In hindsight, the Wing Commander movie was a masterpiece.

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Providing information, not cutting down the movie.

This is how it should be. I feel like it's only in recent years that this kind of thing has become *negative*--back in the mid-90s and before, "complaining" about things like this was a fun game in and of itself... now it's supposed to be damning criticism of the source material too. No like it.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I never liked the Samurai concept. One of the big problems with the movie for me is that it grabs too many different things at once. It does them all well, but they don't really come together: the Tiger's Claw is a submarine *and* a carrier, the dogfights are modern jets *and* prop planes... we're rushing to Earth as quickly as possible *and* we have a scene talking about Forever War-style time dilation? Samurai (pizza?) cats would just make that even more evident.

I would have liked to see the movie almost without any Kilrathi, from the start. Maybe have them as fuzzy green VDU images (the movie needed taunts!) and then treat actually seeing them as a big reveal at the end when you get to the boarding scene--but don't drop back to the captain and the admiral plotting every once in a while as planned.

(I wonder if someone didn't have this in mind at some point, with the "UGLY" scene where Blair wants to know what the Kilrathi look like. Which of course doesn't make sense in a war where they've been fighting the Kilrathi for twenty years anyway...)

There's two ways to approach this. On one side, we can think about how the concept could have worked? and on the other we can look at what approach would we rather have had them take.

I think for an introductory movie for the franchise, The script both has issues, and was overly ambitious. Take a look at the link I provided in my last post. There's so much of the script that just isn't in the theatrical cut. It's amazing that it works on any level at all.

So where the kilrathi are concerned I totally agree about how they should be revealed. And essentially that's what ended up happpening in the theatrical cut. Other than a quick flash in the pegasus scene - litterally about a second or two - we don't see them till the concom raid. Taunts would have been nice.

But this presents a problem. If that's the route they wanted to take, they never ever should have planned to do the traitor subplot. While I really like that element and really want Chris Roberts to re-edit and release a special editiion with some kind of attempt a fixing what is possible to fix, that should have been left for the sequel to start with.

This would necessitate an actual proper rewrite or even a new script all together though. So much of the existing dialogue just doesn't make sense with the scenes jumbled around and the context removed. Also, consider how decent the CG effects are in the movie especially considering how well much of it holds up 12 years later. Now think about how much money went into blowing up the kilrathi puppets and grenading the kilrathi bridge, and shooting about a quarter of the script with all the actors and consider that that money could have been put into the kilrathi puppet design or in making more establishing shots of the CG space fleets.

As far as the Samurai look, I prefer the idea that they have the Samurai sense of duty and honor more than that they should actually look like Space-Samurai.

I still maintain the best way to do the Kilrathi in a WC movie (or mostly any WC material) would be the same way they did Germans in Stanley Kubrick's Paths Of Glory. You never see them, you never hear them (though taunts would be great!) and the most interaction you get with them is a muzzle flash from far off.
That would have been good, but like I mentioned about the way for that to work properly would have been to rewrite the actual script. At the very least, they should have decided to drop the merlin character earlier so that they could have wrote the scenes to make sense without his presence *BEFORE* they shot the movie.

...Lillard got hired because of typecasting because - surprise! - hes the foil to Freddy Prinze Jr in two other films previous to WCM.

While this sounds good it's just not true. Prinze and Lillard met on the set of Wing Commander IIRC and became good friends because they hit it off so well. Movies like She's all that were filmed after WC but just happened to be a hit and happened to come out before Wing Commander. If anything it was part of what helped FOX to finally decide to put WC in theaters when they did ahead of The Phantom Menace.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
While this sounds good it's just not true. Prinze and Lillard met on the set of Wing Commander IIRC and became good friends because they hit it off so well.

Perhaps I was being too accurate in my statement - Lillard's earier roles like Hackers and Scream certainly denoted a certain "Maniac" quality to him. Thats what landed him the role; as to Prinze, well... I can't think of a nice way to put it, so I won't say it at all.

