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Supernova More at IMDbPro »

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113 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

Much better than its reputation has it, but no gem

Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
4 March 2005

A deep space "ambulance" ship receives a distress call from a mining outpost on a rogue moon (it's been removed from its orbit) 3 thousand light years away. Normally, that wouldn't be so unusual, but the distress signal was specifically hailing this particular ship (like calling someone inside an ambulance directly instead of dialing 911) and when the source is revealed, female crew member Kaela Evers (Angela Bassett) realizes that she knows the person who sent it. Worse, it's someone whom she's had an extensive personal history with and whom she considers a walking nightmare. Before she can warn Captain A.J. Marley (Robert Forster), they're in hyper drive on their way to the moon and unwittingly headed into trouble.

This film was plagued with problems--the originally attached director, Geoffrey Wright, quit. The replacement director, Walter Hill, had creative differences with the studio, which demanded re-shoots and new cuts from none other than Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Sholder. Hill ended up requesting that his name be removed, and used the new version of the infamous "Alan Smithee" designation--"Thomas Lee".

And that wasn't the end of it. Upon its release, Supernova received a critical drubbing. Rotten Tomatoes, for example, a website that collates professional and semi-professional reviews on films, showed a 90% negative reading on Supernova. The reaction from everyday viewers mirrored this reception, with mostly negative comments right here on IMDb.

But Supernova isn't that bad of a film. It's no gem, but it does a lot of things right: The premise is certainly stimulating. The transition from a stock, Alien (1979)-like sci-fi film to a thriller in space is well done. The characters are interesting. The suspense level gradually increases until the very end of the film.

There are thoughtful subtexts about giving oneself over to a "feel-good" substance, "survival of the fittest" evolution, and cyclical regeneration. The "fountain of youth" device is intriguing, and even though the "Ninth Dimension" stuff is gobbledy-gook, it's good gobbledy-gook--it makes some sense as fantasy material, and it provides a lot of suspense. There is a subtle social commentary/criticism on attitudes about violence in the media, population problems and eugenics.

A lot of the cast is also good--I like Robert Forster a lot, although unfortunately he disappears from the picture too soon. I'm also a fan of Lou Diamond Phillips, even if his presence more often than not signifies a "C", "D" or lower film. James Spader's characterization of Nick Vanzant is nice and complex. And the rest of the cast is at least decent, even if Peter Facinelli overacts a bit towards the end--but the role calls for that.

However, as a 7, Supernova has its share of problems, too. I don't usually subtract points for a film being clichéd, but it's difficult not to do so in this case. The beginning of the film is right out of Alien--with the ship waking up a crew member unexpectedly, after running some "tests". This is saved a bit by funny dialogue at the end of the scene. The computer, "Sweetie", is reminiscent at times of "Hal" from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The holographic chess game is right out of Star Wars (1977). The distress signal scenario is again out of Alien, and the exploration of the abandoned mine on the rogue moon is similar to Aliens (1986).

The dialogue in the opening of the film is also a bit too jargonistic and quickly delivered for its own good. It can be difficult to get the gist of it without subtitles. There are a number of editing problems, most prominently during the "near miss" of the out of control ship with the moon--shaky cam cinematography doesn't help, either. And for so many directors being involved, the direction, while not incompetent, comes across as primarily "flat".

Is Supernova worth seeing? If you're a huge sci-fi fan (meaning that you watch and like most sci-fi films) and you do not mind familiar material that's slightly clunky at times, yes. There are enough positives to make it worthwhile. Like usual with 7s, the film is best approached with lowered expectations. Given the reputation of this film, that should be no problem.

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84 out of 106 people found the following review useful:

Good movie despite the line noise above.

