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Based on a popular series of video games, Wing Commander introduces us to an elite fighter squadron in the year 2654. The Earth confederation is at war with a vicious race called the Kilrathi. The Kilrathi have captured a navigational device which will allow them to jump through worm-holes in space to arrive behind enemy lines. Only this highly trained squadron, led by three young pilots, stand in their way.
Christopher “Maverick” Blair (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is just out of the Academy, but his lack of experience is more than compensated by his exceptional navigational skills, though he is still haunted by the deaths of his parents in a previous galactic war. His friend, Todd “Maniac” Mashall (Matthew Lillard), is a brash, gung-ho fighter jock always rushing into danger. Their wing commander and leader is Jeanette “Angel” Deveraux (Saffron Burrows). Assigned these two new pilots by Admiral Geoffery Tolwyn (David Warner), the strong and beautiful Deveraux is at first resentful, but later develops feelings for Blair. Perhaps the two will find time for romance on their way to saving the solar system.
Wing Commander is a 1999 science fiction film loosely based on the video game series of the same name. It was directed by Chris Roberts, the creator of the game series, and stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Matthew Lillard, Saffron Burrows, Tchéky Karyo, Jürgen Prochnow, David Suchet, and David Warner.
About the Story
It is the year 2454 and an interstellar war is raging between the Terran Confederation and the Kilrathi Empire, whose people, the cat-like Kilrathi, seek the complete eradication of the human race. Lieutenants Christopher Blair (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and Todd Marshall (Matthew Lillard) are pilots fresh out of training and traveling aboard the small supply ship Diligent, commanded by Captain James Taggart (Tchéky Karyo), to their new posting aboard the carrier TCS Tiger Claw in the Vega Sector. En route, the ship gets pulled into a gravity well and loses their navigation computer. While Taggart repairs it, Blair is able to space-jump them to safety, calculating the jump in under ten seconds, a notable feat as Taggart notes the computer couldn’t have done it that fast.
While this is happening, a massive Kilrathi armada attacks Pegasus Station, a remote but vital Confederation base and captures a navigation computer, through which it will be able to locate Earth. Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn (David Warner) directs Blair, whose father he knew from a previous conflict of the Confederation known as the Pilgrim Wars, to carry orders to the Tiger Claw, under the command of Captain Jason Sansky (David Suchet), to fight a suicidal delaying action to let the rest of the Terran fleet reach Earth since it is two hours behind the Kilrathi.
Along with the awkwardness of joining a new unit, and continual pranks that require discipline from his wing commander Lieutenant Commander Jeanette Deveraux (Saffron Burrows), Blair fights the distrust of Commander Paul Gerald (Jürgen Prochnow) and his crewmate Lt. Hunter (Richard Dillane) because of the drastic orders he brings from the Admiral, and because his mother was a “Pilgrim”, a strain of humans who were the cause of the Pilgrim Wars.
Pilgrims were the first human explorers and colonists and had developed the innate ability to navigate space by feel despite obstacles such as black holes. Marshall finds a kindred spirit in Lieutenant Rosie Forbes (Ginny Holder) and falls in love with her, but she dies when her fighter is damaged after a battle with an advance group of Kilrathi vessels and crashes on the flight deck during landing as the result of friendly competition with Marshall. The incident enrages Deveraux and shakes Marshall’s confidence.
Wing Commander (1999)
Directed by: Chris Roberts
Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Saffron Burrows, Matthew Lillard, Tchéky Karyo, Jürgen Prochnow, David Suchet, David Warner, Hugh Quarshie, Richard Dillane
Screenplay by: Kevin Droney
Production Design by: Peter Lamont
Cinematography by: Thierry Arbogast
Film Editing by: Peter Davies
Costume Design by: Magali Guidasci
Set Decoration by: Michael Ford, Richard Roberts
Art Direction by: Simon Bowles, Ken Court, James Hambidge, Mark Harris, Simon Lamont, Charles Dwight Lee, Alan Tomkins
Music by: David Arnold, Kevin Kiner
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual references and sci-fi action / violence.
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 12, 1999