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"WING COMMANDER"
(1999) (Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Mild Heavy Mild Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Mild None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Minor Minor Mild *Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Sci-fi: Many centuries into the future, a group of space pilots tries to prevent a hostile alien race from reaching and attacking Earth.
PLOT:
It's the year 2564, and humans have long since explored the universe, ever since a now near extinct group of people called the "Pilgrims" first ventured forth into the stars. Yet with that exploration comes contact with alien life forms. As such, a particularly nasty and hostile race known as the Kilrathi has decided to attack a Conderation ship, steal its intricate navigational computer, and set a course to invade and destroy Earth.

With no battle cruisers immediately in range to intercept the aliens, Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn (DAVID WARNER) orders recent Academy pilots Lt. Christopher "Maverick" Blair (FREDDIE PRINZE JR.) and his hotshot buddy, Todd "Maniac" Marshall (MATTHEW LILLARD), to deliver an encrypted message to a battle cruiser, the Tiger Claw, in hopes that its crew will be able to intervene.

Escorted by the enigmatic Commander James "Paladin" Taggart (TCHÉKY KARYO), the two pilots arrive on the Tiger Claw, run by Captain Sansky (DAVID SUCHET) and Commander Gerald (JÜRGEN PROCHNOW), the latter of whom doesn't like Chris because his mother was a Pilgrim.

Nonetheless, after Todd falls for fellow pilot Rosie Forbes (GINNY HOLDER) and Chris gets off on the wrong foot with Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux (SAFFRON BURROWS), who turns out to be the squadron's wing commander, the newcomers join the crew of the Tiger Claw as they try to stop the Kilrathi from using a jump through space to reach Earth.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of the computer game(s), teen heartthrob Freddie Prinze, Jr., or want to catch the 2nd trailer for the upcoming "Star Wars" film (which is playing with this film for at least the first weekend), they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For sexual references and sci-fi action/violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • FREDDIE PRINZE JR. plays a recently graduated pilot of the Academy who does what he can to help defeat the enemy.
  • MATTHEW LILLARD plays his gung-ho buddy whose occasional recklessness gets him and others into trouble. He also apparently beds Rosie.
  • SAFFRON BURROWS plays the tough but capable squadron commander.
  • GINNY HOLDER plays her friend who likes to show off just as much as Todd, and apparently ends up having sex with him.
  • TCHÉKY KARYO plays a man with a secret, but intricate knowledge of the enemy.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
    If you've ever gone over to someone's house, and then ended up having to watch them play a video or computer game for an hour and a half or so without being allowed to participate, then you'll know the bored, uninvolved feeling that will overcome you while watching "Wing Commander."

    Based on the popular computer game of the same name, this lackluster and tedious 20th Century Fox release -- which borrows elements from other widely recognized sci-fi and action films and then tries to reformat them into the shape of something resembling a WWII submarine flick -- might score big it's opening weekend (when it's paired with the 2nd trailer for the upcoming "Star Wars" film), but will certainly be a distant retinal blur long before George Lucas' little sci-fi film hits the theaters in two months.

    Beyond the obvious similarities to the "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" series, the film is also reminiscent of the militaristic, but far superior "Starship Troopers" (with young cadets fighting an alien life force intent on destroying humans), "Top Gun," and just about any WWII film dealing with naval, and in particular, submarine warfare.

    As such, this movie even includes a scene lifted straight from most any such film where the "hunted" sub tries to '"run silent, run deep" (by turning off all of its equipment and trying to hide), while the "hunter" ship (even going so far as to be named a "destroyer") drops the equivalent of depth charges trying to find its prey. While that sounds somewhat interesting in print, as executed on the screen it's about as exciting as watching someone play such a game from across the room.

    I'll admit to having never played the original game -- or the many "sequel" installments -- that this film's director, Chris Roberts, also created, but I can only presume that they're a lot more exciting than this boring piece of dreck. One has wonder when filmmakers, who adapt these video/computer games, will realize that such games' interactivity -- the very thing that makes them so popular and fun -- cannot be transferred to the big screen.

    Of course, it doesn't help that the characters here are about as real and dimensional as their processor-driven counterparts, and that the lackluster story -- courtesy of screenwriter Kevin Droney -- is filled with all sorts of nonsense and gobbledygook that will fly over viewers' heads as fast as such "exposition" does to players who only want to shoot up the bad guys on their screens.

    None of this should come as much of a surprise, though, since most of the prior adaptions of video and computer games -- such as "Super Mario Brothers," "Street Fighter," "Mortal Kombat," etc... -- have been less then generously received by critics and most moviegoers, although the "Kombat" films did make some money. The very first one, "Tron," inspired its video game and not vice-versa for those who remember that early '80's film/game.

    Like all of those films, the acting here is as weak as the film's ability to entertain, and often the performances are unintentionally funny. As such, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard (who also appeared together in "She's All That") are horribly miscast in their fly-boy roles.

    If Prinze -- the hot commodity of late -- is lucky, he's Teflon covered and appearing in this mess won't harm his burgeoning career. Meanwhile, the likes of David Warner ("Time After Time") and Jürgen Prochnow (who appeared in that "other" submarine flick, "Das Boot") get in some serious, but unfortunately "camp-less" overacting.

    Despite some decent, but not spectacular special effects -- courtesy of Digital Anvil and effects supervisor Chris Brown -- and the fact that the heroes have less than twenty-four hours to save the day, the film is anything but engaging, let alone interesting. Beyond the weak script and mediocre direction partially being to blame for that, a great deal of it also revolves around the enemy being so anonymous.

