADR Voice:
Barbara Harris
2nd Unit/Bluescreen Director of Photography
David Boyd
Robert La Bonge
David Drzewiecki
Camera Operators
Bill Barber
Tom Connole
Steadicam Operator
Bill Brummond
Special Visual Effects/Animation
Industrial Light & Magic
ILM Visual Effects Producer:
Kim Bromley
Visual Effects Producer:
Robert Stadd
Visual Effects Co-ordinator:
Christopher Claisse
Visual Effects Supervisor:
Bill George
Co-visual Effects Supervisor:
Ed Hirsh
Visual Effects Associate Supervisor:
Ben Snow
Creative Adviser:
Stefen Fangmeier
Visual Effects Associate Producer:
Janet Lewin
Computer Graphics Supervisor:
Dan Goldman

Compositing Supervisor:
Marshall Krasser
Visual Effects Art Director:
Alex Jaeger
Visual Effects Director of Photography:
Patrick Sweeney
Practical Model Supervisor:
Brian Gernand
Digital Colour Timing Supervisor:
Kenneth Smith
Motion Control Camera Operator:
Carl Miller
Chief Model Makers:
Barbara Affonso
Charlie Bailey
Carol Bauman
Donald Bies
Fon Davis
John Duncan
Grant Imahara
Michael Lynch
Scott McNamara
Tony Preciado
Kim Smith
Steve Walton
Model Makers:
Brian Dewe
Robert M. Edwards
David Fogler
Mark Fiorenza
Tim Gillett
Nelson Hall
Aaron Haye
Peggy Hrastar
Michael Jobe
Richard Miller
David M. Murphy
Ben Nichols
Alan Peterson
Tom Proost
Mark Siegel
Chris Reed
Mark Walas
Danny Wagner
Computer Graphics Sequence Supervisor:
Henry Preston
Lead Compositor:
Jeff Doran
Computer Graphics Artists:
Mimi Abers
Shadi Almassizadeh
Al Bailey
Kathleen Beeler
Aron Bonar
Patrick Brennan
Billy Brooks
Mario Capellari
Jay Cooper
Caitlin Content
David Deuber
Gonzalo Escudero
Raúl Essig
Todd Fulford
Jim Hagedorn
Andrew Hardaway
Polly Ing
David Hisanaga
Dorne Heubler
Erich Ippen
Hilmar Koch
Jonathan Litt
Craig Lyn
Stuart Maschwitz
Michael Min
David Parrish
Bruce Powell
Ricardo Ramos
Philippe Rebours
Tom Rosseter
Douglas Sutton
Massimiliano Rocchetti
Samson Kao
Catherine Tate
Chad Taylor
Susan Weeks
Colie Wertz
Ken Ziegler
Rita Zimmerman
Animation Lead:
Linda Bel
Scott Benza
Andrew Doucette
Andrew Grant
Mark Powers
David Sidley
Victoria Livingstone
Ken King
Tom St. Amand
Kim Thompson
Lead Viewpoint Artist:
Ron Woodall
Digital Modeller:
Andrew Cawrse
3D Camera Matchmove Supervisor:
Michael Halsted
Lead Digital Paint Artist:
Katharine Baird
Digital Paint/Roto Artists:
Chris Bayz
Scott David
Deborah Fought
Amy Shepard
Cameron Griffin
Erin West
Jiri Jacknowitz
C. Andrew Nelson
Digital Matte Artists:
Ronn Brown
Ivo Horvat
Yusei Uesugi
Visual Effects Co-ordinators:
David Gray
Amanda Montgomery
Paula Nederman
Visual Concept Designers:
John Goodson
Erich Rigling
Animatic Artists:
James Smentowski
Christopher Stillman
Miniature Crash Director of Photography:
Patrick Turner
Miniature Crash Stage Manager:
David Dranitzke
Lead Pyro Technician:
Geoff Heron
Miniature Crash Co-ordinator:
Luke O'Byrne
Visual Effects Editor:
Tim Eaton
Film Scanning Supervisor:
Joshua Pines
Film Scanning Operators:
Earl Beyer
George Gambetta
Digital Plate Restoration:
Maria Goodale
Katrina Stovold
Software Development:
David Benson
Alan Trombla
ILM Senior Staff:
Patricia Blau
Gail Currey
Jeff Mann
Rock Monster Character Design Unit
Industrial Light & Magic
Digital Creature Model Supervisor:
Geoff Campbell
Technical Animation Supervisor:
James Tooley
Animation Lead:
Scott Wirtz
CG Sequence Lead:
Ed Kramer
CG Modeller:
Li-Hsien Wei
Special Effects Supervisor
Matt Sweeney
Special Effects Foremen
Manny Epstein
Lucinda Strub
Jay M. Hirsch
Fred Tessaro
Special Effects
Christine Onesky
William N. Greene III
Robert Simokovic
Graphic Consultant
Beth Siegel
Animation Supervisor
Chris Armstrong
