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.
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 on
route 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"
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"....
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.
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 37th
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
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 "Legenden
der Leidenshaft" with Brad Pitt, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn
as well as "Body of Evidence" with Madonna, "The Boat", "Dune", "Das
7. Zeichen" and even a role in the "Wing Commander" related game
"Privateer 2: The Darkening".