    Although we're supposed to root for the humans and the survival of Earth since -- well, since we're humans and we live on Earth -- any good or even decent movie has equally matched and identifiable opponents. That isn't the case here and the Kilrathi as a people/race/mutant life form are nothing more than bothersome pests that need a good "swatting" (of course some may say the same about the protagonists). To make matters worse, once we catch sight of the villains, they're laughably goofy looking, which certainly doesn't help in creating suspenseful scenes.

    Overall, the film and its use of elements from other, far superior pictures, is much like concocting a recipe consisting of filet mignon, egg nog, and peanut butter. While all of those items taste good on their own, putting them together doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the same result. A mess of a movie that's stale, unappetizing and hard to swallow, "Wing Commander" is a vehicle that should never have gotten off the ground. We give the film a 1 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated film. Much like the "Star Wars" or similarly related shoot 'em up sci-fi films, there are plenty of military battles resulting in thousands of deaths, but we see very few of them up close. Most of them are bloodless, although a few people are a bit bloody late in the film.

    It's strongly suggested that two characters have sex (as we see them -- clothed -- in a bunk together and they make some related comments). Other sexually related comments or innuendo also occurs. Profanity consists of 10 "s" and a small assortment of other words, and some brief drinking and smoking is also present.

    Since older preteen and teenage boys are the film's likely audience, you may want to take a closer look at the content that's been listed should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness for them or anyone else in your home.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Todd brings a bottle of Scotch into the pilot's lounge to appease the other pilots, and he, Chris, Angel and Rosie drink some.
  • Rosie walks into Angel's quarters carrying a bottle of Scotch and they have some.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Blood runs from the human commander's head after he's been injured in a battle, and Taggart has a tiny bit of blood on his head.
  • Todd has some blood running from his mouth after he's injured.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The Kilrathi have both for wanting to destroy Earth (but they're never "personalized" which lessens that attitude).
  • Commander Gerald is a bigot toward anyone with Pilgrim blood in their veins, which includes Chris.
  • Due to Todd's hotdogging, Rosie's ship is damaged and makes a crash-landing back on the cruiser.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may be tense to some viewers, but most of it's played in such a cartoonish fashion that few will probably feel that way.
  • Chris, Todd and Taggart brace themselves as they try to "jump" over/through a distortion in time and space. Later, Taggart takes another crew through a similar space aberration (that's supposed to be tense and may be to very young viewers).
  • Todd tries to escort Rosie and her damaged ship back to the cruiser.
  • A hole forms in the ship and Chris is nearly sucked from it as he barely holds on as a rescue effort tries to reach him.
  • Angel tries to catch and destroy a missile before it hits their cruiser.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Spacecraft fired machines guns and torpedoes/Hand-held machine guns: Used by both humans and Kilrathi to destroy the other's ships and kill their enemies.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Holy sh*t," "Tight ass," "Balls" (testicles), "Piss me off," "Bastards," "Geez" and "Shut up."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of action-oriented suspense music occurs during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 10 "s" words, 6 hells, 3 asses, 1 S.O.B., 1 crap, 1 damn, and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see some pin-up posters of women (and a man, both showing some skin but nothing explicit) on the walls of the pilot's lounge.
  • After Todd mentions "Balls...you should see 'em" (meaning testicles), Rosie boastfully says, "Mine are bigger." Todd then says he was told that "size doesn't matter" and Rosie responds, "She lied."
  • When Chris asks Todd, "What about desire?" his buddy says, "See Lt. Forbes? You know I have desire."
  • Angel asks Rosie, "What were you thinking?" and gets the reply, "I wasn't. At least not with my head."
  • Rosie makes a comment about something being "better than sex." When Angel disagrees, Rosie adds, "Better than sex by myself."
  • We see Rosie and Todd in a bunk (clothed) and she says "Fire it up one more time" (meaning more sex). He then says that he needs to refuel and she asks about her needs and climbs on top, straddling him on that bunk, but we don't see anything else happen between them (although it's obviously suggested that they had sex).
  • Referring to landing on the cruiser, but taken as a double entendre, Todd says, "There it is, just ease it in, girl" and Rosie responds, "I love it when you talk dirty."
  • SMOKING
  • Some pilots smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Chris mentions that his parents were killed when he was a boy. Angel later mentions that her parents died in the same war.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether this is what the future will be like (and if wars will still be commonplace then).
  • Space exploration.
  • VIOLENCE
  • While many people/creatures are killed and spaceships destroyed, most of that's seen from a distance, thus lessening the graphic nature of what's occurring (although the quantity involved warrants the "extreme" rating).
  • Kilrathi forces open fire on an Earth cruiser that they eventually destroy, resulting in what's reported to be 10,000 fatalities. In the midst of that, Kilrathi soldiers open fire on humans with machine guns, presumably killing many that way as well.
  • Another pilot almost gets into a fight with Chris and the two have to be separated.
  • Chris and Angel fire on bogeys indicated on their target displays and blow up those ships.
  • More ships are blown up in a later battle and the Kilrathi fire torpedoes that strike the Tiger Claw, damaging it.
  • Even more ships are blown up in another battle and we see that the human commander has been wounded (blood runs from his head).
  • A character dies after their ship crashes while landing, and Angel aims a gun in Todd's face and threatens to shoot him for causing that to happen.
  • More Kilrathi ships are blown up, and humans come on board another ship and shoot the creatures dead with machine guns.
  • Even more Kilrathi ships are blown up.



  • Reviewed March 12, 1999 / Posted March 12, 1999

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