Author: fraterm from Austin, Texas, USA
28 November 2000

The title may have been a bit misleading... but the movie really did a good job of conveying a mood. The technological picture is well developed strikingly original and interestingly conveyed. Many underlying themes of what happens to humans in the presence of all kinds of environments (psychological, sociological, spatial and otherwise) are touched upon. It is not a mindless drivel action movie which is probably (I know I'm not being very nice...) why so many people really didn't like it. Aside from the ending which was rather humorous and may have left some with a groan, I happened to like it though it was a tad cheesy. This movie really touched on so many things in so many ways that it deserves a much better rating than what it got. The mood conveyed was dark and very horiffic. I would say in a more psychological way than a gut spilling sort of way. The performances of the actors in this film shine, perhaps with the exception of Lou Diamond Phillips, though not to his detriment as he is capable of better work, and his part was really rather small. Tight shots on the crew contrary to earlier comment, really conveyed the emotion of each situation as well as the compressed environment of the ship rather than hiding all of the technological wonders in the set. Sweeties voice being criticized is a non-issue in my opinion, female voices are supposed to (supported by scientific study) command attention better than male-sounding ones. In no way did Sweetie come across as a phone sex operator to me. Quite to the contrary, I submit the scene in which she begs for the additional passphrase from Benjamin in order to be able to save his life. This was one of the most touching scenes I have ever seen in a movie. Between a computer and her Sys Admin there develops love of a kind, really. Marvelous. On par with Event Horizon though somewhat lesser than it for the psychological horiffics, but really different movies with different objectives.

All you people trashing this... Go watch a heartwarming coming of age movie and waste no more of your time trashing this fine piece of work.

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88 out of 117 people found the following review useful:

If they left this movie alone, then it would've been one of the greatest sci-fi movies I've ever seen

Author: Psycho86 ( from Gilbert, AZ
8 June 2002

Supernova is a perfect example of a studio screwing up everything. MGM had their minds on a 'sexy and hip' type movie while director Walter Hill was making a dark, 'logical' sci-fi movie. After the studio screwed with his movie, he took off. The movie was then taken charge by such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, and Jack Sholder (The Hidden). Well to make a long story short, MGM directed this movie, not as they say in the credits, 'Thomas Lee'. The movie ended up being about an entire crew doing nothing but screwing each other (literally), while bad stuff happens around them. That's it.

I highly recommend everybody who has seen this movie to check out the DVD. There they can see all the deleted scenes that the studio cut out. Check them out, then you think about it. Would you like to have seen the type of movie portrayed in the deleted scenes, or in the current turd that was released to the entire world? IMHO, I'd like to see the movie in the deleted scenes. Let's just hope that MGM has learned it's lesson with such flops like this and Rollerball.

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71 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

Supernova is not a film about Supernovas

Author: youfnhobo-1 from London, England
27 February 2004

My physics teacher mistakingly thought that this was a film about Supernovas and showed it to our class. Let's just say that that day in class was a romp.

The movie is probably one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. It's not supposed to be a comedy (well i don't think it is) but it's gonna have you rolling with laughter. Watch it with a large group of friends and do a little Mystery Science Theater type commentary on'll have a blast.

You should see this movie just for the ending. I'd have to say that it's one of the best bad endings of all time.

Everyone in this movie is either talking about sex, having sex, thinking about sex or putting their hands in things and moaning like their having sex. You wouldn't think that sex would be such an integral part space exploration...but then again...what else is there to do?

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33 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Good fun for sci-fi action fans. Not recommended for others

Author: mstomaso from Vulcan
17 July 2005

Supernova is legendary for is production problems and poor critical reception. However, the end result is an entertaining action sci-fi film which fails to live down to its absurdly low expectations and also fails to live up to its very high potential. in other words, it's better than most people say, and nowhere near as good as it should have been.

A rescue ship manned by several paramedics, a hot shot pilot just out of a drug rehab, and emergency personnel, patrols the frontier of human exploration, serving mining colonies, etc, far from earth's solar system. Just as we are learning the personalities in the film, and just as they are starting to become interesting, a distress call is picked up and the ship responds. Enigmatically, the distress call seems to have come from somebody out of the chief medical officer's (Angela Bassett) past, with a lot of problems. "The patient", however, is just the beginning of the mystery, as a strange object with the potential power to destroy the known universe is eventually found.

