Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary is the latest from Fandom.com, who produced their documentary series, Fandom Uncovered, just last year. The series first two episodes, Defeat Your Demons with Dungeons & Dragons and How Twilight Saved a Town explored fandom and how it changes lives. Both offered unexpected insights into their subject matter and were entertaining. With Never Surrender, producers Roth Cornet, Max Dionne, and director Jack Bennett explore the phenomenon that is Galaxy Quest and the fans who made it a cult classic.
Galaxy Quest is the story of the cast of a Star Trek-esque television show years after the show has been canceled as they attend conventions and supermarket openings. The group is then forced to meet the real-life challenge when aliens beam them up and ask them to defend their ship against a genocidal enemy. The film boasts a miraculous cast including: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Alan Rickman, Enrico Colantoni, Tony Shalhoub, and Justin Long. It’s a remarkable comedy that was perhaps ahead of its time. Galaxy Quest was released by Dreamworks in 1999 to a middling box office but caught on later on home video and television. It has now built a cult around itself since then just like Star Trek and the fictional Galaxy Quest show.
Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary is the story of the film and its following and features interviews with director Dean Parisot, the producers, and the stars as well as a group of adoring fans for whom the film has special meaning. The interviews with Allen, Weaver, Rockwell, Colantoni, and the other actors and producers Elizabeth Cantillon and Mark Johnson are entertaining and give us an idea of what it was like to make the movie. For instance, they tell the story of how Harold Ramis was originally slated to direct the film but dropped out over the difference in vision that led to casting Tim Allen as the lead.
The film also features interviews with some Galaxy Quest fans, including cosplayers who express their love for the film openly. There’s a sincerity and a kindness to them that endears them to us. In addition, Never Surrender gives us a more global perspective by including interviews with other icons of the sci-fi genre and major players in show business such as: Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Greg Berlanti, and Damon Lindelof, all of whom love Galaxy Quest and offer the unique perspective of being both fans and industry professionals.
Making a documentary about the fandom of a film that’s about fandom is challenging. The filmmakers were able to avoid the pitfalls of going full meta, which could have led to them swallowing their own tails. Instead they were able to remain objective while still painting a loving picture of the film, its creators and stars, and its fans. This film is a love letter to all those involved: the filmmakers, the stars, and the fans.
Galaxy Quest was released in 1999, and it still holds up more than 20 years later. This documentary celebrates the legacy of Galaxy Quest and is a testament to the power of movies, fandom, and how great art can persevere. If you love Galaxy Quest, Never Surrender is required viewing. If you’re a sci-fi fan who hasn’t seen Galaxy Quest, watch that and then watch Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary.