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Rated PG-13
Copyright 1999 No Prisoners Productions and Digital Anvil
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 14 May 2002

The Characters:  

  • Lt. Blair - Freddie Prinze Jr.! Idealistic young pilot who is fresh from the Academy and still wet behind the ears.
  • Lt. "Maniac" Marshall - Matthew Lillard! From what we see he is more dangerous to other humans, vice being any major threat to the Kilrathi. One wild and crazy guy, he is that.
  • LtCmdr Devereaux - Saffron Burrows! She needs to study the fraternization policy. The CO sleeping with a pilot is not helping to foster an atmosphere of fair and equal treatment, despite the sexy English accent.
  • Commodore "Paladin" Taggart - A flag officer in the naval intelligence branch, his rank is kept secret for no obvious reason.
  • Lt. Rosie Forbes - For a squadron leader she sure thinks with her crotch a lot. Vacuum packed.
  • Admiral Tolwyn - David Warner! As Fleet Admiral, his job is to look pensive, yet resolute. He does a good job.
  • Cmdr Gerald - Jürgen Prochnow! Incompetent and bigoted Executive Officer of the Tiger Claw.
  • The Kilrathi - Rather than deadly bipedal felines, these cats appear to have evolved on a slime planet where the laws of natural selection do not apply. Many of them use up all nine lives.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

I usually refrain from personally attacking people responsible for movies that I dislike, but exceptions are bound to be made. This... ...this... ...thing, pisses me off. Kevin Droney, the screenwriter responsible for what transpires, has no business writing science fiction. You (I'm talking to you personally, Kevin) resorted to clichés, do not understand science fiction, and do not respect the genre. Want to read a novel with inventive ideas? Try The Realty Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton; heck, play "Wing Commander III." Refrain from any more writing with scifi elements, for both of our sakes.

The year is 2654; Humanity and the Kilrathi are engaged in a brutal interstellar war. Key to this sort of war is defending the home worlds, replete with their massive manufacturing abilities and population centers. Neither we, nor the savage aliens, know where the other's point of genesis lies among the countless stars. The situation changes dramatically when the main Kilrathi fleet attacks a Confederation naval base and, due to a sabotaged or malfunctioning self-destruct mechanism, captures a Pegasus navigation computer. With it, the feline reavers can reach our solar system a full two hours before the Confederate fleet.

Now for the problems that arise out of our beginning. First off, the Kilrathi do not make full speed for Earth. In fact, for a warrior race, they commit so many tactical and strategic errors in the movie's course as to apparently suffer from genetic retardation. I could really go with that explanation if they were not capable of building advanced starships. Second, the Kilrathi boarders march through a hail of fire put up by cringing members of the naval station's crew. One of my problems with Starship Troopers is the woefully under powered assault rifles; that seems to apply here as well. Along those same lines, where are the Marines? (More on that in a bit.)

Admiral Tolwyn decides that the last ship left in the sector, a carrier christened the Tiger Claw, must gather intelligence on the Kilrathi fleet. The only precipitous method of delivering these orders to the carrier is transmitting them to the Diligent, a supply freighter crewed by Lt. Blair, Maniac, and Taggart. The rookies are leaving Earth to serve as replacement pilots aboard the Tiger Claw.

Here the idiotic "Pilgrim" subplot is introduced in full. The Pilgrims were a breed apart from normal humanity who possessed fantastic mental abilities enabling them to use a jump point by instinct. At some point the gulf in societies caused a civil war between the Confederation and Pilgrims. The intuitive explorers lost; now anyone with Pilgrim genealogy is socially discriminated against. What could have been an interesting idea is wasted on cheap plot advancement and establishing Blair (he is half Pilgrim) as an underdog.

Myriad problems! If Tolwyn can beam instructions to the Diligent, in Earth space, in short order, why is the fleet nearly two days away? Do not use "that is how it works" either. Unless I am incorrect, in the game communication was also accomplished via jump points. Send a message drone through, maybe beam the signal through directly, something that required a bit of thought to establish. Plus, if a Pilgrim could plot a course through a jump point, uncharted or not, they would be highly sought after in the Confederate Navy. Don't like how I'm picking this apart? Well, I'm sorry for thinking.

Once aboard the Tiger Claw, Blair wastes no time in making his Commander, Devereaux, very angry. The standard human fighter is called the Rapier and, like the American Wildcats of World War II, it is outclassed by the Dralthi (Zero). The rookie gets his butt chewed for not knowing about the future version of the Thach Weave. The fighters have gatling gun lasers (huh?), while the capital ships lack any sort of point defense system besides their shield generators. Futuristic Phalanx guns? Nope. Advanced interceptor missiles? Uh, don't have any of those either.

Blair also screws up by asking about another pilot killed in combat. Stupid point number... ...which one are we on now? The personnel of the Tiger Claw refuse to speak about their fallen comrades; instead, those lost are said to have "never existed." It is emotionally unhealthy to begin with, but more damning in being totally devoid of any experience with military service. Visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC and look over the notes, flags, and pictures left there. Stay for a while and watch veterans touch the chiseled names of friends long departed, grown men crying in public. To deny someone ever existed is rude, immoral, and inhuman; never mind that Blair eventually changes the behavior, the idea PISSES ME OFF.

The Tiger Claw sets up near the Kilrathi rally point and soon discovers the location of their opponent's command and control ship. Taggart argues against staging an attack; doing so will leave the carrier vulnerable to an ambush. Honestly, the Kilrathi's main strategy should be reaching Earth with as many ships, quickly as possible. The Tiger Claw ought to be attempting to stall the enemy fleet for as long as possible. Any more than two hours is golden. Destroying or crippling the Kilrathi command and control ship sounds like a great idea. Mining the jump point sounds even better, but thinking outside the box will not help you here.

Taggart was correct about the ambush, of course; he returns with the squadron just in time to save the carrier from annihilation. Unfortunately, due to irresponsible hot-dogging by Maniac, Rosie's ship crashes onto the deck outside the airlock. Despite not knowing if the pilot survived, Devereaux orders it pushed off the deck. Why? Pushing it inside the airscreen (a forcefield that keeps atmosphere in) would be just as easy. And another thing: why does it fall "down" once pushed off the deck? Shouldn't it drift away? Or, if the deck is magnetic, why does it not stick to the side of the ship, thereby still offering the chance of rescue?

Badly damaged and low on fuel, the Tiger Claw hides in a dark crater on an asteroid while a Kilrathi destroyer bombs the area. In this segment the movie rips off both George Lucas and every WWII submarine movie ever made. The latter group of movies right down to the sonar pings (how in the heck?) and everyone looking at the ceiling.

One of the problems I had with "Space: Above and Beyond" was the dual role played by the main characters. In one episode they were pilots, while the next week saw them performing duties expected of Marines (establishing beachheads, ground combat) or SEALS (covert demolition, infiltration). The malfunction is "combined arms." That means that while the ground forces are doing their best to get ashore (planetside) and make a beachhead the pilots are bombing or strafing where needed. Anyway, Blair and some others sneak up on the kitties' command ship and, after taking control of the vessel, steal both fuel and recover the Pegasus NavCom. They now know precisely where the Kilrathi will jump into mankind's home solar system.

Devereaux and her new honey take off in fighters to warn Earth. Her fighter is disabled when she shoots down a skipper missile that was targeted on the Tiger Claw, leaving our lead pretty boy to manage the jump point on his own. Why can a light fighter use a jump point? Traditionally, fighters are all armament and engine and not intended for long range. The chance to actually use Blair's Pilgrim heritage is passed by here; if a fighter was the only way to get through and they could not be equipped with jump computers (or engines), then someone with a pedigree in doing it by feel is perfect. Instead I listened to the computer berating Blair about his jump coordinates.

You are not finished, there are more thrashings to come. From the amount of beating sustained, one would think that you, I, and everyone else who had seen this movie was a redheaded stepchild. Okay, I'll get to the point: a Snakeir (Kilrathi carrier) followed Blair's fighter through the jump point and starts chasing him. He leads it into a singularity, thus dispatching the troublesome ship. WHAT? The Snakeir, a king among warships, is unable to recognize the baby black hole (or whatever its supposed to be)? They even try to explain this off by having the Kilrathi mistake the singularity's beacon for the Confederate fleet. No good either; it would have stopped chasing Prinze and launched every fighter and bomber available.

None of the performances could be called borderline, but, when the script is this awful, remarking on the acting and direction is nigh impossible.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Critical self-destruct mechanisms should have backups.
  • There is a pulsar, black hole, quasar (that would be a surprise), or similar gravity distortion very close to Earth.
  • Speeding near a black hole is a big no-no!
  • How to win friends and influence people: scotch.
  • Command and control ships are used as picket craft for fleets.
  • Concussion waves only spread out on a horizontal axis.
  • Jumping into an area controlled by the enemy fleet should be carefully planned.
  • When you need one, a medic is nowhere to be found. We do suggest calling for the Navy equivalent, a corpsman, when aboard ship. That usually works better.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Thanks to this montage and audio overlay, I fully comprehend the basic plot.
  • 14 mins - A backup system would have been on my list of option packages.
  • 17 mins - Minidisc!
  • 22 mins - Was that a water meter on the wall?
  • 23 mins - T O W L Y N...
  • 34 mins - Devereaux takes care of the situation by herself? Is the Air Boss asleep or something?
  • 40 mins - The explosion scattered pieces of the naval station faster than starships could travel; impressive.
  • 64 mins - The decoy appearing to be a much larger ship should make the Kilrathi's job easier. You want it to look exactly like the Tiger Claw, yah bunch of morons!
  • 78 mins - When did Blair lose his?
  • 91 mins - Fuel supply exhausted, he can only watch helplessly as his ship is drawn into the cosmic cataclysm. Hooray!
  • 92 mins - Stupid movie.


  • Devereaux: "We've secured the fuel cells."
    Blair: "We've got more than that, Angel; we have the Kilrathi jump coordinates."
    Devereaux: "Marines, move out."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note wingcmdr1.wav Forbes: "You got balls."
Maniac: "You should see 'em."
Forbes: "Mine are bigger."
Maniac: "I've been told size doesn't matter."
Forbes: "She lied."
Green Music Note wingcmdr2.wav Devereaux: "In all likelihood you're going to die out here. We're all going to die out here, but none of us needs to be reminded of that fact. So, you die, you never existed."
Green Music Note wingcmdr3.wav Gerald: "No one's jumped a pulsar for forty years and even then they were Pilgrims."
Green Music Note wingcmdr4.wav Devereaux: "You disobey my order and I'll have you court-martialed."
Blair: "Like I care!"
Devereaux: "Then care about the billions who will die if the fleet doesn't get the jump coordinates."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipwingcmdr1.mpg - 2.9m
The movie consistently portrayed space combat at very close ranges. If two passenger aircraft passed this close to each other the FAA would want a full investigation, but here the Kilrathi cruiser is nearly on top of the Tiger Claw, allowing the humans to launch a blind fusillade.

By the way, did flames shoot out around that torpedo hatch door? Are the seals bad?

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