The first problem with the film is that it bites off much more than it can chew - developing compelling characters, a very interesting, detailed and original plot, excellent special effects and some great sets, but never permitting any of them to grow, expand or become fully realized. The second problem is, I suspect, the fault of studio mismanagement. Rather than contributing to the film, the cinematography and editing are so poor that they, in fact, distract and detract. The production problems - switching directors, mismanagement by the sponsoring studio, inartistic and uninspired re-shooting and re-editing - suggest a couple of simple explanations. There are so many wipes and fades in the second half of the film that I began to wonder whether they were supposed to signify something (such as the passage of time, switching of dimensions, etc) which the audience was not privy to.

Contrary to popular belief, this film had a great deal of potential, however, it would have made a much better TV mini-series or even a premise for a TV series than a cinema release. Why? Because the story and especially the characters needed a lot more time and a lot less editing to develop properly.

The story line can be seen as totally inept or quite brilliant. Though I am no fan of black-box pseudoscience explanations such as "9th dimensional matter", I prefer the 'quite brilliant' interpretation. If you think a lot about what goes on in this film, you can easily link together what seems to be a mess of loose ends and detached subplots and really 'get' what the story is meant to convey. Facinelli's character can be seen as a guardian or simply a power-addict; Spader's former drug addiction can make his attempt at heroism seem a resolution of his inner demons; his relationship with Bassett can be seen as the resolution of the entire set of problems the film poses. However, realizing all of this requires more though and energy than the film itself suggests, and depicting it so that it could have been easily deciphered by the audience would have required at least a few more hours than the film was allowed.

The acting is actually quite good. Angela Bassett is, as usual, excellent, and Peter Facinelli and Wilson Cruz are both worth watching. James Spader's often maligned performance is perfect for the character he is playing - a former drug addict on a quest for redemption. I generally do not like Spader's work very much (there are already too many Clint Eastwood and Robert Downey types in the acting world today), but I do respect his talent. It is unfortunate that the characters were not permitted to develop as they should have, and though the reasons why are almost certainly the lack of decisive directorial control and the studio's post-production mistreatment of the film, this does not excuse Walter Hill from partial responsibility. Hill, after all, used some of the same signature structural plot devices in the over-rated Aliens and the weak but under-rated Alien3 - both of which were better films. the problem with the direction here is, predictably, simply one of consistency. Two to three directors and who knows how many editing and post-production teams simply can not make a perfectly coherent artistic vision.

Simply put, if you're into Sci-Fi, and don't mind films which favor the "fi" part of the phrase over the "sci", then you might just find yourself quite entertained. If you're no a sci-fi fan and you like action films, you might make it through Supernova. But, if you're not a sci-fi fan and your looking for something important, artistic and thoughtful, you should avoid this film like the plague.

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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

I don't know why people harp on this movie

Author: nzavaglia from BC, Canada
27 January 2003

It's not the greatest movie ever, no doubt. But it's not bad. As far as Science Fiction movies go, this is definitely one of the better ones, maybe the best in recent memory. It's science was dead on, having a NASA employee as a technical adviser certainly shows. As for the story, it's not out of the realm of science fiction, which is no more and no less than can really be expected. It keeps it's pace well and doesn't slow down to wax philosophic like a cheesy 50's Sci-Fi would have done. The plot progresses logically and doesn't tend to jump around (a thing that I HATE in a movie). It kept me entertained, which is more than I can say for a lot of movies today.

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50 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Big Bomb, Much Like An Actual Supernova

Author: DalKhan
20 September 2003

Supernova was the beginning of the Downfall for Lou Diamond Phillips if you ask me. Anyway, the movie is about a traveling hospital rescue spaceship, that moves about the cosmos to save stranded vessels and what not. They come across a distress call, and zip off in some sort of warp travel.

After arriving there they come across a stranded miner and some strange material, that turns out to be pieces of the 5th dimension. And then the movie finally collapses under its own stupidity.

Mediocre acting, nice special effects, REALLY stupid plot, all create a nice mixture to cause minor insanity in the viewer. Some people even lose all conscious memory of having ever seen this movie, confusing it with Red Planet or some other such film.

In other words, Run!

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Not as bad as you've heard

Author: the narrator from sydney, australia
23 September 2000

This wasn't too bad, to be honest, I liked it. I went in, expecting it to be terrible, but I walked out surprised. It starts off like any sci-fi movie would, the opening shot being a huge spaceship zooming into our view. This shot still looks good even though it has been done too many times. This pretty much sums up the whole film. I can see why people hated this movie, because of the acting (Lou Diamond Phillips!) and the script and the terrible dialogue, but it was so spectacular and the special effects were excellent. The movie's plot was a bit of a mixture of Event Horizon and Dead Calm. The action scenes weren't that great, and the whole guy with healing powers thing wasn't great. Overall, I'd say it's worth the ticket price for sci-fi fans who are bored. 6/10.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Failed Science Fiction Thriller isn't as bad what critics said it was.

Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
11 September 2008

In the 22th century... an medical space vessel received an distress call from a supposedly abandoned planet. The Captain (Robert Forster) and his crew (James Spader, Angela Bassett, Lou Diamond Philips, Robin Tunney & Wilson Cruz) decides to take the mission as a search and rescue. When their captain died accidentally from the dimensional jump in space. Now it is up to the crew to do their mission but once they rescue the mysterious stranger (Peter Facinelli). This man isn't what he seems to be and he might danger the entire crew from getting home.

Directed by Thomas Lee, which is actually action filmmaker Walter Hill (48 Hrs, Last Man Standing, Trespass) made an interesting if failed science-fiction thriller that has an intriguing premise. Production Designs and Terrific Special Effects are the highlights of this odd sci-fi tale. The cast do their best with this wildly uneven material. There was so much problems making this picture that director Hill disowned the film after MGM edited their version. When the studio had problems, they hired B-Movie Filmmaker Jack Sholder (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2:Freddy's Revenge, Alone in the Dark, The Hidden) do to the re-shoots and then three-time Oscar-Winner:Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Trilogy, Apocalyspe Now, Garden of Stones) edited an version for the studio but nothing worked. Since the studio originally hired filmmaker Geoffery Wright (Cherry Falls, Romper Stomper) to make the movie but he quit before production begins.

The DVD is the Unrated Version of this picture. DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer (Also in Pan & Scan) and an strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD also includes an collector's booklet, deleted scenes ("Life Form Found" is a fascinating deleted scene that should have been in the final cut, which it would explain the film's logic better), stronger alternative ending and the original theatrical trailer. "Supernova" is a failed Big Budget movie but it does has some great ideas that never really comes to life. Fans of Science Fiction films will be more forgiving than others. "Supernova" is certainly an oddball curio that is worth a look. William Malone (Creature, Feardotcom, House on Haunted Hill "1999") received an Co-Story Credit. Super 35. (*** 1/2 out of *****).

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Awful, there's no other way to put it.

Author: jiangliqings
27 May 2001

* out of **** (review of R-rated version)

In case you never noticed, there was a glut of science fiction films released in the year 2000 (kind of like the outburst of horror films the year before that) and the first one released was Supernova, and it's arguably one of the worst. At least Battlefield Earth provided a barrage of unintentional laughs. Supernova features hackneyed writing, mostly uninspired acting, as well as choppy and mishandled direction, all at the hands of Mr. Thomas Lee (AKA Walter Hill), which now seems to be the new choice of pseudonyms for directors ashamed of their work.

Supernova begins in a strange enough manner. There's an opening shot of outer space without the usual opening credits or title sequence. We are introduced to the Nightengale, a search and rescue medical vessel led by Captain A.J. Marley (Robert Forster). The rest of the crew are co-pilot Nick Vanzant (James Spader), medical technician Kaela Evers (Angela Bassett), and three other crew members who are obviously easily dispensable.

The ship receives an S.O.S. signal coming from an abandoned mine.Through a method of travel known as the interdimensional jump, the crew arrives at this abandoned mine, and they pick up a stranger named Karl Larson (Peter Facinelli). X-rays show he has some sort of strange bone growth, which could be due to contact he had with an extraterrestrial object he brought along. According to the computers, the object (which is pink and resembles a giant glowing egg) is capable of destroying all matter and creating new life as well.