That said, its either a supposition on your part or amazing cosmic alignments that they just so happened to work on WC first, do two films that were released ahead of it and THEN had the WC movie come out?
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
That said, its either a supposition on your part or amazing cosmic alignments that they just so happened to work on WC first, do two films that were released ahead of it and THEN had the WC movie come out?

I really don't know what the second movie you are thinking of is. They were both in separate horror franchises (scream and I know what you did last summer) but didn't cross over. She's all That was filmed August and through september '98 and came out January '99. The WC movie filmed February to April of 1998 and came out March 12, 1999.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
... or he's confusing "Sparkler" (with Prinze and Casey from Prophecy) and "Summer Catch" (Prinze/Lillard, but later)... which I have done before.

Also, who cast Sparkler, anyway? Someone who really hate acting?
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Here's a couple of interesting quotes to think about:

Sci-fi Teen Magazine - March 99 issue said:
For the tall, feline Kilrathi race, Roberts used the more traditional methods of animatronics. "I originally wanted to do digital aliens, but that came down to a time and budget issue. We were kind of constrained with the number of effects we were doing in space. Character animation is the most time-consuming and expensive kind of digital work, so I went with an old fashioned approach on the aliens. Obviously, if I do the sequel, I'd love to have more money and time so I could do digital aliens as well as digital spaceships."

The Admiral, the Captain and the Office Kilrathi animatronic heads had to be distinctly different from the others, as they would not be wearing helmets like the others. They also had high collars. Another thing we added was retractable claws to the gloves for the fighting sequences. Other things that hadn’t been discussed in the U.K were the fact that they wanted to shoot the Kilrathi in the head, the chest and even wanted to blow some of them up. So there was a lot of stuff we had to work out while we were there. In the climax of the film, the Kilrathi ship’s bridge is blown up. The Floor FX team sent a fireball from the bridge down a corridor on the ship. In this scene you see several Kilrathi, who are running towards the bridge, getting blown apart. So, the stunt personnel were wearing the costumes, which presented another problem, as the glass fiber bodysuits would not have been soft to land on! So, we had to chop bits of the suits away so that they could wear them and land safely. Some of the Kilrathi stunts had to be rigged with bullet hits. As with a lot of things in the film industry they didn’t shoot the Kilrathi looking brilliant at the beginning and being blown apart at the end of the shoot - it was done when they could schedule it in on set. Inevitably, the firs suits we made were virtually destroyed by the third day, and we had another four weeks to go, so we were frantically repairing them. There weren’t really any other surprises, but it was a challenge working things out in Luxembourg.


SF&F: Did you have to build any special suits or panels specifically for pyrotechnicians to utilise, which would produce the desired effect - say - in a shoot-out?


Nik: We took the moulds with us to Luxembourg, so we could produce pieces that we could cut-pre-arranged holes in, which would then be rigged with pyros, blood bags and bits of guts. Green blood, of course! Finally, they would be covered with a thin layer of plaster and painted to blend in with the rest of the armor.


SF&F: Were there many re-takes with the pyrotechnics?


Nik: No, it went pretty well. There would have been no chance for a re-take with the fireball sequence, as it destroyed the set! (Laughs)


SF&F: Oh!


Nik: It was intentional. (Laughs)

Here's one of the kilrathi from the film. The only reason I'm pointing this one out is that it's fairly similar to that concept image... Not sure that the visor is original though...

Actually being able to see the costumes clearly there were also several variations of armor. The admiral was quite different than the pilots which were different than the ones boarding Pegasus etc... but we never really get to seem them... not clearly in the movie.


kilrathi_animatronic2.jpg
 
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Dyret

Super Carrot!
If you think no-one has ever complained about the bad science of Star Wars/Star Trek, etc., you've clearly never looked around on these newfangled interwebs much. :) There are entire websites dedicated to complaining about bad science in science fiction.

Heh, yeah, it's probably a matter of not hanging out in the right places enough. Still, people who thinks WW2 dogfighting ruined A New Hope forever seem to be less numerous, loud, and obnoxious than the people latching on to whatever 'mistakes' WC did.

And actually, Babylon 5 made a halfway decent attempt to not completely screw up the science in their science fiction. At least there, their ships rotate to create gravity in the crew compartments, and the starfighters follow something remotely like the laws of physics.

