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Wing Commander (PG-13)
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This came out in 1999, but I first saw it on TV probably a couple years later. It's based on a series of computer games that I've never played, though I was somewhat familiar with an animated series based on the games, Wing Commander Academy, which aired a few years before this movie. I watched the movie again on DVD in 2013, and I think I liked it a bit better than I did the first time I saw it. It didn't do very well critically or financially, and I certainly don't think it's a great movie, but it's okay. There's something cool about movies/shows/games/whatever that have massive carrier ships that house squadrons of fighters. It's like crossing a submarine movie with a fighter pilot movie. Or something. This is far from the best example the concept (hell, the cartoon was way better), but it has its good points.

So anyway... it begins with voiceover historical news clips or whatever. The first is a speech by JFK, I guess, but everything after that is future news. It's all about key points in the history of humanity going out into space, and it ends with the declaration of war with an alien race called the Kilrathi. The movie proper is set in 2654. A Kilrathi fleet destroys a Terran outpost, I guess, and acquires some techno-thingie that I guess will allow them to jump to Earth space within like 40 hours. Some other ship, commanded by Admiral Tolwyn (David Warner), finds out about this and orders the human fleet to Earth. But the fleet is scattered, and will take 42 hours to get there. So he contacts an apparently civilian ship called the Diligent, under the command of Captain Taggart, which is transporting supplies and two new pilots to another ship called the Tiger Claw. Tolwyn wants them to deliver a message to Captain Sansky (David Suchet) of the Tiger Claw, ordering him to, um... go to... some place... and uh... stall the Kilrathi. Or whatever.

Anyway, the two pilots are Christopher Blair (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Todd "Maniac" Marshall (Matthew Lillard). (I find this a bit amusing because a few years later, Prinze and Lillard would both be in Scooby-Doo.) Anyway, Blair is half "Pilgrim," his mother was from a race of... the first human space explorers, I guess, who had fought a war against humanity. So Blair faces prejudice, especially from the Tiger Claw's XO, Commander Gerald. Meanwhile, Maniac is basically just a goofy hotshot. He starts a relationship with another hotshot pilot on the Tiger Claw, Rosie Forbes. And Taggart also has to help out on the Tiger Claw's mission, because he knows the area of space they're going to. Or whatever. (Without him, they couldn't have reached the place they had to go in less than four days. And his experience turns out to be helpful in any number of other ways.) And um, all the fighter pilots are commanded by Lieutenant Commander Jeannette "Angel" Deveraux (Saffron Burrows).

And... I dunno what to say. There's plenty of space battles and stuff. There's some reasonably okay personal drama, and a bit of humor (mainly from Maniac). I'm not sure how much sense the movie actually made as a whole; it was more like a bunch of cool scenes cobbled together, I thought. All the scenes made sense as a part of the whole, but as far as exactly how one led to the next, meh. It just felt a bit disjointed, to me. Though not so much that I'd be surprised if other people disagreed. There may have been some things in the movie I really don't think were right, particularly something that happens in the final scene between Blair and Angel. But whatever. The important thing is what came shortly before that... when the Kilrathi show up in Earth space. That was kind of awesome. (Incidentally, though, I didn't much care for any scenes of the actual Kilrathi, as opposed to just their ships. The actual aliens just didn't look very realistic, and not quite how I expected them to look based on the series.) But anyway... there's definitely some interesting stuff going on in the movie, even if some of it is better suited to a series than a movie. Some of it probably worked better in the movie than it would in a series. And um, yeah... I think if you like war movies in general, you should be able to set aside the fact that this is set in space, and just look at it almost as if it was World War II, or something like that. Hey, why not? (On the other hand, that might just highlight how clichéd the plot is.)


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