SPOILER ALERT! Don't read any of this if you want to be completly suprised by the movie. This isn't too much of a spoiler, but everyone's different.
I just saw a private screening of the movie today and I figured I'll throw in my 2 cents. I have been a huge fan of the game series since the first one was released, and I've played and beaten all of them, plus the Privateer games, so naturally I was excited about seeing the movie. Unfortunately I have to say that I was greatly dissapointed in it. My first shock was that it was directed by Chris Roberts, and it shows. The film hardly exceeds the quality of the CD-Rom movies. The first half hour is a complete bore with nothing but a bunch of military/techno babble that only fans like us could understand, let alone enjoy. The names and faces of Blaire, Maniac, Taggart, Angel, and Towlyn are introduced, but almost nothing is told of them except thier military ranks in Confed. There is very little character development in Blaire and Angel. The chemistry is weak and thier romantic involvement comes near the end without anything leading up to it. Freddy Prince and the guy from scream are pretty good actors, but this movie shows very little of their talents. The black girl does a great job, as does French actor who plays Paladin (isn't he supposed to be Scottish?). The English actress who plays Angel (they should have changed her name from Deveraux to Davis) is really cute, but she's not the greatest performer. The producers must have assumed that the average American audience can't tell the difference between any Euro accents. Another weird thing is that Tolwyn is nice and Paladin is an asshole (at first). The sets were TERRIBLE. I think they were trying to get that Das Boot feel with the ship interiors because they looked like submarines (and about as technologicly advanced). The computers and switches looked as bad as a 70's sci-fi flick would today (i.e. Alien, Star Wars). They even used the new flat screen computer moniters and I could almost make out Sony on one of them. I think they would have something more advanced looking in the 27th century. The ships were all pretty good, except for that Rapiers (probobly because it was the only non-CG ships shown. They all have these big gatlin guns on the front, and guess what they fire - bullets! No mass drivers, no ion guns, just bullets. How lame. Aside from that, the Tigers Claw and all of the Kilrathi ships looked great, and they looked the same as they do in the game series. The BIGGEST disapointment in the movie is the Kilrathi. There are maybe two or three scenes where they talk, and they're all less than 10 seconds. Not only that, but they look like hairless cat muppets with very little moving feature in the animatronics. Their mouths just open and close, no lip variation. Worse than Yoda or Kermit. What I thought made the story lines of the first 3 games so interesting was the drama that took place within the Kilrathi empire. There is none of that in the movie, no Prince Trakkath or anything like it. The CG was the only thing that impressed me. The ships, explosions, and planets looked pretty good. Another cool thing about the movie was a little backround info about Confed and Blaire that wasn't in the game. I guess before the Kilrathi War, there were the Pilgram Wars (kinnda sounds like Clone Wars - WC Episode 1 in the future?). The Pilgrams were the first humans to chart the galaxy and as time progressed they evolved differently than humans who stayed on Earth. A war between the two races broke out and the pilgrims lost. Blaire is a half breed pilgram and he gets a lot of shit for it in the film. You must all hate me now if you've read this, sorry, but here's my report card:
Special FX (CG): B+
Set Design:a whoping F
I know the movie wasn't intended for an Oscar or anything, but Fox could have taken this seriously instead of making a low budget space movie in order to hype up people for the new Star Wars. Chris Roberts should stick to video games. BTW, there's no cameos by Mark Hamill or anyone else.
Chris Robert's Response
We had a screening this weekend in Westwood in LA.
It went a lot better than this post seems toindicate - Over 80% people rated the film good or above.
A couple of issues. The style and look of the film is deliberate. It is meant to be WWII submarines / fighters / battleships. If someone doesn't dig it or respond to something that stylistic I'm kind of powerless - Personally I like it, but I'm sure some people will hate it. But I must say that if you saw the trailer or any of the set photos you will have seen the sets and lighting / look of the film -- I know a lot of people dig it. Some obviously will not. That's life.
As for the Kilrathi, I do agree that they are disappointing in the film -- They are the area I'm least happy with -- I've never managed to get them to be as cool as they seemed in the first two games before moving to live action. I felt like they were overgrown puppets in the last two games I did (with live action). We tried in the film to make them "scarier" and more alien like, but made the mistake of building them up to be 8 foot tall (which isn't the natural size of a performer) Consequently they didn't move so well (especially in the tight Kilrathi sets). This being a fairly low budget sci-fi film prevented me from doing what usually happens in this case, which is going back and re-shooting the Kilrathi scenes with re-designed creatures or replacing them with CGI. The only option was to reduce their screen time.
I have to disagree over the character development (I am of course biased), as I do feel like this is a strength of this film - It's more than just space ships blowing up, you actually get to know the characters, like them, become involved and so ultimately care about what happens to them and the Tiger Claw. That was a goal of mine when I started on this project, I think it is in the film (I'm too close to be truly objective) and ultimately it is somewhat disheartening that "Sean" didn't think so. I've also heard people that really like the characters and people. Oh well. That's what opinions are for. Hopefully "Sean" is in the minority.
I'm glad that "Sean" liked the CGI, as DA and myself are extremely proud of the work we did for little money on a very tight schedule. I feel like it stands up to the best CGI space stuff out there.
As for my directing -- Go easy it is my first film :-) My next will be better (WC was not the first game I designed) I still feel like I was the best person for the job, and the one that would bring the spirit of the games across the best. The real problem with making something like WC for the big screen is that it will always get compared to Star Wars, Star Trek or other big budget affairs like Starship Troopers. It is tough competing with films that cost four times as much (which means more time to shoot, do reshoots, do the effects etc.) It's kind of like other people competing with WC on the game front, but they only have 500,000 dollars to make the game vs. my 4-12 million. I think that WC actually stands up pretty well given the budget disparity.
Anyway, it would interesting to see if anyone else who saw the film has posted anything, as I ran into quite a few WC players that really dug the movie.
Last Saturday I also got a chance to see the WC Movie. I have been a long time fan of the WC Saga and I would like to say that I liked it. I thought It was a great start to the WC movies. I mean itdid have it's ups and downs but what movie doesn't?
I'm not going to nit pick the parts I didn't like and Tell you guys all about the parts I did mainly because I don't want to ruin the movie for any one unlike the last guy who had seen the movie and posted a message. He might as well given you guys a 300 page detailed description about the hole damn movie. All I want to say is that I thought the movie was great, Chris Roberts did a great job on his first movie and that everyone who loves the wing commander games should go see it a judge for them selves.
Also I was asked too stay after the movie to discus it with about 20 other people. All but 4 people loved it even the non fans.