Definitely, still, the more advanced species' technology and many of the plot devices explicitly relied on space magic to work. This is probably the best way to write a sci-fi setting though... write a believable, hard setting then apply superscience as the plot demands.

But I wasn't criticizing the movie for having bad physics. I enjoy sci fi enough that I over look those. I was specifically trying to answer some physics questions other posters had raised. Providing information, not cutting down the movie.

I know, It wasn't intended as an attack against you. :)
 

Wojo

Rear Admiral
There is some detail in that Kilrathi suit that just doesn't show up in the movie. I guess because they were filmed in smoky green environments. Boo.

I take Lillards line "these Rapiers are beat to hell" to mean that a movie Rapier right off the production line might actually not look like a pile of junk. Imagine it looking shiny and without metal patches welded all over the place. Some of the concept art looks a little closer to this.

Ha, the whole reason I write anything on these forums is because I enjoy the conversation - I'm not interested in being proven right or wrong, I just like hearing what other people think about things! It is a shame that it turns into mud-flinging on the internets sometimes these days. But hell, I'm used to criticism, water off a duck's back eh.

I thought Lillard made an awesome Shaggy.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
There is some detail in that Kilrathi suit that just doesn't show up in the movie. I guess because they were filmed in smoky green environments. Boo.

A lot of that was added later to better obscure the Kilrathi!
 

Kyle Maverick

Rear Admiral
I take Lillards line "these Rapiers are beat to hell" to mean that a movie Rapier right off the production line might actually not look like a pile of junk. Imagine it looking shiny and without metal patches welded all over the place. Some of the concept art looks a little closer to this.

This was a fact I liked about the film, the "lived in" look. The fighters looked like they'd been in combat, the uniforms looked like they'd been issued a while ago, the hanger deck looked like they'd had fuel spills and god know what else all over the deck.

All too often you see in sci-fi ships that have been in space for years, even decades, been shot to hell, through meteor storms, nebulas, and just about everything else that space can throw at them, and yet they still look factory new. (ST Voyager please stand up!)
 

Captain Obvious

Rear Admiral
I liked the beaten up look of everything too. It was a carrier on the frontlines with little to no support. Everything was half-fixed and jury rigged as you'd expect. I didn't really like the design of the fighters themselves which seems to be a pretty common complaint but they didn't bother me as much as some folks. I would've preferred if they were Scimitars or Raptors or something instead of calling them Rapiers so we wouldn't have had to say they were an older fighter of the same name but I got over it.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
IIRC the earliest script actually calls them Sabres. For whatever reason, Chris Roberts now has it in his head that "Rapier" is an important Wing Commander 'identity'.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
IIRC the earliest script actually calls them Sabres. For whatever reason, Chris Roberts now has it in his head that "Rapier" is an important Wing Commander 'identity'.

Yeah, there's quite a few different WC fighters that show up in the earlier drafts. Now that I think about it, the ship selections in the first draft or two mirrors fairly well that of Academy TV...

There is some detail in that Kilrathi suit that just doesn't show up in the movie. I guess because they were filmed in smoky green environments. Boo..
While I think everyone was not happy with how they turned out, I kind of feel that it was a mistake to cut them down to the bare minimum. It's as if by cutting all the stuff out they just opened things up to the miriads of complaints that have been leveled against the movie -some deserved, most undeserved.



I take Lillards line "these Rapiers are beat to hell" to mean that a movie Rapier right off the production line might actually not look like a pile of junk. Imagine it looking shiny and without metal patches welded all over the place. Some of the concept art looks a little closer to this.

This line wasn't even shot and doesn't show up in the script. It was added after filming in post production to cover up that they moved the scene where blair takes the disk to Sansky and Gerald to before the flight deck scene instead of after. So instead of maniac saying (looking for Gerald) " I don't see the X.O. anywhere... but you know what I do see" we have an ADR line about the rapiers being beat up and that they don't see any of the hornets they flew at the academy.
 

WCX

Rear Admiral
For give me for being late to the discussion. I was out, flying around, with my head in the asteroids.

