Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros and now Wing Commander. Will this game-to-movie madness ever end? Probably not - in fact, given the continuing popularity of pixellated action-babe Lara Croft, things are only going to get madder.
Still, at least Wing Commander is directed and written by the very man who developed the space-blasting original, which is good, right? Actually, no. Wing Commander looks like a computer game and everything about it is of computer-game standard: the acting, the story, the dialogue...
To put it bluntly, creator Chris Roberts should never have given up the day job. He may have set out to turn his successful shoot-'em-up into a testosterone-fuelled sci-fi war flick, but the result is simply bland. The fight sequences are sporadic, and when they do occur, they hardly ignite the screen. Visually unsatisfying spaceships engage in pseudo-Star Wars dogfights while the pilots shout "Bogey!" at each other lots. The effects themselves are saggy and the `scary' baddie aliens look like giant, lumbering fibreglass cats.
The rest of the, ahem, action takes place in dingy spaceship interiors where the troops shuffle about in tight sweaters and silly felt hats. The jargon-laden script squeezes in a few intriguing references to a godlike race called The Pilgrims, but this turns out to be just a cheap plot device: "Hey Blair - you're half-Pilgrim! The Pilgrims can navigate through space without supercomputers. I think I see a way out of this..."
Wing Commander does, of course, have a cult following, and its most devoted fans will probably forgive the Thunderbirds acting and plot simply because they've been given a chance to see their favourite PC game on a multiplex screen. Then again, most people tend to skip the demo and get on with playing the game.