Last night Raz and I were perusing my collection trying to decide what we wanted to watch. We were both interested in watching a space opera of some kind, and so I was skimming my stuff and rambling off the names of what I had and what format it was on, "…Dune HD-DVD, Enemy Mine DVD, Firefly or Serenity Blu-ray, Flash Gordon DVD, Galaxy Quest DVD…" when I heard the shocking comment, "Never saw it."
I made an executive home theater decision right then and there and we watched Galaxy Quest, which I had not seen for some time prior. It is always a pleasure to be able to screen a movie for somebody that you know in advance they will like, but it is particularly gratifying when their reaction exceeds your expectations. A friend's discovery of a film can make the experience of watching it much fresher even for someone who has seen a movie many times; I had a similar experience a few months ago screening The 13th Warrior for suitboyskin.
One of the best things about Galaxy Quest is that it is uproariously funny as it pokes good-natured fun at film/television science fiction, those who make it and its fans (with particular emphasis, naturally enough, on Star Trek) whilst at the same time satisfying the yen for grand space opera. And indeed, the visual effects are fantastic, as is the film's sound design (my edition featured the 1509kb/s DTS track, and it sounds light years better than most DVDs ever could hope to; I can only imagine how good this title will look and sound when it finally makes it to Blu-ray). And may I just mention how fantastic David Newman's score is? He captures the perfect blend of awe-inspiring palette with a melodramatic 'television' scoring style; part of the humor of the film comes from how straight the music is playing the events of movie.
The Galaxy Quest television series is a work of fiction, but because the amiable ensemble cast (all the more impressive because of some of the heavyweights in it) so nails their chemistry that there is an easy familiarity to it; jailnurse has mentioned on occasion that it is a better Star Trek movie than most of the Star Trek movies. More importantly, it is impossible not to see the affection for both the science fiction tropes it is lampooning as well as the fans themselves (who get their own moment in the sun as well).
If I have one issue with the film, and it is that one of the deleted scenes featuring Alan Rickman is so uproariously funny that it should never have been cut from the film. Interestingly, the DVD presents the opening clip of Galaxy Quest "television footage" in 1.33:1, but then goes directly to 2.35:1 without the Los Angeles sequences being in 1.85:1, as appeared in the 35 millimeter theatrical prints, apparently to avoid "confusion."
Raz and I also compared the "Director's Edition" of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with the theatrical version that appears on Blu-ray. The visual and sonic differences are night and day, and even if the added resolution of high definition reveals matte lines and other anomalies in the special effects (not to mention that many of them were corrected in the "Director's Edition"). There is a level of eye-popping detail to the modelwork in this film which becomes progressively more impressive as the film plays out and more of Vejur is revealed. There is, however, no question that the "Director's Edition" is the superior edit of the movie, for as impressive as that modelwork is, it certainly isn't driving the story forward, earning the film the monicker Star Trek: The Motionless Picture.
Interestingly, having caught up with the "Special Longer Version" on laserdisc a few years ago, I realized exactly how pivotal Star Trek: The Motion Picture to the development of my interest in film music as much for the flaws of the film as anything else. The connection should be obvious: not only is it one of Jerry Goldsmith's greatest scores, but in that ponderous kitchen sink "Special Longer Version" cut, there are long periods of time when that's all that you're hearing. It was easy to be attracted to such sequences as "The Enterprise" and "Leaving Drydock," but the sheer genius of the composer's approach to illustrating Vejur was what made me think about film music from a perspective as intellectual as it was emotional. The music for Vejur evolves from being an unstoppable threat to being a great mystery in the middle to then illustrate the being's yearning and finally its orgasmic euphoria during "The Meld." It could be argued that there is more character development in the score than there is in the film.
Often when a close relationship between a film and its music is being discussed, the term "operatic" comes up, but the word that kept coming back to me as Raz and I compared the two versions of this film was "balletic." The music is emphasizing the grace and beauty of the world of the future that is being depicted in the film, as well as the vast unknown. Part of the reason why the music remains so vibrant thirty years down the line is that both a film and score about ideas, and pretty grand ones at that.