Gerry Anderson, it could be argued, was one of the first producers of science fiction to see what a tremendous role hardware design, such as spaceships, could play. In virtually all his television series and movies, design has been crucial (more often than not, to the detriment of character development). In fact, the Eagle from Space: 1999, arguably a space craft as iconic as Star Trek’s Enterprise, lead directly to designs like the Millennium Falcon, from Star Wars (George Lucas was known to have been directly inspired, in a visual sense, by Space: 1999).
In fact, Brian Johnson, who handled special effects on movies like The Empire Strikes Back (among many others) cut his teeth on Anderson productions.
I bring up spaceship design because Chris Roberts‘ 1999 movie Wing Commander is a movie that, on the whole, had designs that appeared more functional than iconic, a fact that wouldn’t endear the movie to tech-heads. In fact, the design of the spaceships are remarkably similar to those of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon, that came two years earlier (I assume that the same FX houses worked on both features).
Despite being, in terms of spaceship design being somewhat uninspired, it had actors like David Sushet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Tchéky Kayro, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, Freddie Prince, Jr. and Matthew Lillard, which is why its box office failure is so perplexing to me.
In fact, despite the aforementioned failure, the movie is unintentionally prophetic in that it plays like a young adult novel (by no means an insult. Some of the best books I have ever read, such as John Christopher’s The White Mountains trilogy, were young adult novels) instead of being based on a video game.
That being the case, for a reboot I would commission more iconic spaceship designs, but that’s about it. The movie does so much right that I can only think that its problem during its original release was one of timing.