I have no familiarity with the Wing Commander series of games, I have never played the games and I have no knowledge of the deep lore of the franchise. I […]
I have no familiarity with the Wing Commander series of games, I have never played the games and I have no knowledge of the deep lore of the franchise. I was not sure going into the movie whether this would be a blessing to not have any point of comparison or a hindrance by not knowing the style of the games. I got my answer after ninety-five minutes – it did not matter. Wing Commander the movie is not good and unfortunately it is the worst kind of not good – it’s not good in the most uninteresting way possible.
Wing Commander follows Christopher Blair (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and his best friend Todd Marshall (Matthew Lillard) along with their captain James Taggert (Tchéky Karyo) as they deliver a message about a looming threat from the Kilrathi race to the Tiger Claw fleet and help them save Earth before it is attacked. Along the way, Blair immediately gets on the wrong side of his Wing Commander Deveraux and because she is a female in a movie who hates the main character a minute after meeting you know they’ll bang by the end (SPOILERS: they kiss at the end, close enough).
There are several issues with the film which we will get into but the plot feels like it is a sausage made from the bad bits of sci-fi films from that era, all squished together and put on the screen. Yeah, that’s what Wing Commander is. A sausage. I have a degree in Journalism.
Nothing feels original, especially for 1999 when sci-fi films where there was no shortage of generic sci-fi films trying to grab some of those Star Wars and Star Trek dollars. Wing Commander manages to feel sub-generic – a movie so damn generic it borderlines on parody.
Pacing is an issue – the first half is pretty slow and the second half does not give its plot time to breathe in between scenes. Then it is pretty much wrapped up in a couple of minutes. Freddie Prinze, Jr. saves the day, gets reunited with his buddies and then the film ends. There is no sense of triumph. It feels like the film is saying “oh we won I guess here’s the credits”.
There are some pretty good actors in Wing Commander. None of them play the main characters though which is a shame. Prinze, Jr. was never going to win many acting awards but his performance here makes his character seem like someone who has one emotion – a perpetual whine – and it does not matter if he is happy or sad he will stick to that one emotion. Matthew Lillard’s character is obnoxious and at one point his idiocy gets one of the likable characters killed, and once you remember he would go on to be Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo movies his weird facial expressions start to make sense.
The film would have benefitted from a stronger cast and maybe a higher budget because boy does this film look cheap for a late-90s sci-fi film. The movie looks like it wouldn’t look out of place alongside the FMV games on the 90s, which I guess makes it comparable to the games in that regard.
Ultimately though, Wing Commander is not interesting enough to be angry at and it is not interesting enough to waste too much more energy on. When I die I will look back at the 95 minutes I spent watching it and the half hour I spent writing this review as wasted time. Or I won’t because I’ll be dead and by that point it is far too late to repent for my sins.