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Wing Commander (1999) March 31, 2005

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Hollywood in 1990s provided many arguments to those claiming that movies based on video games were bad idea. On the other hand, there was MORTAL KOMBAT to prove those critics wrong, and, even more importantly, WING COMMANDER, extremely popular space combat simulation which, in its latter instalments, successfully merged interactive videogame with live movie-like action. Because of that, it seemed like WING COMMANDER is videogame most suitable to become successful feature film. Chris Roberts, who had created the game, became director of feature film version in 1999.

The plot begins in 25th Century when humanity, after five centuries of spreading through galaxy, stumbles into hostile alien race known as Kilrathi. This leads to war during which Kilrathi manage to get hold of NAVCOM, super-secret space navigation device of Terran Confederation Navy and thus become able to attack Earth before main forces of TCN could do anything about it. The only thing standing between Earth and Kilrathi is “Tiger’s Claw”, TCN ship commanded by Paul Gerald (played by Jürgen Prochnow). He receives his orders together with two fresh pilots – Todd “Maniac” Marshall (played by Matthew Lillard) and Christopher “Maverick” Blair (played by Freddie Prinze Jr.). Before the actual combat, Blair, whose mother was Pilgrim – human genetically altered in order to travel through space, must fight racial prejudice and hostility of Jeanette “Angel” Deveraux (played by Saffron Burrows), fighter wing commander who happens to be attractive woman.

Like many films based on video games, WING COMMANDER turned into disaster – original fan base was too limited for commercial sucess, while critics universally dropped vitriol on it. Main problem of WING COMMANDER is the one shared by many films based on video games – lack of interaction. Video games are popular because they allow players to create their own adventures and be heroes themselves. Without that interaction all those adventures are reduced to poor script, one-dimensional characters and abysmal dialogue. Presence of young and not particularly inspired actors like Prinze and Lillard doesn’t help either, especially when they get compared with their over-qualified colleagues like Prochnow, Burrows, David Warner, David Suchet and Tcheky Karyo. All fine acting talents try very hard, but they still can’t put some life into their characters. On the other hand, special effects are passable and film’s relatively short running time makes WING COMMANDER slightly better than its atrocious reputation. That, however, isn’t enough to rescue WING COMMANDER from sinking into well-deserved oblivion.

RATING: 3/10 (+)

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