The Movie - Yeah, you hate it. But how would you fix it?

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
So I'm not asking what would you do different. I'm asking a different question... Soon... within the next few years, it's my understanding that the publishing rights to the movie revert to Chris Roberts at which time there's a possibility that given that the funds are available, he could take the existing footage and fix/improve some of the effects and reintroduce deleted scenes and put out a spec. ed. DVD/Blu-ray.

So again, the question is, given that you can't change the actors, ships or set designs, or even the script, what do you think or how do you think you could make the film more agreeable?

I'll preface this discussion by mentioning that a lot of what people hate was done in the editing room. The difference between the workprint and the finished film is somewhat astonishing really. Some of it makes sense considering they removed subplots but some of it is just over edited. Single lines of dialogue are trimmed out here and there and pauses in conversations are trimmed down and glances and expressiveness removed for the sake of a quicker pace. Other lines of dialogue are moved around within the scene making them sound unnatural. Sometimes the extra seconds make a world of difference and other times the trimming is probably justified, but overall some of the little bits that are lost are really tragic loses as far as scene continuity and flow of the scene are concerned.

Some scenes just need time to breath. When blair explains to Angel why he wears the Pilgrim Cross, Angel gets all emotional talking about her parents and Bossman. There's a line in there about her needing to suit up. It's one line. It's not really shakespear either, but that's not the point. They moved the line up in the scene for some reason. So instead of her trying not to bawl her eyes out, and basically signaling Blair to leave her alone at the end of the conversation, the whole thing sounds odd and flat.

When I added the DVD version's scenes into the workprint, my final runtime was a whopping 2h and 5 min including credits. that's a good 25 minutes extra... Some of it is whole scenes, some of it is just a line of dialogue... But get this: The workprint I have is a mess too. Some sections have been edited into a mess already. THere's bits missing here and there where there obviously should be a least a little more dialogue.

Somewhere along the line early on, someone decided that they just didn't have the money to finish the effects of Merlin. So even though they apparently filmed to allow for it, there isn't really any version where it's included. But as soon as they did it it becomes apparent that they must have realized that -no matter how bad an idea Merlin was in the first place - removing Merlin was a royal screw up. So in the workprint you have people like Paladin and Angel speaking Merlin's lines to try and make the traitor stuff make sense without Merlin. It just doesn't work... at all.

Stuff is trimmed odd too. Like they apparently toyed with the idea of the Kilrathi setting a timmed self destruct. But then they don't address it or how they dissable it at all. Originally, the Kilrathi captain on the Concomm is supposed to pray before his sivar idol about sacrificing themselves or something but blair kills him before they can hit the big (not kidding) self destruct button. Overall the whole raid is trimmed up like crazy for no reason. It's all chopped up and just doesn't make sense in the final version. The whole battle is more complex but mostly just flows better.

So, one of my main fixes is a re-edit. Take out some of the awful lines... put in most of what was taken out... (not necessarily everthing. Some bits are fine left out).
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I forgot to mention that the deleted scenes include Blair getting a head shot on a kilrathi, with blood that runs down it's face. Blair also grenades the Kilrathi going for the big ol' self destruct button and explodes it's chest all over everything.
 

CT25

Captain
Just to make sure I understand you correctly, what do you mean by we can't change the script? I mean, with the other contstraints you put on this thread, wouldn't that add up to mean not much, if anything, changing at all?
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Just to make sure I understand you correctly, what do you mean by we can't change the script? I mean, with the other contstraints you put on this thread, wouldn't that add up to mean not much, if anything, changing at all?

Script considerations don't change what is already shot. I realize the constraints are tight, but if we were to allow script changes then we might as well shoot a new movie since that renders the excercise a moot point.

Sure, there should have been at least another draft to tighten up the dialogue and fix some of the pacing. And if they were going to get rid of Merlin, they should have done a rewrite before shooting to avoid the issues surrounding needing to drop the traitor subplot. So, yes, I'm limiting this to effects fixes and other isssue.

There's no reason we can't redo or add some CGI... perhaps make the Kilrathi look different. We can move scenes... remove scenes. ADR dialogue in, or remove certain lines. But you need to make sure that what you do makes structural sense so that the end result is actually coherent.
 

Death Angel

Rear Admiral
There is actually already a fanedit out there. You can find some information about it and what was changed here:

http://fanedit.org/293/

@AD:
I agree in a lot of points with you concerning the dialogues. Still, I think the reasons why a lot of people didn't like the movie are that it moves too far away from the games - like the ship designs, Paladin already working for Special Ops, all the Pilgrim stuff which was never mentioned in the games.

I am not judging this changes - this has been done several times before, but I think these are even more important issues than wrong paced dialogues, subplots leading to nowhere and bad CGI (IMO the CGI was actually good, would have loved to see more of it).

But as you already said, therefor you would need to make a completely new movie.
 

Mancubus

Rear Admiral
I would redo the Kilrathi. Essentialy I mean doing the same as was done to a Han/Jabba conversation in A New Hope Special Edition. Complete digitall overlay over the... Hairless... Thingies...
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I wonder if Merlin is the biggest problem with the movie. Not necessarily because he crippled what footage could be used but because his exorcism was such a success.

For those unfamiliar, the shooting script for the movie originally included a character named Merlin who was Blair's personal hologram. He provided exposition and awful, awful jokes at various points.

For example, when you first meet Blair he's just sitting alone reading a book--in the film that was initially shot he was having a conversation with Merlin that set up his situation ahd introducing his character.

This was all filmed, with a Barbie doll that would have had the Merlin character overlayed onto it in post-production.

It wasn't until later that Chris Roberts decided that Merlin wasn't do-able and recut the movie to remove him entirely. Instead, Blair's Rapier can now talk and provide one or two bits of absolutely *essential* exposition.

We know it's a kludge, but I think it's remarkably seamless--imagine editing Star Wars to remove R2D2 and leaving no one wondering what was missing.

BUT! All that set a bad standard, because now the go-to solution to the movie was massive editing. Kilrathi look awkward? Remove them! Traitor plot confusing test audiences? Cut out the film's climax! Etc. It all technically worked, but you end up losing a lot of cool stuff and building a film out of scar tissue.

(Let me say: I do not understand how it came to this. I remember getting my copy of the script well before the movie came ot (eBay!)... and I immediately knew Merlin *dumb*. I was a 17 year old high school kid and I knew this right off--how did the most intelligent, creative people I know not realize this sooner? Maybe there would have been some recompense had Merlin been played by Mark Hamill, but I genuinely can't see it...)

One thing I would like to see is edits of the movie that treat the Kilrathi differently. I want to see how it works with all the Kilrathi scenes intact--I know they're weird looking, but I do wonder if familiarity (working with the footage for months and months) bred more contempt than necessary behind-the-scenes. I'd also like to see one with the Kilrathi removed *entirely*, so we only see Blair's story (like WC1).

I would use my airbursh very carefully on Freddie Prinze Jr. I think he's the only genuinely weak actor in the movie and there' so much really awkward dialogue that should be touched up (like his weirdly fast explanation of what Scylla is--it just sticks in your craw).

Another thing I would try (going back in time) is letting the folks at Digital Anvil who did the amazing credits sequence try and add their own narrative a la Starship Troopers. Do a series of "newsreels" that punctuate the movie--one for the intro, one at the very ending and a few mixed in between that flesh out the fight with the Kilrathi or address the viewer a bit ore directly about the (somewhat inexplicable) threat in the movie.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
So the whole idea of Pilgrims stay in? Again, just for confirmation.

If you think you can delete some of those scenes without damaging the narative than I don't see why you couldn't get rid of some of it. But be aware that a lot of the missing scenes center around the Pilgrim traitors... Sansky injured in bed... The Pilgrim traitor talking with the Kilrathi Admiral. Blair and Gerald fighting on the Concomm because of the Pilgrim traitor, and on and on and on.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I wonder if Merlin is the biggest problem with the movie. Not necessarily because he crippled what footage could be used but because his exorcism was such a success.

...BUT! All that set a bad standard, because now the go-to solution to the movie was massive editing. Kilrathi look awkward? Remove them! Traitor plot confusing test audiences? Cut out the film's climax! Etc. It all technically worked, but you end up losing a lot of cool stuff and building a film out of scar tissue.

To some degree, they had to fix the pace of the first half of the movie as soon as they deleted the traitor stuff. Without a couple of scenes of the Traitor on the kilrathi ship the movie takes an awful long time to get to Charybids. The pacing is all off and the Kilrathi threat seems almost forgotten about for the first... half hour to forty-five minutes. I *think* that's why some of the earlier bits were trimmed down, but also why a few of the scenes were moved around... so that there was a more even focus on the main plot instead of getting sidetracked with character introductions once Blair and Maniac get to the claw.

THe most notorious move is how Blair meeting Gerald was moved from after he mistakes Angel for a greasemonkey to before...So now blair comes off the diligent *on the flight deck* and goes to the bridge, and then goes back to the flight deck? So now we have an awful ADR line on the way to the mess hall about her being a "tight ass CO" instead of him complaing about Gerald being a "tight-ass" XO.

We also lose the tattoo minor subplot, though I think that decision was more deliberate because it was akward and presented some timeline issues. It was tied in to Blair and Maniac and Paladin getting off the diligent and entering the flight deck though. Basically, if you look close in the movie, Paladin has a tattoo on his neck. in the first part of the film Blair keeps trying to ask Paladin about it. Supposedly he got it in a Kilrathi POW camp

He was captured on the Iason? In one of the early drafts there was some stuff about people aging slower if they traveled and near light speed too much - Hence the line about everyone being dead and buried when they get back from a tour of duty.

The tattoo part did provide one of the best lines in the whole film though. Maniac asks Paladin what the Kilrathi look like, and he yells out "UGLY!"
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
how did the most intelligent, creative people I know not realize this sooner?

Maybe they hired George Lucas as a consultant?

Seriously, I still struggle to understand why the movie industry in general feels the need to incorporate cutsey little characters and fifth-grader level jokes in so many movies, even if it's totally inappropriate, and often to the detriment of the movie. C3P0 and Jar Jar in the Star Wars Prequels, the way Gimli's character is presented in Lord of the Rings, the Gargoyles in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc. You don't see Quentin Tarantino putting a precocious and witty eleven year old to make comically cute blunders in the middle of Reservoir Dogs. You don't have a friendly little talking animal companion on Harrison Ford's shoulder throughout Blade Runner.

And yet so often such characters get introduced to otherwise serious movies. Is it so the movie plays better to pre-teens in the test audiences? Is it because there is some Hollywood Producer's code that requires them to force directors, editors, and script writers to try to insert such characters? From all accounts I've heard, cutting Merlin out was smart. But maybe re-shooting some of the critical scenes AFTER cutting him out would have been smarter (although probably not in their budget).

I would use my airbursh very carefully on Freddie Prinze Jr. I think he's the only genuinely weak actor in the movie and there' so much really awkward dialogue that should be touched up (like his weirdly fast explanation of what Scylla is--it just sticks in your craw).

Totally agree. In fact, my first rather snarky thought of a way to respond to this thread was to suggest that Freddie Prinze Jr. be edited out entirely and then you see if you can manage to edit a cohesive movie together with just the other characters. It actually reminds me a lot of the second Star Wars Prequel. If you could just get rid of Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen, you might actually have the seed of a pretty good movie looking at just Obi Wan. In Wing Commander, if you just got rid of Freddie, you'd be left with a cast of pretty good actors with some pretty compelling storylines to act out.

Of course, this wouldn't actually work...he's too much of the movie for there to be a movie left. So you just have to really carefully edit to try to hide his flaws.

It's a shame, because I thought that some of the other actors, especially Angel, Paladin, and Lilliard's Maniac, were absolutely superb (making Freddie look even worse by comparison). I know I'm in the minority here, but I loved Maniac in the movie.
 

Wojo

Rear Admiral
How do we know the movie kilrathi *don't* have fur? Y'know... down there... All that armor covering them up - who would have thought brutal space aliens were prudes?

2vc9av8.jpg


Ah the wonders of technology! There's your cgi enhancement right there...
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
"newsreels"
newsreels belong in a Paul Verhoeven movie(Total Recall, Robocop, Starship Troopers, etc), or movies based upon that. Putting those in are mostly meant to chill the mood and have people looking at something funny or violent, and then head back into the story. These movies are intended to be slampacked with gore, violence and action.

The main problem the movie has on it's own(this excludes the things we know is that the movie takes itself to seriously, if it were more gung-ho, with kilrathi giving weird looks as they get a lock on and look scared stupid as their ship explodes(like independance day), and remained shouting and cursing even during the explosion of their ship, it might have turned out to be a likeable hit movie for the main audience. Even it's jokes(and even the looks of maniac and the buttoning/zipping up with him and rosie as comic reliefs) were serious. Adding a bit of edited-out gore would not dramattically change the movie.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
The main problem the movie has on it's own(this excludes the things we know is that the movie takes itself to seriously, if it were more gung-ho, with kilrathi giving weird looks as they get a lock on and look scared stupid as their ship explodes(like independance day), and remained shouting and cursing even during the explosion of their ship, it might have turned out to be a likeable hit movie for the main audience. Even it's jokes(and even the looks of maniac and the buttoning/zipping up with him and rosie as comic reliefs) were serious. Adding a bit of edited-out gore would not dramattically change the movie.