Art Director
Jim Nedza
Set Designers
Robert Fechtman
Dianne Wager
Colin de Rouin
Dawn Swiderski
Set Decorator
Ric McElvin
Production Illustrators
Warren Manser
Wil M. Rees
Storyboard Artist
David Lowery
Costume Designer
Albert Wolsky
Costume Supervisor
Robert Q. Mathews
Key Make-up Artists
Hallie D'Amore
Ve Neill
Make-up Artists
William Corso
Robin Neal-Luce
Alien Make-up/Creature Effects
Stan Winston
Alien Make-up/
Animatronic Effects
Stan Winston Studio
Effects Supervisors:
Shane Patrick Mahan
Christopher Swift
Concept Art Director:
Mark 'Crash' McCreery
Animatronic Effects Supervisors:
Richard Landon
Christian Colquhoun
J. Alan Scott
Concept Artists:
Berni Wrightson
Wayne Barlowe
Simon Bisley
Lindsay MacGowan
Key Artists:
Scott Stoddard
Gregory Figiel
Jason Matthews
Kevin McTurk
Mark Jurinko
Jim Charmatz
Paul Mejias
Nick Marra
Rob Ramsdell
Rob Phillips
Trevor Hensley
John Rosengrant
Doug Stewart
Joey Orosco
Jordu Schell
Key Animatronic Design:
Rich Haugen
Matt Heimlich
Jeff Edwards
Kirk Skodis
Animatronic Department:
Ewald Schuster
George Berota
Glenn Derry
David Schwab
Alexander Machold
Evan Schiff
Alfred Sousa
Ryan French
Art/Mold Technical Department Supervisor:
Tony McCray
Art Mold Technical Department:
Darin Bouyssou
Lou Diaz
Grady Holder
Keith Marbory
Gary Pawlowski
Michael Ornelaz
Eric Ostroff
Gary Yee
Carey Jones
Brian Stiver
Mike Harper
Dave Beneke
Mark Viniello
Fabrication Department:
Beth Hathaway
Connie Cadwell
Joanne Bloomfield
Steve Fink
Chris Walker
Alon Dori
Executive in Charge of Operations:
Tara Meaney-Crocitto
Production Co-ordinator:
Stiles White
Key Hairstylist
Candace Neal
Joy Zapata
Romy Fleming
Pacific Title Digital
Synthesizer Programming
Marty Frasu
Xandy Janko
David Newman
Executive in Charge of Music
Todd Homme
Supervising Music Editor
Jeff Carson
Music Editor
J.J. George
John Kurlander
Sound Design
Richard Beggs
Production Sound Mixer
Lee Orloff
Re-recording Mixers
Tom Johnson
Lora Hirschberg
Ronald G. Roumas
Mix Technician
Jurgen Scharpf
Digital Transfers
Jonathan Greber
Christopher Barron
Supervising Sound Editor
Tim Holland
Dialogue Editors
Claire Graybill
Ewa Sztompke Oatfield
Sound Effects Editors
J.R. Grubbs
Karen Wilson
Hugh Waddell
Cary Stratton
Joan Chamberlain
Dean Drabin
Ann Hadsell
Jessica Gallavan
Margie O'Malley
Marnie Moore
Jim Pasque
Frank Rinella
Ben Conrad
Steve Fantano
Bruce Lacey
Stunt Co-ordinator
Andy Armstrong
Tim Allen
Jason Nesmith
Sigourney Weaver
Gwen DeMarco
Alan Rickman
Alexander Dane
Tony Shalhoub
Fred Kwan
Sam Rockwell
Guy Fleegman
Daryl Mitchell
Tommy Webber
Enrico Colantoni
Robin Sachs
Patrick Breen
Missi Pyle
Jed Rees
Justin Long
Jeremy Howard
Kaitlin Cullum
Jonathan Feyer
Corbin Bleu
Tommy, aged 9
Wayne Péré
Samuel Lloyd
Bill Chott
Morgan Rusler
Gregg Binkley
Brandon Michael DePaul
Paul G. Kubiak
Greg Colbrook
Jennifer Manley
shy girl
John Patrick White
Todd Giebenhain
teens in the bathroom
J.P. Manoux
excited alien
Dan Gunther
Matt Winston
Brandon Keener
Dian Bachar
nervous tech
Rainn Wilson
Susan Egan
Heidi Swedberg
Brandon's mom
Isaac C. Singleton Jr
Sarris' guard
Jerry Penacoli
Joel McKinnon Miller
warrior alien
Kevin Hamilton McDonald
Daniel T. Parker
alien fan
Dawn Hutchins
inventory clerk
Joe Frank
voice of the computer
Lawrence Richards
Mic Tomasi
Thermian greeters
Christian Colquhoun
Richard Landon
Kirk Skodis
Matt Heimlich
Beth Hathaway
Chris Swift
Jeff Edwards
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
9,210 feet
102 minutes 20 seconds
Dolby digital/Digital DTS sound
In Colour
Prints by
Anamorphic [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011