Wing Commander, set in the year 2654, is the story of the interstellar
war between the human ConFeds and the Kilrathi, a race of nasty, green,
froggy guys who want nothing more than to make history of the human race.
As in Starship Troopers, no explanation
is given for the enemy's enduring animosity toward us humanoids; they just
don't like us is all. They've attacked one of the ConFed ships and captured
its NAVCOM computer, which will enable them to find the deep-space coordinates
of a series of interstellar jump points that will lead them to Earth, where
they plan to do a little target practice.
Racing to cut them off at the pass is our team of good guys, featuring
Christopher "Maverick" Blair (Freddie Prinze Jr.), his best friend,
Todd "Maniac" Marshall (Matthew Lillard), and Jeanette "Angel"
Devereaux (Saffron Burrows), their wing commander. Hence the name. Along
the way, they get in all sorts of deep-space pickles, but they always manage
reasonably well, since they're the good guys. Their "fighters,"
which bear an uncanny resemblance to 20th-century military fighter aircraft,
are equipped with extremely high-tech weapons similar to those found in
Among the paper-thin subplots is a growing relationship between Blair
and Angel, a more animalistic bond between two others, and Blair's attempt
to understand his heritage as a descendent of the "Pilgrims" (the
first generation of spacefarers). It seems that there is a history of animosity
between Pilgrims and non-Pilgrims, because the former are said to possess
an instinctual ability to navigate and therefore grew to consider themselves
above all others. Blair doesn't feel that way, but he nevertheless enjoys
the hatred of most of his colleagues.
The acting is passable; Prinze and Lillard have proven themselves before
and Saffron is certainly more than just a pretty face, but emotionally the
film is pretentious and forced. The script attempts to borrow one element
from Rémarque's All Quiet On The Western Front: It is an unspoken
rule among the pilots that anyone killed in action is said to have never
existed. This is supposed to ease the emotional impact of combat, but the
idea of any of these people having any real emotion is laughable, unlike
in All Quiet.
A rather strange choice on the part of 20th Century Fox was to attach the controversial Star Wars: Episode I trailer to this film. It seems to underscore Wing's deficiencies; the trailer clearly outstrips the 100 minutes that follow, but perhaps they thought it would boost sales if people knew they would get to see those magical 5 minutes. Rumor has it that in some cities people have actually paid the admission, watched the trailer, and then tried to get their money back. But I don't recommend trying that at our own Garrett 8 Cinemas; Faith just isn't in the mood. **½
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