What's the Best 'Star Trek' Movie and Why Is It 'Galaxy Quest'? New Documentary Has Answers

"Galaxy Quest" follows the cast of a "Star Trek"-esque TV show on a hilarious and heartbreaking journey. "Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary," a new documentary about the cult classic film tells the stories behind the beloved movie.
"Galaxy Quest" follows the cast of a "Star Trek"-esque TV show on a hilarious and heartbreaking journey. "Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary," a new documentary about the cult classic film tells the stories behind the beloved movie. (Image credit: Paramount Pictures/Dreamworks)

"Never Give Up, Never Surrender," — a new "Galaxy Quest" documentary, highlights the magic of the 1999 film. The flick earned its "cult classic" status by putting sci-fi superfans in the role of the hero and perfectly balancing the subtleties of comedy and drama. 

The documentary, "Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary," comes from the entertainment platform Fandom, which, along with the online movie magazine and YouTube channel Screen Junkies (which is owned and operated by Fandom), aired the film's debut screening on Oct. 5 at New York Comic Con

"Never Surrender" features intimate interviews with almost the entire cast of the original film (excluding, of course and sadly, Alan Rickman, who died in 2016), including actors Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Justin Long and Sam Rockwell. The film also interviews writers, the film's director and other behind-the-scenes people who made the film possible. "Never Surrender" even features cameos from sci-fi legends like "Star Trek" actor Wil Wheaton and "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof.

Related: What Makes a 'Star Trek' Fan? Costumed Trekkies Share Stories 

This documentary explains why, despite an initially disappointing turnout at the box office, "Quest" has become one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time. It was even dubbed "the best 'Star Trek' movie" by Wheaton in the documentary, despite being, well, not a "Star Trek" movie.

"Galaxy Quest" isn't unique because it's a sci-fi parody. Other films, like "Spaceballs," spoofed "Star Wars" and other sci-fi classics, but there has always been something unique about "Quest." As the documentary explores, the film isn't a campy or "cheesy" spoof movie; it isn't strictly a comedy (though I believe anyone would be hard-pressed to watch it without cracking up at least once).

Small spoilers ahead 

It's a movie with real heart. While you might giggle as a panicked, rambling Rockwell says, "My character isn't important enough for a last name, because I'm gonna die 5 minutes in," while descending to an alien planet, you may soon have tears in your eyes as Quellek the Thermian dies in the arms of Alexander Dane, or Dr. Lazarus (Rickman).

"It's this little movie. It's not a part of a franchise. It was just made by pure heart alone by a lot of people, and because of that heart, I think, it had a massive, lasting impact," Roth Cornet, a producer on the documentary who additionally works as the head of creative development for Screen Junkies and Fandom, told Space.com.

And the documentary similarly has a few tender, teary-eyed moments. For example, with the mention of Rickman, who passed before a proposed "Galaxy Quest" series on Amazon could be realized, it is hard to not feel sentimental as the cast, one by one, describes what it was like to work with him and how badly they all miss him. "If you love Alan Rickman, that's the moment for me, when we talk about Alan passing. I got choked up," Cornet said

The documentary has a few surprising, heartbreaking and hilarious tidbits about Rickman you can look forward to. 

The team behind this documentary has considered it a passion project and has pushed to make it happen, Cornet said. "Something like this highlights [that] when people love something and they come together, it can really, really, really have a huge impact on their whole life, even just a little movie about a TV show. And we're making a documentary about a movie about a TV show," she added about the meta nature of the documentary, which dives into a movie about actors in a "Star Trek"-esque television show. 

Cornet added that the creators aimed for the documentary to be "an hour and 25 minutes of delight." And in my humble opinion, it is just that. 

"Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary" will premiere on Nov. 26 at over 600 theaters across the U.S. as part of a one-day-only Fathom event. A full list of participating theaters and tickets will be available Oct. 17 at www.FathomEvents.com. The documentary will become more broadly available in December, to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the original film.

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.