DreamWorks

This morning, fans worldwide were saddened to learn that Alan Rickman has died after a battle with cancer. The British actor was 69, the same age at which we lost David Bowie earlier this week.

Whatever your preferred genre of movie, there is an Alan Rickman classic for you. Be it Die Hard, Love Actually, Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesSense and Sensibility, or the Harry Potter franchise, the one-time member of the Royal Shakespeare Company did it all.

Rickman immortalized characters like Severus Snape and Hans Gruber, but I have no doubt which entry on his extensive résumé I'm most thankful for: The 1999 sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest.

DreamWorks

Have you seen it? If not, watch it today (it's on Netflix, so you have no excuse). The movie follows the cast of an eponymous TV show, a long-shelved sci-fi cult favorite that bears more than a passing resemblance to Star Trek. A friendly alien race—mistakenly believing the Galaxy Quest episodes they've seen to be non-fiction "historical documents"—beam the washed-up actors aboard their spaceship to save them when the future of their species is in peril.

Advertisement

Co-starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Tony Shalhoub, Galaxy Quest is close to perfect. The heart of the movie is Rickman's Alexander Dane, a serious Shakespearean actor who's been thanklessly typecast since playing the Galaxy Quest crew's resident scientist, Dr. Lazarus, a Spock-esque alien with a prosthetic headpiece and a clunky catchphrase.

In contrast to Jason Nesmith, Allen's attention-craving take on William Shatner, Dane is far more doubtful about the unusual circumstances in which he and his former castmates have found themselves. As a general rule, life is unfair to this man, as when their alien hosts prepare food for the actors based on their supposed origins: Nesmith enjoys a human-appropriate steak, while Dane is served a squirming bowl of insects.

This is an incredibly funny movie, but watching Dane overcome his resentment and self-pity to embrace his capacity for heroism—particularly as he becomes a mentor for a young alien, Quellek (Patrick Breen)—is what makes an incredibly touching one, too.

Sponsored

Serving equal parts comedy and pathos, Rickman's full range of talents is on display here: Galaxy Quest is truly one of his best performances. And by Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, he shall be remembered.

Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.