Larson eventually reveals his true colors and begins to eliminate the crew one-by-one, as well as stranding Nick on the mine. It becomes a game of cat-and-mouse as Nick and Kaela do battle with Larson, whose contact with the alien artifact has now made him seemingly invincible.

You might notice I didn't mention anything about a supernova. Well, that's because nothing of the sort comes into fruition until the last 5 minutes, and even then it's only a minor plot device used to generate some false tension. As for the rest of the movie, does this thriller ever generate any suspense? Nada. There are a couple of cheap thrills at the end, but this is hardly the tense and scary film I'm sure director Hill had in mind.

From the stories I've read, Hill's version was butchered, cut by over a half-hour because MGM preferred a sexy space adventure over his idea of a sci-fi thriller. Well, I'm not exactly sure what MGM had in mind, but Supernova is far from sexy, featuring several scenes of bare breasts (mostly Robin Tunney's) and a couple of zero-g sex scenes that are painful to watch. Heck, you'll get far, far more outer space sexual titillation (cheap as it still is) from the straight-to-video movie Alien Files.

What the end result of all the studio cuts is a film that I still don't believe would have had a chance for critical and commercial success even if all the cut material was inserted back. Of the 91 or so minutes I viewed I can't possibly see an extra 30 minutes improving it by a whole lot. The version I saw was the R-rated video release that only adds in a few more scenes of bare breasts. Trust me, you wouldn't be missing much if you saw this movie in theaters. I'm surprised the studio didn't just end the whole production when things began to go all wrong.

How did it all go wrong? Let me begin with the direction. Walter Hill must have felt obligated to direct in Blair Witch fashion, because a good portion of the movie is shot with shaky camera movements. This is acceptable during the action scenes, but he even does this during normal conversations. Simultaneously, he also shoots much of the film in a tilted angle, similar to what we saw in Battlefield Earth. The combination of these two elements serve only to create headaches.

The script is also to blame. Written by William Malone and Daniel Chuba, Supernova doesn't make a very interesting small-scale film. The idea of an extraterrestrial object capable of destroying the solar system is more fitting for a larger scale film, but the writers seemed to be satisfied placing it within a story that is Alien-lite. The plot holes are also apparent. Think about this, there's a six person crew aboard the Nightengale and they have six chambers for the interdimensional jump. They're a rescue vessel; exactly how do they bring back survivors? They certainly don't share the chambers (as explained in the film, since they have to get nude to go inside and there's the possibility genetic material could be fused together). There's a moment when a Nick mentions that only five of the six chambers work, but the computer later states that there are seven total chambers. Hmm, seems like even the writers can't count.

There are three decent performances. James Spader, looking and sounding a lot like Jeff Goldblum, is pretty good as the buff hero. Angela Bassett exerts the most energy and seems to look involved. Robert Forster is also decent in the scenes he appears in. Lou Diamond Phillips, Robin Tunney, and Wilson Cruz are mostly forgettable. Phillips is there to go crazy (a la Sam Neill in Event Horizon though not to nearly as memorable an effect), Tunney is just eye candy since all she does is bare her breasts, and Cruz definitely shows that the Star Trek "expendable crew member syndrome" is very much still alive and kicking. This guy pretty much has "dead man" tatooed on his forehead the moment we see him. Peter Facinelli is easily the worst. Part of how effective the movie is requires we be scared of him. Not only is his acting bad, but he looks like a cross between Tom Cruise, Chris O'Donnell, and Matthew McConnaughey. Tell me, is that scary? (Perhaps, but certainly not in the manner the film makers intended)

The visuals don't add up to a lot, either. Though the outer space shots are pretty-looking, the spaceship design is far too obvious a special effect and everything else inside the ship is fairly standard looking. There aren't any particularly memorable effects in this film. Even the explosion at the end doesn't create much visual spectacle.

All these problems could be somewhat forgiveable if Hill could have only injected some tension and adrenaline into the proceedings. For a movie that aims to thrill the audience, it's a dull festival. The pace drags and all attemtps to create excitement fall flat. A few weeks after this film's release, Pitch Black arrived in theaters, which is everything this movie is not: thrilling, well-acted and directed, and some amazing visuals with a script that knows how to twist the plot into something unpredictable.

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