Gmovie-Nov98-Das erfolgreiche computerspiel schafft den weg in die kinos Wing Commander der film

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German article about the making of the Wing Commander movie

Translation by Philip Hadviger


Wing Commander The Movie

The successful computer game makes its way into the theaters


Who doesn't know the gigantic Space Odyssey "Wing Commander" which made it onto Store shelves year after year just in time for Christmas? The space simulation, which by now has achieved Cult Status, topped itself game after game. The first part was small enough to fit on a few floppies, whereas the last two parts of this impressive Epic required up to 4 CDs for its Hollywood quality Movie scenes. These scenes, which were shown in between the single Missions, featured such known Actors as Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker from "Star Wars") or Malcolm McDowell ("Star Trek - Generations").

Creator and Producer Chris Roberts could now finally make his dream come true - "Wing Commander" made it to the Big Screen.


The Movie:

Pegasus is a converted Asteroid of the Confederation, on which Space travelers can relax from their everyday routine at one of the many artificial beaches. But the peace and quite doesn't last very long, as the evil Kilrathi, aliens that look like a combination of Humans and Cats, arrive at this location. On Board of one of the Kilrathi-Battleships is a "Pilgrim", a Human who doesn't belong to the Confederation. This "Pilgrim" betrays the people of "Pegasus" and with the help of one Kilrathi Warrior, he steals the navigation computer of the enclave, which contains valuable Positional data. Afterwards the Colony is destroyed by the Kilrathi.


The Navigation computer allows the Kilrathi to sneak behind the Confederation's borders and attack Earth directly. The Confederation's mission is to find this Computer and to stop the Kilrathi before they can attack Earth.


Admiral Tolwyn (David Warner) sends an encrypted Message to Lt. Chris Blair (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), a young fighter pilot who is fresh out of the Space academy. Blair is a "Half-Pilgrim", who attempts to use his genetically inherited ability, which gives him full orientation in Space. This ability comes in handy, as the ships in the "Wing Commander" universe have to travel great distances through so called "Jump Points" (Jump points through Hyper space).


Blair and is friend Todd "Maniac" Marshall (Mathew Lillard) are onroute to their first mission on the Battleship "Tiger Claw". On the Trade freighter "Diligent" they come upon the mysterious Captain Paladin (Tcheky Karyo), who allows Blair to fly through the secret "Jump Point" Scylla, which is located at the edges of a Black Hole - a dangerous undertaking. But Blair manages to complete the trip, which usually takes 6 months, in just 3 minutes even though he nearly destroys his ship in the process. When they finally arrive at the "Tiger Claw", Blair discovers the beautiful "Angel" Deveraux (Saffron Burrows), who, as it turns out later on, is the person in direct command of him as a "Wing Commander". He also meets the Captain of the Ship, Sansky (David Suchet) and his first officer, Gerald (Jurgen Prochnow), who doesn't hide his antipathy against Blair's "Pilgrim" Background.


Just a little later, Paladin navigates the "Tiger Claw" through a "Jump Point" to a small brown Dwarf Asteroid, where Blair flies his first Mission. During the patrol trough a nearby Asteroid belt, Blair and Deveroux find and destroy two Kilrathi-fighters, which where hiding out in the area. Deveroux gets an order from Sansky to continue the sweep of the area to find any other Kilrathi ships. After not detecting any other vessels, Paladin, suspecting a trap, orders the fighters to return to the "Tiger Claw". This first encounter is only the beginning of the Battle, in which the fate of the Earth will be decided. In addition the lines between good and bad are blurred because a traitor is aboard the "Tiger Claw"....


The Production:

Filming occurred from February until April 1998 in Luxemburg, a pretty exotic film location for Americans. Producer Todd Moyer was full of enthusiasm about the Studios: "In the USA we could have never made a movie like 'Wing Commander' for only 25 million dollars - here it is no problem at all!" Moyer, who also worked on movies like "The Mask". "Timecop" and "Barb Wire", believes that Luxemburg offers great possibilities and discounts for this type of movie: "The Audience for this movie has very high expectations, and we are trying our best to make the movie look more expensive. In the USA 50 Million Dollars would have been a requirement." Todd guides the visitors through the studio and explains the very realistic sets of the "Tiger Claw's" Flightdecks. The buildings used to be part of an Ammunitions Factory and were just recently used as a Gothic Cathedral from the movie "American Werewolf in Paris".


In the background Technicians are working on the "Rapiers" - the fighters of the "Tiger Claw", which are lined up in the Hangar. These Fighters weren't just made out of wood, no, they are the old bodies of British airplanes, which were modified with Metal, Wood and Plastic in order to act as Trailer size space fighters. When one hits the fighter's body, one can feel the steel. These very massive fighters should be sold once the filming is complete because it would be a shame to recycle them.


Other interesting Space vehicles include a "Space Bulldozer" and a Tanker, both recycled from the movie "Judge Dredd". The tour continues and Moyer points out a Storage room which is full of containers and piles of boxes and the walls are covered with Monitors, Cables and other lines - all very realistic looking. All of it came from the mind of the Oscar nominated ("Titanic") production designer Peter Lamont and his colleagues. "The small and confined areas on board of the "Tiger Claw" remind me of 'The Boat in Space'" says Peter Lamont.


A few minutes away from the Studio building is the Hotel Intercontinental Luxemburg, a gigantic Hotel, which is right at the end of the main street. The Hotel is completely packed with more than 200 Crew members of the Film. On the 4 floor they have an editing room and a Computer animation studio. From the they send daily updates with the latest data to Digital Anvil, the Animation Firm in Austin, Texas. It looks like the Post Production of the movie is happening simultaneously with the filming, but all this work is necessary to combine the endless special effects with the movie.


The Actors:

Freddie Prinze Jr. (Blair)

His latest role was in the movie "I know what you did last Summer", alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Prince also starred in the movies "House of Yes" and in "To Gillian on her 37 Birthday" with Michelle Pfeiffer. Freddie was born and grew up in Albuquerque. His acting career didn't start until after school and his move to Los Angeles. He had small parts in the TV shows like "Family Matters", "The Watcher" and "Detention". He loves Computer games and Science-Fiction. "When I was a kid I watched Science-Fiction 24 hours a day 7 days a week. My bought my first 'Wing Commander' game when I was 15 years old and I was completely blown away, so obviously I bought all of the sequels that followed."


Saffron Burrows (Deveraux)

The British Actress started her career in theater at the age of 17. She is known though movies like "Hotel de Love", "One Night Stand" and "In the name of the Father" with Daniel Day Lewis. She just finished filming "The Loss of Sexual Innocence", in which she played twins who were separated at birth and grow up and Italy and England respectively. She really liked her role in "Wing Commander": "It is a really different role from all the other movies I have done, where I usually play women who have some kind of problem! My character in 'Wing Commander' is completely different, she is very hard, cold and direct, but deep down very passionate.


Mathew Lillard (Maniac)

His first big role in the Big Screen was a Stuart in the movie "Scream". His next two projects were "S.L.C. Punk" and "Senseless" (in which he play a Hockey Player). He also portrayed the serial killer in "Hackers" and appeared in the TV movie "If these walls could talk". Then role in "Wing Commander" was a real challenge for the Californian actor.


Jurgen Prochnow (Gerald)

Compared to all the other actors, Jurgen Prochnow has been in this business for a while. In many roles include appearances in "Legendender Leidenshaft" with Brad Pitt, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinnas well as "Body of Evidence" with Madonna, "The Boat", "Dune", "Das7. Zeichen" and even a role in the "Wing Commander" related game "Privateer 2: The Darkening".