Chris Roberts's WING COMMANDER is a cinematic black hole that's liable
to suck your brains out as you attempt to decipher its impenetrable
story. First-time director Roberts, who "directs" the movie based on
his video game, clearly seems to be working in the wrong medium and
doesn't have much of a clue as to how to stage a motion picture. Writer
Kevin Droney, who also adapted MORTAL COMBAT for the big screen, creates
a movie so confusing you need a manual to be able to follow it.
You can score the movie as you watch it. Give yourself 100 points every
time you figure anything out. And give yourself double if you care.
Don't feel bad if you find you can't make a single point as that will be
a common score.
Basically we have some young warriors (Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew
Lillard and Saffron Burrows) and some veterans (Jürgen Prochnow, Tchéky
Karyo and David Suchet) who are part of a space armada. Their motto is
"if you die, you never existed." As they prepare for battle, the troops
spend their time arguing over the relative merits of estrogen vs.
testosterone as being the most important ingredient for a fighter.
The "special" effects in the movie are only a small cut above the old
Buck Rogers's serials. The fighters look like three-inch pieces of old
metal with Bunsen burners for propellants.
You do have to give the actors credit for keeping a straight face
through it all, no matter how inane the dialog. (One of David Suchet's
lines, for example, is "Come on, this is sterile conjecture.")
My son, who is a fairly savvy and generally quiet moviegoer, whispered
to me about a dozen times during the movie to see if I could figure out
what was happening. Each time I answered him honestly, "I have no
As I was forced to endure this stupefyingly dull film, I began to
develop various theories about it. Perhaps, the speech was encrypted,
and our theater didn't have the right decoder module. I tried watching
the actors' mouths move since another theory of mine was that the movie
was originally in a foreign language, and the problem was a bad English
"Emotion gets in the way," the Wing Commander advises her troops. Well,
the movie doesn't have to worry about emotion. There isn't a single
character in it that creates one scintilla of interest or sympathy.
Don't see the movie; rent the video game instead. No video game
omaginable could be this terminally boring.
WING COMMANDER runs 1:40. It is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence,
profanity, sexuality and sexual innuendo and would be acceptable for
kids around 10 and up.
My son Jeffrey, almost 10, said he couldn't understand most of the movie
since it was confusing and didn't make any sense. He hated it until the
ending, which he thought was okay, so he raised his rating from 1/2 to *
1/2. His friend Nickolas, almost 10, said he liked the film because of
the action and gave the movie ****. He said he understood it because he
had played the video game.
Copyright © 1999 Steve Rhodes