I just got back from seeing Wing Commander here in Brisbane. You'd hardly know that it was showing at all. The small independant cinema I went to only had two screenings each day for weekends and three for weekdays. With holidays on, you'd think there'd be more. But, with so little advertising, the distributors mustn't be expecting much to come of this movie.
After dodging all the munchkins and their parents who were there to watch Tarzan (which I hope to see) and Elmo in Grouchland (which, strangely I also hope to see... Hey don't judge me, I'm a child of the 80's!) I and my dad finally got into the cinema, which was relatively empty. Interestingly enough, I think I was one of the youngest people in there.
I've been waiting for this movie since February, so I was excited. I was also cautious, after having read and heard so many negative reviews. After seeing this movie, I have vowed never to listen to a film reviewer or critic again.
This was a brilliant movie. The opening was beautiful, with the star map tracing out humanity's exploration of the stars, and the voiceovers narrating history as it sped along, before the dark cloud of the Kilrathi Empire merged into the map. Absolutely gorgeous.
As for complaints about a lack of plot, there was plenty here. Earth's gonna get wiped out: someone's gotta stop it. What more do you need? And space has probably never looked so good, the team that did the SFX work for this movie should be commended.
I'm not sure if the Pilgrims were always part of Chris Robert's vision for Wing Commander, but I felt they contributed well to the universe he's created here. It also an alternative explanation as to why Paladin liked Blair so much. That was another thing: I had to put most of what I knew about the games aside here. This is not a movie of the game, but based on the game, and its still great.
The cast was wonderful; everyone portrayed their characters well, especially Freddie Prinze Jr. and Mathew Lillard. I loved the friendship these two shared: I was expecting them to hate each other, a la WCIII, though this was much better. Maniac's still a psycho, but he's got a compassionate side as well that gives him more depth.
I only have two minor complaints, why did they have to send Blair in with the marines, unless I missed something. Are pilots crossed trained as marines in this Confederation? Also, I was disappointed that they didn't show us more of Blair's genius as a pilot. Sure, what they did show of him proved to us he is very good, but I would have liked more.
I hope this does get a sequel. While it has a muted ending, which I liked, the war is still on. I'd love to see how they'd incorporate plot elements of WCII into this WC universe.
Speculating about a sequel also made me ask myself a question I didn't think I would: would I want the game cast (Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson, Malcolm McDowell and others) to star in future sequels? While I'd love to see Mark Hamill have a crack at this new version of Blair's character, I felt Freddie Prinze Jr. and co. did such a great job that I wouldn't mind if he and the others stuck around.
Anyway, I gonna recommend this movie to everyone I know. Sure, some of them might not like it, but most of them will. Hopefully we'll make enough noise to make the distributors realise they have a good movie on their hands here, and they should advertise it like one. But then again, one newspaper described this as "Star Wars Episode I, but without the hype." Fair description that, considering how much I like both Wing Commander and Star Wars.
Anyway, any Australians that are reading this, GO SEE THIS MOVIE! Sure, its not the games, but its still Wing Commander, and I love it to pieces.