Never give up, never surrender: Galaxy Quest is one of the best Star Trek movies ever made

Next week I will be flying to Las Vegas to join some friends for the official Star Trek convention. I plan on meeting some celebrities, having some great conversations, and generally having a good time (no, I won’t be in costume). I love going to cons, because it’s one of the few places that let me “geek-out” without restraint or consideration for what people think. We all share a common bond, a love for something… And that shared passion makes us all happier than we may be otherwise.

So, I thought it only appropriate in preparation for next weekend’s festivities to rewatch one of the best Star Trek movies ever made: Galaxy Quest.

If you have even a casual knowledge of the movie, you know exactly why I just made that statement… And if you don’t, you may be scratching your head.

Galaxy Quest is a near-damning inditement of all the cliches and tropes that have been played out by the Star Trek franchise for dozens of years… And at the same time, it lovingly embraces all those things and elevates them, producing a rousing and fun piece of entertainment that works in spite of itself.

The premise is brilliant and simple: the actors of a classic TV sci-fi series are suddenly thrust into a real space adventure, with real danger… And at the same time are on a spaceship that is a Erica of the fake one they were “on board” so many years ago. The results are exciting, bitingly satirical and funny as hell.

What really makes it work is the performances. Tim Allen playing William Shatner playing Captain Kirk is fantastic in the lead, and the supporting cast is just as good. Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shaloub, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell… All bring their A-game here.

When I saw this one during its initial release, and in between laughing my ass off, I turned to my better half and told her, “OK, that’s it, Star Trek is done.” I couldn’t think of a way the makers of the film series could continue Galaxy Quest completely destroyed the pillars that the series had been built on. Thankfully, I was wrong, as JJ Abrams brought Trek back in a big way two years ago.

But I still think the makers of modern Trek need to revisit Galaxy Quest on a regular basis, to avoid the comfortable trap that the movie so brilliantly exposes. If you haven’t ever seen Galaxy Quest (and many haven’t, because it underperformed at the box office) you really should. Recommended.

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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