1999; Rated PG-13; 99 Minutes
Freddie Prinze Jr.: Chris Blair
Saffon Burrows: Angel Devereaux
Matthew Lilard: Manic Marshall
David Suchet: Sansky
Jurgen Prochnow: Commander Gerald
Produced by Joseph Newton Cohen, Jean Martial Lefranc,
Todd Moyer, Tom Reeve, Tomain Scroeder and Neil Young; Directed
by Chris Roberts; Screenwritten by Chris Roberts
and Kevin Droney
by DAVID KEYES
Commander" is about humans at war with a reptilian-like
alien species: a war that gets to the point where Earth's
fate lies in the hands of an assemblage of space marines.
The premise, generically, takes place in the distant future,
where this race of alien "Kilrathi" look like frogs with
goatees, and the human beings are so sluggish and stupid
that, if Earth's fate was actually left in their hands,
you'd rather trust the aliens.
production defines cinematic exhaustion; every shot, every
ugly, loathsome detail lacks even passable badness, not
to mention competence. The main reason lies in the fact
that the director, Chris Roberts, creates an atmosphere
much like the video game of the same name; space ships float
by on the theater screen, as if the projector is sending
the screen images onto the canvas using an actual video
game screen as the source. The special effects are grainy,
the characters have no reccolectable names, and everything
is played out like a series of battle sequences that can
be seen in any order. The only difference is that, when
you're playing the game, you can hit the escape key any
time to get out of it. In this case, we have to walk out
of the theater and watch 6 bucks go down the drain.
with half of a brain knows that movies based on video games
need more than arcade-style visual effects to succeed, but
the filmmakers here seem to think that anyone with half
a brain is the enemy; the only possible explanation for
making it is the dogged hope that it could find a dimwitted
audience and make bundles of money for the studio. Thankfully,
it didn't earn that money; the film faded after a weak start
at the box office, and became forgotten in the minds of
moviegoers quicker than a snap of the fingers. Take this
as verification that Hollywood is playing with our minds.
If they think we're as stupid as the common video game personality,
then they are sorely mistaken.
Commander" stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Saffron Burrows and
Matthew Lilard, as pilots aboard a space ship battling a
hideous alien race that wants to destroy earth. There, they
are in command of Commander Gerald, played by "Das Boot"s
Jurgen Prochnow, a man who looks like he's caught knee-deep
in this mess and cannot find a way out. All together, they
try to subvert some attention from the action sequences
onto themselves. In order to do this, however, the script
creates some of the most ludicrous character relationships
that I have ever seen. I should not try and describe one
of them here, but let's just say that, once Freddie Prinze
is revealed to be human and alien, he is tainted by superficial
acts of racism and prejudice, thus causing the commander
to consider him a space hero to raise his spirits.
isn't bad as the suave Angel Devereaux, but Lilard is a
stereotype of a human proud of his masculinity, flaunting
it to the audience like he is some sort of cheap streetwalker.
His personality is like one of those bright-colored cars:
fast on the road but overfilled with fuel. Except that the
fuel is more like testosterone instead of gasoline.
be warned, the others are just as bad. Most of the minor
space marine roles have a tendency to stand on the sidelines
and yell all sorts of demented one liners, like "Brace yourself,"
or "Head to port!" Listening to them reminded me of "Armageddon,"
where a load of idiodic space cadets landed on an asteroid
and shouted minute after minute of hideous, commercial dialogue.
is the future, yes, but it doesn't look that way; ships,
uniforms, and aliens resemble the ones of "Star Trek" and
old science fiction movies, as if time has elapsed but culture
and technology have remained stationary. The aliens appear
on screen for a few moments; we aren't allowed to even see
them well enough to study their physical appearances, much
less their personalities. How are we ever to feel about
the opposing side if we don't get to meet them and get to
know them well? How will we determine what exactly these
aliens are after, and why?
moment of "Wing Commander" is not simply bad, but detached,
ugly, dull, lifeless, and filled with character that you
wish the aliens would kill off, just so they'd shut up.
If the film is not the single worst space blockbuster since
the overrated "Armageddon," it comes awfully close.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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