So, yeah. When I first saw the Wing Commander movie, I had mixed feelings. Even to this day I still have a love-hate relationship with the movie. And while I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, it is certainly in a league two or three removed your standard Hollywood drivel.

The look of the ships and fighters bugged me a bit, but I guess that can be chocked up to the fact that there were different models/spaceframes (except the look of the Broadswords. They left no room to retcon those.)

While I’m quite impressed by how most things in the movie mesh with the established canon (some of them apparently by accident), the Pilgrim thing has always bugged me a bit, mostly since they were such a sudden addition. And while I realize that they were most likely placed to be a early stand-in for the Mandarins and the Border Worlders, after some thought and analysis, I realized that the Pilgrims aren’t some sort of Jedi-esque space magi (though the film novelizations tend to portray them this way), but rather the Newtypes from Mobile Suit Gundam. In fact the parallels are rather numerous, to the point where I wonder if Chris Roberts or an assistant writer wasn’t directly influenced by Gundam.

Every time I read about the Pilgram Alliance, I can’t help but picture the Principality of Zeon (only without the armies of mecha). One of the most famous speeches in MS Gundam sounds like it belongs in a Wing Commander prequel.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L03K2njcCrM

Even Arnold Blair’s back-story and the last year or two of the Pilgrim War sort of reminds me of GUNDAM 08th Squad.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5ncHRoVzXY

The biggest problem I had with the Pilgrims was the Pilgrim War itself, and how close it was to the start of the Kilrathi War, which clashes a bit with the established timeline: Namely the movie material stating that Tolwyn serve with distinction during the second half of the Pilgrim War, yet Action Stations has him graduating from the academy VERY shortly before the start of the Kilrathi War. Then there’s the matter of the Confed in the movie material emerging from the Pilgrim War as a growing military power, and the novel material showing Confed stagnating before the War with the Kilrathi. Even if these two different views can be held at the same time, it creates an military-industrial whiplash, sort of like if the US went from its post-WW2 status to pre-war status in the span of a year. That’s a way to fall. :confused:

I know that these can and have been explained or retconed , but it just felt to jarring to me.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
...The biggest problem I had with the Pilgrims was the Pilgrim War itself, and how close it was to the start of the Kilrathi War, which clashes a bit with the established timeline: Namely the movie material stating that Tolwyn serve with distinction during the second half of the Pilgrim War, yet Action Stations has him graduating from the academy VERY shortly before the start of the Kilrathi War.

The end of the pilgrim conflict and the start of the kilrathi war overlap.

While I’m quite impressed by how most things in the movie mesh with the established canon (some of them apparently by accident), the Pilgrim thing has always bugged me a bit, mostly since they were such a sudden addition. And while I realize that they were most likely placed to be a early stand-in for the Mandarins and the Border Worlders, after some thought and analysis, I realized that the Pilgrims aren’t some sort of Jedi-esque space magi (though the film novelizations tend to portray them this way), but rather the Newtypes from Mobile Suit Gundam. In fact the parallels are rather numerous, to the point where I wonder if Chris Roberts or an assistant writer wasn’t directly influenced by Gundam...

There's a bunch of stuff in the script that kind of explains this. It's not super elaborate in the shooting script and I'm kind of glad it didn't make it into the movie. There was some kind of confed order where people could be punished for talking about pilgrims. They wiped them out and were essentially trying to get people to forget about them. It kind of makes sense that people don't mention Pilgrims much by the time WC2 rolls around in this context. Anyway, here it is from the third draft (the draft before the shooting script):

Movie script- Third draft said:
BLAIR

Merlin.


MERLIN's hologram appears on the counter across the room.


MERLIN

Lieutenant.


BLAIR

The Pilgrims. What can you tell me about them?


MERLIN

Very little, I'm afraid. Confederation executive order 37495 decreed that "all history and references to the Pilgrim movement be eradicated


BLAIR

-from all databanks, computer systems, and hard copy texts. Said order also decreed that the transference of material pertaining to said sect and or movement, either oral or written, be strictly prohibited under penalty of death." I know the order. Do you have anything?


