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#395. Galaxy!

Every evening, when humans look up at the sky and see the stars twinkling above, many of them wonder what lies beyond our galaxy. Sure, we’ve explored outer space a little bit, but there’s so much more we haven’t even gotten close to discovering outside our solar system. This speculation of what lies beyond the sun’s gravitational pull has fueled science fiction writers for decades. With so much potential in the galaxies beyond our own, the results are almost fantasy in comparison. Over time, computer technology has improved to the point where filmmakers can also capture the wonder and awe tied to the unknown beyond the galaxy. While the science of these movies might not be accurate, they help answer the “what if” questions. This week’s two films focus on settings located in far-off galaxies.

Guardians of the GalaxyChris Pratt
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes / 2.02 hours

With the current limitations of physics preventing humans from exploring the rest of the galaxy, there’s a lot we don’t know about when it comes to the beings and technologies located in other galaxies. Many people consider humans to be “alone” in our galaxy, but that still doesn’t stop many others from searching for other forms of sentient life. Others are convinced that we have been visited by aliens from distant galaxies. These visitors have allegedly abducted humans from Earth, but what if these humans eventually learned to live their lives in these new galaxies? While humans would be rare in these situations, we’d still have a unique perspective that likely wouldn’t be present in other alien communities. Could humans use these attributes to save the very galaxy that so few of them have visited?

Despite being abducted as a child in the late 1980s, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has made the best of the situation and is now traipsing across the galaxy under the pseudonym of “Star-Lord.” As a treasure-hunter and mercenary, Peter finds himself in possession of an orb that has attracted the attention of several individuals. After an incident on Xandar, the individuals who want the sphere have been captured and sent to jail in the Kyln. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) team up with Peter, who also manages to convince Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to not kill Gamora and join them on a mission to confront Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) instead. When the orb is revealed to hold an Infinity Stone, the fight is on to protect the galaxy by preventing Ronan from giving the power to Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Galaxy Quest!Galaxy Quest!
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

When something becomes popular enough, eventually it becomes a parody of itself. Movies like Spaceballs (1987) made fun of Star Wars (1977) for the somewhat ridiculous space opera that it is. Similarly, the original 1960s run of Star Trek has spawned numerous parodies over the years. With a cultural influence that can’t be ignored, Star Trek has been lampooned by other television shows like The Orville (which itself actually takes the ideas presented in Star Trek pretty seriously). In terms of movies, though, Star Trek’s one notable parody would have to be Galaxy Quest! (1999). The original series of Star Trek was so ridiculous by the standards of the late-1990s, that it was easy to create a somewhat “meta” comedy based on the television series that has lasted for so long and spawned numerous imitators.

After the show Galaxy Quest became a cult sensation, fans began holding regular conventions for it. The cast of the show would regularly make appearances at these conventions, especially Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who portrayed the lead, Commander Peter Quincy Taggart. When he agrees to help the “Thermians” during a convention, he quickly learns aliens are real and that they used the television show to construct a working replica of the spaceship. Unfortunately, while the specifications for the ship were mentioned in Galaxy Quest, none of the aliens who made it know how it works. Enlisting the help of his former cast mates, Jason has to overcome their perception of him as a narcissist to help the Thermians defeat Sarris (Robin Sachs), a warlord who wants to see the Thermians exterminated.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great galactic adventures

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