I don't know... my reaction back in the day was that it wasn't serious enough... I mean, to me the games always seems more mature (at least for a video game) than other fare like super mario. So to have a teen oriented and marketed movie felt like a step back. Of course gore doesn't change it or make it more mature. But there's all kinds of little bits that were excised that make it feel more... like Wing Commander.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
So to have a teen oriented and marketed movie felt like a step back.
To you it's a complex and involved story, to 99% of the audience it is "just another movie to see on a friday night"

When I got to see the movie it was on an imported region1 DVD rental, and I was very, very enthousiastic, had some friends over, and the introduction sequence was fantastic, as was the bombing run on the pegasus base, after that enthousiasm settled down. But I'm sure we have been over that passage in this very forum at least a million times.

Funny thing you mention super mario; that movie did their best to make a complex story around a simple concept, and failed in pretty much everything but maintaining the characters look(in the end they put on the green and red suits), same thing with Double Dragon, and Street fighter. One movie that did keep the look and even managed a sequel was mortal kombat, and even that was just plain funny to enterain the audience(Jax ripping his "months of surgery" cybernetics off in a second, and johnny cage handing an autographed picture to scorpion.

The choice to alter the look of the ships, aliens and stuff was the director's choice, and it was his concept to begin with, and ofcourse there was limited budget.

However the movie still gets regularly broadcast and media attention, and that puts it on par with sci-fi cult classics like "enemy mine", while the only thing in the media remaining from the super mario movie is the song "almost unreal" from Roxette.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
To you it's a complex and involved story, to 99% of the audience it is "just another movie to see on a friday night"

When I got to see the movie it was on an imported region1 DVD rental, and I was very, very enthousiastic, had some friends over, and the introduction sequence was fantastic, as was the bombing run on the pegasus base, after that enthousiasm settled down. But I'm sure we have been over that passage in this very forum at least a million times.

Funny thing you mention super mario; that movie did their best to make a complex story around a simple concept, and failed in pretty much everything but maintaining the characters look(in the end they put on the green and red suits), same thing with Double Dragon, and Street fighter. One movie that did keep the look and even managed a sequel was mortal kombat, and even that was just plain funny to enterain the audience(Jax ripping his "months of surgery" cybernetics off in a second, and johnny cage handing an autographed picture to scorpion.

The choice to alter the look of the ships, aliens and stuff was the director's choice, and it was his concept to begin with, and ofcourse there was limited budget.

However the movie still gets regularly broadcast and media attention, and that puts it on par with sci-fi cult classics like "enemy mine", while the only thing in the media remaining from the super mario movie is the song "almost unreal" from Roxette.

For sure the WC movie takes itself more seriously than other video game adaptions, but I'm not sure what you are arguing here... That it should have been more jokey? Of course I know more about the WC universe (heck even the movie) than your average movie goer. But I'm under no illusion that the film is some sprawling indept epic. I was merely speaking of my impressions back in 1999. I actually had fun with it even though I thought the costumes were a bit funny, and that the kilrathi looked wierd.

That's not the concept of this thread though. Take the choices the director made (back in 1998) and bring it more in line with the film they intended to make. That's goal number one for me. Some of you others might have other motivations, but that's why we're having this conversation.

Like you said, the fact that it gets airplay still today is proof that it connects at least on some levels with a certain segment of the population. I feel there's potential with what's available and that it just hasn't been realized fully.
 

Wojo

Rear Admiral
Interesting that the fanedit cuts out a lot of the character/character interaction, and focuses on being a war/action film... I don't know if thats really in the spirit of Wing Commander, given that each game told the story via mainly conversations between characters... Here's my take...

1. Re-insert /add more kilrathi... 'Pan's Labyrinth' has proven that animatronics can be on par with, or even exceed, the quality of today's digital effects. My real beef with how they were treated was their inane dialogue, not how they looked.

2. If adding the traitor sub-plot requires merlin, re-insert him. I suspect many reasons for his removal had to do with the reality-breaking fact of AI software being able to converse with some degree of humor or attitude. How would it feel if we were to never be sure whether merlin really was an AI construct, or someone broadcasting? Brings to mind the replicant/non-replicant dilemma at the end of Blade Runner...