MERLIN

Just that in 2572, for reasons unknown to me, a sect of Pilgrims attempted to break off from Earth and the Confederation. The result was a forty year war. Casualties on both sides were in the hundreds of millions. In 2612 Confederation forces won a decisive victory at Charbydis Quasar. The result was the almost complete eradication of Pilgrim influence. Interestingly, as of that point, data indicates that not a single new Quasar has been charted. I'm afraid that that's all I have. Sorry.


MERLIN looks genuinely sad by his lack of information.


BLAIR pops out of bed.


BLAIR

Merlin.


MERLIN

(Looking up.)

Yes, Lieutenant.


BLAIR

You did good. Thanks.


MERLIN brightens and BLAIR'S up, pulls on pants and a shirt, heads for the door.


MERLIN

Where are you going?


BLAIR

To talk to someone who may know a little about the Pilgrims.


MERLIN

Lieutenant, I must caution you against bringing up the subject. It is officially forbidden....




[edit] 52A INT. PALADIN'S QUARTERS TIGER CLAW 52A

PALADIN stands at big windows, looks out at the vastness of space. Buzzer rings.


PALADIN

Come.


Door opens and BLAIR enters.


BLAIR

We need to talk.


PALADIN

About?


BLAIR

You said you fought in the Pilgrim wars.


PALADIN

...That's right.


BLAIR

Then you know why they happened, and who the Pilgrims were.


PALADIN turns to Blair, interested.


PALADIN

Why do you want to know?


BLAIR

All my life I've taken shit about being a Pilgrim. And I've never known why. Now I want to know. Who and what am I?


PALADIN

...You are who you choose to be, Blair. The combination of a thousand decisions and moral stands. What you are is one of the last descendants of a dying race.


BLAIR

Talk to me.


PALADIN smiles.


PALADIN

It's not that simple. That information is classified. So let me ask you a question: would you die for it?


BLAIR

...In a heartbeat.


PALADIN

Good. Pilgrims were descendants of the first human space explorers. For 500 years they defied the odds: they survived. As time passed, they developed the capacity to unerringly navigate the stars. They embraced space -they called it the Void -and she rewarded them with the gift of a flawless sense of direction. No matter where they were, they could always find their way home. No computers, Blair, no compasses, no charts. They just knew. Then, in a small number, about one in a million, a change started to occur.


BLAIR

What kind of change?


PALADIN

A biological development. One that allowed a small number of Pilgrim offspring -all off- worlders -to negotiate singularities. Somehow, they learned to feel the magnetic fields created by black holes and quasars. They learned to navigate not just the stars, but space-time itself.


BLAIR

They were like a NAVCOM A.I..


PALADIN

No. The NAVCOM A.I. is like them. It's a mathematical model of the psyche of a Pilgrim mind. The billions of calculations a second it makes to lead us through a black hole or quasar are a computer recreation of the mind of a single Pilgrim. Do you understand what I'm saying?


BLAIR

I think so. Why did the war start?


PALADIN turns back to the window. It's as though he's recalling painful memories.


PALADIN

...The Void gave the Pilgrim's a gift. But it wasn't free. You spend enough time out here, alone, you start to loose your humanity. As this small group of Pilgrims continued to develop, they began to loose touch with their heritage, with their humanity. They saw themselves as superior to man, and in their arrogance, they chose to abandon all things human to follow what they called their destiny. Some say they believed they were gods, others, that they were angels. They tried to break off from the Confederation. They lost.


BLAIR

...You believe that they were gods?


PALADIN turns back to Blair.


PALADIN

No. But I do believe they were touched by God. And like it or not, you've got some of that inside of you. The cross you hide under your tunic is a manifestation of a faith you don't understand, and the affirmation of a capacity you may or may not possess. Wear it proudly, boy, and hope.


BLAIR

For what?


PALADIN

That you have the gift. I have a feeling we may all need it before this is done. We have to get to the bridge. We'll be jumping soon.


BLAIR watches Paladin exit. Out the window, we see two patrolling Rapiers streak by in the distance. They're framed by a brilliant, swirling Quasar.
 

