Wing Commander (1999)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Space Adventure  |   Release Date - Mar 12, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Luxembourg , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

To paraphrase a line from Jurassic Park: In the long, sad history of bad ideas, this is one of the worst. The transformation of a video game into a motion picture is a trend that simultaneously betrays the studios' marketing savvy and reveals a colossal lack of understanding about what makes a good story. Movies cost staggering amounts of money to create, so it's perfectly reasonable for film producers to harbor a bias toward projects with proven track records such as successful novels, plays, and comic books. However, it might be a wise course of action to take a second look at source material that, unlike the aforementioned media, is not actually story-based. And video games, even at their most sophisticated, really aren't. Director Chris Roberts, the creator of the *Wing Commander video game series, doesn't help matters by casting teen idol pretty boys Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard in the lead action hero roles. (Interestingly enough, the games featured the talents of actors such as John Rhys-Davies, Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell.) While the oft-paired acting duo might be effective at making the teenage Tiger Beat readership swoon, they are rather callow youths that are of neither the chiseled Bruce Willis/Arnold Schwarzenegger school nor the intelligent Harrison Ford/Mel Gibson ilk, making them poor selections for rebellious space jocks. The internationally savvy casting of popular supporting character actors from various homelands might be a bright idea from a worldwide box-office standpoint, but poor dialogue, unclear character motivations, and a dizzying array of ethnic accents just serve to confuse the narrative. The special effects have clearly been done on a budget, never exceeding the quality of small screen fare such as Babylon 5 or Space: Above and Beyond, leaving a resulting picture that isn't even worth a rental.