Thursday, January 26, 2012

My review of Wing Commander

Most of you are probably not familiar with this one, coming out in 1999 and not having been too popular, well its probably not that well known here in 2012. It got pretty unfavorable reviews, so I thought I’d take another crack at it.

First off, I have to admit, I like this movie. Its one of my favorite sci-fi pictures of all time, right up there with The Last Starfighter. That doesn’t mean it’s as good, though.

The movie has some of the most realistic(haha!) depictions of space battles ever. By “realistic” I mean reasonable, the weapons they describe and the ships they use make a significant amount of sense. They also have fun conventions like ships not being stuck with specific ups or downs.

The battles are just awesome, not just visually pleasing but tactically diverse and very interesting. They do a few things that might make people scoff, but as a writer of sci-fi battles myself, I think if you deconstruct what goes on according to the established limitations of the technology it makes perfect sense. Wing Commander is flawed, complex, realistic science fiction.

But where it really starts to suffer is the acting. If you’ve seen it, you may notice that everyone inexplicably has thick, eastern-european accents. Apparently it was filmed in Luxembourg. Most of the minor characters are OK. Captain Taggart is easily my favorite character, and despite being French is pretty badass.

The main characters, however, are all pretty much insufferable pricks. They’re written to be arrogant fighter-jocks, the problem is they are all arrogant fighter-jocks with no redeeming qualities. Our hero, Christopher Blair, displays all the acting talent of a lump of coal. His line delivery is whiter than bread. He’s flat and bland, is what I’m saying.

His co-star, Todd Marshall(these are the character names, I don’t care who played them) isn’t any better. He’s an insufferable prick, and the actor does a great job of portraying that. The concern is that he’s a little too good, you get the feeling he’s so excellent at playing an insufferable prick because in real-life he’s an insufferable prick.

The female leads aren’t any better. With them, its more the writing than the actual acting, there’s only so much you can do with what you’re given. I’m not really sure how the writers thought we were supposed to like them, but towards the end when one of them nearly dies in what is meant to be a dramatic, touching instance of self-sacrifice, its really hard to care.

On the whole, the story of Wing Comander is actually really good. The characters range from bland to awesome with a lot of insufferable in between, but the over-all story really shines. If you like character-driven movies, you’re going to hate it; if you like explosion-driven movies, well I’d say Wing Commander is right for you.

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