Loosely based on the space flight simulator game franchise, this is a rare case where the creator of these games, Chris Roberts, actually took the helm in directing the film. This sounds like a rather promising notion - a video game movie in its original creator's hands. That is until you realize just how loaded with cliche this is, along with the now somewhat dated team-up of Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard. For the younger ones, these two were a fast-burning "it" team-up for a few titles between 1999-2001, including this, 'She's All That', the first couple of live-action 'Scooby-Doo' films, and 'Summer Catch'.
From the way it all unfolds, things get very predictable, and it takes from quite a few sources that seem to mainly include 'Top Gun' and 'Star Wars'. However, to Roberts' credit, I will cut him a bit of slack considering this remains the only movie he's actually ever directed. Anything else under his name pretty much includes games, and being producer on a few little more under-the-radar titles - the most famous probably being 2004's 'Punisher'. With that in mind, I don't think this movie is as absolutely terrible as everyone claims it to be. It's just not good, or something I care to revisit at all. This is a good example of a movie that's just kind of "there". It exists and I simply don't care about it either way.
Taking place in 2654, the Terran Confederation is at war with a race of cat-like beings (totally missing their fur and looking like low budget Muppets) called the Kilrathi. Said beings want to destroy the Human race because... reasons. They attack a Confederation base, and retrieve a navigation computer that will lead them to Earth so they can attempt to fulfil their "mission". To make a long and unnecessary story short, this eventually leads to the recruitment of Lieutenants Christopher Blair (Prinze Jr.) and Todd Marshall (Matthew Lillard); a couple of pilots straight out of training. The film pretty much focuses on their respective cliches, Blair being the serious ace pilot and Marshall being the loose cannon and it's basically a lot of filler leading up to the extremely simple final battle between the Confederation and the Kilrathi.
I realize I may not have done this film's plot justice in my description, but in all honesty, it's just a movie not worth anyone's time or effort. I know I said I don't find it as terrible as anyone else does, and I stick by that. This wasn't something that necessarily bothered me in any way. The simple matter was that I just didn't care about it either way. If it didn't exist, I wouldn't say "You know what we need? A 'Wing Commander' movie!" That said, it tried, it failed, and the director hasn't attempted anything since. You've got to hand it to the guy - not for giving up, but for sticking to what he's good at, and that's creating this game series in the first place. I never got into it, myself, but it's a name that I recognize as something famous (at least for the time).
So, I don't have much else to say about this one. It exists, it's totally forgettable, and I have bittersweet feelings towards it. This isn't a guilty pleasure, like 'Street Fighter', adaptation-wise I don't totally know how well it did (save for knowing about the design of the Kilrathi race), it's not bad enough to say it's absolute garbage, but there's nothing standing out as good in any way either. As I said, this movie just sort of exists and that's the end of it. Of the bigger names in video game movies, this is the equivalent of the plain donut in the so far established 6-pack. It's going to be the last one anyone pays any attention to, no one craves it, and if it ended up in the garbage no one would really care.