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Wing Commander

video review out of 4 Movie Review: Wing Commander

Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr., Saffron Burrows
Director: Chris Roberts
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: March 1999
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, War

Review by MrBrown
0 stars out of 4

Last week, the sad announcement was made that the hilarious, bad-movie-skewering cult TV hit _Mystery_Science_Theater_3000_ was ending its run after its forthcoming tenth season. That announcement is even sadder by the release of _Wing_Commander_, the latest entry in the dubious "based on a video game" film genre--my, what a field day Mike Nelson and his robot pals would have had with this prime piece of sci-fi schlock.

Based on the popular computer game of the same name--and directed by no less than the game's creator, Chris Roberts--_Wing_Commander_ takes place during a war between humans and the evil Kilrathi alien race in the year 2564. But that's actually more plot details than anyone really needs. Essentially, the film is about a bunch of guys in spaceships trying to shoot down and/or blow up enemy ships. But someone forgot to tell Roberts that.

I doubt I have read a more pretentious statement than one Roberts gives in the press notes: "_Wing_Commander_ is a hard-core war movie set in space. In some ways, it has more in common with _Midway_ and _The_Battle_of_Britain_ than with a science-fiction film.... I wanted to make a film about people under the incredible tension of battle." It's more about actors under the incredible tension of poor writing, direction, and all other facets of filmmaking. Stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Matthew Lillard, and Saffron Burrows (the latter being the "wing commander" of the title) are all atrocious, but the fact that they've all done acceptable work in other films (yes, even Prinze) puts them at less blame than Roberts.

The story that he and scripter Kevin Droney have come up with is a messy mish-mash of elements of _Star_Wars_ (Prinze's metaphysically-gifted character must save the day with The Force, more or less), _Star_Trek_ (the gibberish-speaking Kilrathi look like papier-mache mutations of the Klingon race), and bad soap opera, which manifests itself in the form of cornball "emotional" scenes and even more painful dialogue. Among other things, lines such as "My adult life I've taken crap because I'm part Pilgrim!" and "He's a good guy, Angel. There's no reason to hate him" left the preview audience overcome with laughter. (And, no, hearing the lines in context does _not_ help.)

Movies like _Wing_Commander_ make me continue to question the logic of the whole video-game-to-film practice. After all, isn't the idea of interactivity what makes a video game popular in the first place? Wouldn't anyone rather sit at home playing the game than pay eight bucks to watch some dreary feature-length commercial, which is essentially what these poor excuses for films are? Then again, in terms of _Wing_Commander_, I'd rather do just about anything than sit through it another time.

To think that we could have actually been spared the agony that is _Wing_Commander_: the film had been languishing on Fox's shelf until the inexplicable success of a certain movie called _She's_All_That_ brought some luster to Prinze and Lillard's names. Just another reason to thank the general moviegoing public for their exquisite taste.

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