Wojo

Rear Admiral
Yeah I know - it makes me sad that everyday boring things like budgetary constraints and practicality mean that the movie doesn't come out EXACTLY as it should have in my imaginary ideal world full of boxing unicorns and transforming submarines...

I'm going to go ahead and make my final comment so I don't keep rolling this thread along too long and start rambling about nothing.

Every time I watch the WC movie I enjoy and appreciate it a little more. I challenge everyone who thinks its trash to try and find at least one thing they like about it, and see what happens.

End rant.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
The end of the pilgrim conflict and the start of the kilrathi war overlap.

Which is problematic in the long run, with one major story already set in those years that doesn't mention it. Chris McCubbin's attempt to respond by moving the date of the Kilrathi war up in the material he wrote for the handbook was also frustrating...

The problem is Blair's parents. As you can see in the script draft you quoted, the original idea was a lot better--the Pilgrim War was twenty years before first contact with the Kilrathi. Blair's parents were still alive and living in a colony somewhere in that version... but when they decided to kill them in the war in a later revision suddenly the war had to take place within Blair's lifetime.

... on the other hand! I do really like the idea that Wing Commander got the equivalent of the Mexican War, this lesser known conflict where the famous leaders first met and cut their teeth. I can imagine some good stories coming out of that.

(And thank Sivar we didn't get most of that conspiracy-to-remove-a-war-from-history stuff in the finished story. VERY 1990s!)

It kind of makes sense that people don't mention Pilgrims much by the time WC2 rolls around in this context.

If you don't like the Pilgrims, wait a month;) The unpublished novel, Pilgrim Truth, pretty much removes them from the continuity and gets Wing Commander 'back on track' for the later stories.


Namely the movie material stating that Tolwyn serve with distinction during the second half of the Pilgrim War, yet Action Stations has him graduating from the academy VERY shortly before the start of the Kilrathi War.

The handbook has Tolwyn commanding a ship as part of the second Grand Fleet--which actually happens several months *after* Action Stations. And since that novel ends with him being given his first command, it more or less works out.

Then there’s the matter of the Confed in the movie material emerging from the Pilgrim War as a growing military power, and the novel material showing Confed stagnating before the War with the Kilrathi. Even if these two different views can be held at the same time, it creates an military-industrial whiplash, sort of like if the US went from its post-WW2 status to pre-war status in the span of a year. That’s a way to fall.

You mean like how the US found itself totally unprepared for the Korean War immediately after World War II :)?

A lot of Action Stations is about the Navy being unprepared for the coming carrier war, though--I feel like we really do see the more impressive battleship navy that was used to fight the Pilgrims in that book.
 

Captain Obvious

Rear Admiral
While I’m quite impressed by how most things in the movie mesh with the established canon (some of them apparently by accident), the Pilgrim thing has always bugged me a bit, mostly since they were such a sudden addition. And while I realize that they were most likely placed to be a early stand-in for the Mandarins and the Border Worlders, after some thought and analysis, I realized that the Pilgrims aren’t some sort of Jedi-esque space magi (though the film novelizations tend to portray them this way), but rather the Newtypes from Mobile Suit Gundam. In fact the parallels are rather numerous, to the point where I wonder if Chris Roberts or an assistant writer wasn’t directly influenced by Gundam.

Yeah, I very much agree that there are a lot of shades of Gundam in the movie. The entire Pilgrim war summary we got was basically the same as Gundam's One Year War and Blair's abilities are far more similar to Newtypes than to a Jedi (though they're still a lot different and not as extraordinary as a Newtype even). I used the Jedi comparison since it's the more popular one (not to mention Gundam itself is heavily inspired by Star Wars of course) but I do think it has more in common with Gundam than Star Wars. Whether or not this was on purpose or accidental, who knows.

Something that I will be forgiving of when it comes to the Pilgrims is that Tolwyn seems to be interested in their abilities and in using them to his advantage. After all he seems to trust Paladin implicitly and takes great interest in Blair which I bet is less about his father being "a good man" and more about who his father married. This plays perfectly into Tolwyn's later obsession with genetics and his goal of making humans into a race of superior warriors. That's my conspiracy theory anyway.
 
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