By Owen Gleiberman
March 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
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It may, by now, be considered a high compliment to compare an intergalactic combat thriller to a videogame, but I’m not sure it says much if the film in question makes you feel like you’re watching somebody else play. Wing Commander, which has been spun off from a popular computer game, plops us into a ballistic space war in which the enemy soldiers remain a faceless abstraction (at least, until the end, when they’re revealed to be heavily armored versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats), the production design has all the future-shock splendor of a 26th-century airplane hangar, and the dialogue numbs your ear with techno-twaddle and astonishingly lame ”daredevil” sex/flight puns (”If I’m locked on, there’s no such thing as evasive action!”).

Through all of this hokum, the two stars, She’s All That’s Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard (together again!), are encouraged to act like the last two college dorks in America who still fantasize about being Tom Cruise in Top Gun. (How aimless does Lillard look? He’s upstaged by his hair.) Wing Commander is a preposterously dull and labored hack job. It’s enough to make you wonder if the geniuses at Fox deliberately decided to release a movie this lifeless. They may have figured that everyone who showed up to see the new Star Wars trailer would be so bored by the main feature that they’d exit the theater screaming for a science-fiction movie that was actually fun. F

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  • PG-13
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