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Okay, so most of you are going to see this one purely because the Star Wars prequel trailer is playing before it, so I should probably review that instead. But those two minutes flit by so quickly (and how psyched is Natalie Portman's agent?) that it's a desperate tease; George Lucas knows how to work the moviegoing unconscious into a furious lather.
Not so with the actual movie following it, however: "Wing Commander" proves just how hard it is to make a space movie worth watching. Of course, putting a Star Wars trailer before this thing is a little like serving escargot before a Big Mac, but seriously—if you're going to spend that much money, can you at least make the characters somewhat compelling? Freddie Prinze Jr. stars as a talented young pilot who has inherited some of the genetic coding of the "pilgrims," a died-out race of space travelers who had the unique ability to jump through black holes and quasars without the aid of navigational equipment. Of course, he's got a roguish young flight partner who just can't straighten up and fly right, and there's the usual cadre of battle-toughened good guys slaving under a hard-as-nails (but beautiful) wing commander. And, not to be outdone on the cliche-o-meter, Prinze's dad was one of the greatest fighter pilots ever, blah, blah, blah.
There are evil, grunting bad guys who speak in Sanskrit, a master Pilgrim who knows the Ways of Old, and plenty of shock waves careening through the sky when things get blown up. I'm not saying it's not a great Saturday afternoon matinee (it will certainly keep you delightfully occupied if it's raining out), but eventually the moviegoing public will want to have something beyond a pale imitation of "Top Gun," "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Empire Strikes Back" to call home. Fortunately, May 19 looms on the horizon.
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