3. Remove pilot self-narration. The whole section at the end where Blair talks us through what's happening ("Ha ha! It's too big!!!" (thats what she said) ) just grates the ears... By that point, there are enough explosions and effects to narrate via visual means. There are surely other areas this could be removed also.

4. Remove 'firing solution' from terran lexicon. I remember first seeing it as kilrathi subtitles and thinking "Yep, thats the cats alright. Surgical." Then seeing Blair 'self narrate' again and kicking air frustratingly.

5. Cut Paladin from telling everyone to be quiet during the whole ww2/submarine depth charge scene. Just that line. Everything else about that is fine - it's not about being quiet, people just would naturally shut the hell up when hiding on an asteroid being bombed by the enemy. I would. (In space, no-one can hear you defy the laws of physics)

I always wondered why Sansky paused before ordering 'Shields Up' (in that awesome commanding tone "I do say so Mr Taggart!" - adding more of David Suchet will always be an improvement). It makes sense if you consider the whole traitor sub-plot huh?

Anyways, my two cents. The idea of a newsreel-esque intro is interesting...

M.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
My real beef with how they were treated was their inane dialogue, not how they looked.

I don't really recall the cat dialogue being that terrible, but wasn't it all subtitled? It would be easy to just make new subtitles.

2. If adding the traitor sub-plot requires merlin, re-insert him. I suspect many reasons for his removal had to do with the reality-breaking fact of AI software being able to converse with some degree of humor or attitude. How would it feel if we were to never be sure whether merlin really was an AI construct, or someone broadcasting? Brings to mind the replicant/non-replicant dilemma at the end of Blade Runner...

It's not that he was trying to be humorous and creating a big bad metaphysical question. The problem was trying to be humorous to little children.

4. Remove 'firing solution' from terran lexicon. I remember first seeing it as kilrathi subtitles and thinking "Yep, thats the cats alright. Surgical." Then seeing Blair 'self narrate' again and kicking air frustratingly.

Firing solution is a real human term, though. I don't understand why it should be removed.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
If adding the traitor sub-plot requires merlin, re-insert him. I suspect many reasons for his removal had to do with the reality-breaking fact of AI software being able to converse with some degree of humor or attitude. How would it feel if we were to never be sure whether merlin really was an AI construct, or someone broadcasting? Brings to mind the replicant/non-replicant dilemma at the end of Blade Runner...

I'm curious how the movie would feel with Merlin. I still don't think Merlin is a good idea. But I do think the movie would be better with Merlin back in since so much hinges on his character

Remove pilot self-narration. The whole section at the end where Blair talks us through what's happening ("Ha ha! It's too big!!!" (thats what she said) ) just grates the ears... By that point, there are enough explosions and effects to narrate via visual means. There are surely other areas this could be removed also.

Hah! This is exactly the kind of pointed suggestion I'm looking for... And I completely agree.


Cut Paladin from telling everyone to be quiet during the whole ww2/submarine depth charge scene. Just that line. Everything else about that is fine - it's not about being quiet, people just would naturally shut the hell up when hiding on an asteroid being bombed by the enemy. I would. (In space, no-one can hear you defy the laws of physics)
You could drop the 'shush' without much effect I think, but I would keep the bit about the ship "still being out there.'

I always wondered why Sansky paused before ordering 'Shields Up' (in that awesome commanding tone "I do say so Mr Taggart!" - adding more of David Suchet will always be an improvement). It makes sense if you consider the whole traitor sub-plot huh?

He's actually holding a Pilgrim cross in this scene. You can see it if you pause the DVD. The workprint has some alternate angles for this scene but I don't think you get any better a look at the cross.




I don't really recall the cat dialogue being that terrible, but wasn't it all subtitled? It would be easy to just make new subtitles.
There's only about five to ten lines of kilrathi dialogue in the entire film... There's obviously a few more in the workprint.


It's not that he was trying to be humorous and creating a big bad metaphysical question. The problem was trying to be humorous to little children.

It's my understanding that Merlin would be mostly added in post. I don't see any reason we couldn't rewrite all of Merlin's dialogue as well. The only caveat is that we somehow have to work with any footage and dialogue of Freddy Prinze reacting to it.

'does the mine-trick work in a raptor?

I don't get it.
 
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