Paramount Home Entertainment has employed an interesting tactic in 2009 releasing certain films on standard-definition months ahead of their debut on Blu-ray. This was the case with the first three Friday the 13th films, and now it's the case with Galaxy Quest; I don't have the numbers in terms of either awareness or sales, but I wonder how many dutiful consumers pay attention to both editions and choose to wait, as opposed to buying one only to see it become obsolete just a few short months later. In any case, what's most important is that most of all of the films released this way thus far are fan favorites, and especially Galaxy Quest is a classic in its own right, all of which is why the new Blu-ray release is the subject of this week's "Making The (Up) Grade."
What's Already Available: Paramount originally released Galaxy Quest on DVD in May of 2000, and in addition to the film, the single-disc release featured deleted scenes, an "On Location in Space" feature, a Thermian-language audio track, cast and crew bios, and production notes.
Paramount's Deluxe Edition was released on May 12, 2009, and featured a new transfer as well as several new bonus features, including "Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest," "Never Give Up. Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector," "By Grabthar's Hammer, What Amazing Effects," "Alien School - Creating the Thermian Race," "Actors in Space," "Sigourney Weaver Raps" (yes, you read that right), deleted scenes, the Thermian audio track, and the theatrical trailer.
What's In The New Set:
In addition to high-definition presentation of the film, the new Blu-ray includes all of the special features from the Deluxe Edition, as well as "Galactopedia," an interactive text commentary that allows viewers to explore various aspects of the making and mythology of the film.
What's The Difference In The Movie Itself: The presentation on the standard-definition release from earlier this year was definitely an improvement over its predecessor, which lacked vibrancy and color, but there are only subtle differences (if any) since the transfer was presumably the same, except presented on one in compressed standard definition. That said, both are pretty good, offering a terrific clarity and cleanliness that highlights both the chintzy nature of the show-within-a-movie effects and the actual special effects once the characters find themselves in a,, ahem, real science-fiction environment.
What's The Difference In Everything Else: The only real difference between this Blu-ray and its predecessor is the "Galactopedia," but it makes a much bigger difference than one might expect. Authored by Mike and Denise Okuda, the folks who created the invaluable text commentaries on the DVDs for the original Star Trek movies and TV series, the feature offers a comprehensive description and analysis of virtually every aspect of every frame in the film, from the actors, to the "actors," to the characters, to their catchphrases.
While personally I tend to prefer a straightforward text commentary to this more interactive approach to deconstructing a film, the feature is easy to navigate and offers a lot of fun, interesting information. Otherwise, the rest of the materials are all the same, which means that anyone who purchased the SD Deluxe Edition won't be missing too much. That said, "Sigourney Weaver Raps" is the kind of thing that bonus materials were created for, and it's worth checking out in any format even if you don't want to watch anything else on the disc.
What's The Final Grade:B-. Galaxy Quest was sort of misunderstood at the time of its release because many people didn't quite know if it was parody, homage, imitation, or some sort of pastiche, but it has since matured into a loving tribute to fans of science fiction shows and movies, as well as a sweet send-up of the culture that surrounds them, both off and especially on set. This Blu-ray is and should be the definitive version of the film from now until the next format comes along, combining everything from previous editions and adding just one but one key feature that fleshes out the film's world. At the same time, the remainder of the content (including the presentation) isn't significantly improved, so it will ultimately come down to how big a fan of the film you are when determining if Galaxy Quest is the month's must-have Blu-ray.