Supernova (2000) Poster

(I) (2000)

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Much better than its reputation has it, but no gem
Brandt Sponseller4 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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Good movie despite the line noise above.
fraterm28 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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I don't know why people harp on this movie
nzavaglia27 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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If they left this movie alone, then it would've been one of the greatest sci-fi movies I've ever seen
Psycho868 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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Failed Science Fiction Thriller isn't as bad what critics said it was.
Lucien Lessard11 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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Good fun for sci-fi action fans. Not recommended for others
mstomaso17 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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Supernova is not a film about Supernovas
youfnhobo-127 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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A study in how studios screw up movies....
JoeB1319 January 2008
I saw this in the theater when it came out in 2000. at that time, the studio obviously knew it had a stink bomb on its hands, and released it without showing it to the critics first.

The plot line is that a medical ship responds to a distress call from an abandoned mining colony on a rogue moon that is about to fall into a supernova. Okay, works well enough. For some reason, the ship barely has enough working life-tubes to protect the entire crew from a hyperspace jump (which begs the question, how would they ever get patients back to where they are going.)

After killing their captain, played by veteran actor Robert Forster, the recovering drug addict pilot played by James Spader takes over. After some needless sex scenes between Spader and a perpetually angry looking Angela Bassett, and even more needless sex scenes between Robin Tunny and Lou Diamond Philips, they rescue the lone survivor of a team that was scavenging the moon. Yes, this ship has zero gravity rooms on the sides that seem to provide no other function than giving characters a place to have sex in zero gravity.

We discover that this survivor has found an alien artifact that looks like a giant sex toy, and is apparently the casing for a ninth-dimensional matter designed to destroy our universe. Meanwhile, it grants super powers to the survivor, who proceeds to go into Jason Vorhees mode and kill the rest of the crew.

Now, if you watch the deleted scenes on the DVD, you can see that the writer/director had a very different film in mind. Probably a "director's" cut would make a little more sense, but not much. It has a lot of science fiction conventions (like the life tubes and a huge ship with a small crew) that make little or no sense. It also contains clichés like a malfunctioning android and a computer with a quirky personality, which are more annoying than helpful.

The worst, of course, is the acting. One can only conclude that the actors realized fairly early on that this was going to be crap, and started phoning it in. Bassett is the worst of the lot, and I've seen her put in better performances in much cheaper movies.

Even the trailer is instructive, as it tried to almost portray the movie as a light comedy which it clearly wasn't, scoring it with music that didn't belong in the film...

Perhaps when they do the director's cut, they will explain how bad they screwed it up...
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Big Bomb, Much Like An Actual Supernova
DalKhan20 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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Recycled Space Junk
savagesteve1324 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I give it a 3 only because the actors at least did what they could with the material, and they did bother to work out and at least not look stupid AND fat in space. The premise is a medical rescue ship that apparently has only one doctor on it (Bassett) who just happens to be a super computer and space dimensional scientist too. You find this out later when Bassett is talking 9th dimensional Star Trek mumbo jumbo with the computer Sweetie. Spader is out of his element here. He does freaky movies well, but this is run of the mill star trekkin complete with scientific gobbledygook which he is unaccustomed to spewing. The plot is simple, murderous weirdo with a bomb in space. Done about 1000 times before, but now done 1001 blue! Yes EVERYTHING is blue. We get it already, its a blue giant! I don't think I saw any other color other than a flash of red on a control panel and some purple in that 9th dimensional alien suppository. I didn't understand why that guy got into a busted pod and ended up inside out, I didn't understand why the so-called "rescue" ship people are so incompetent they nearly kill themselves trying to rescue others because they don't know how to calculate a jump, and I don't know why Lou Diamond Phillips is in it. Okay, so lately he's not getting many roles, but Lou Diamond Phillips? I was expecting him to pull out a guitar anytime and play some La Bamba. Poor Robin Tunney, cute as a button, body so hard you can bounce a quarter off her breasts, and of course destined to not make it completely through the film. What is it about sci fi and the obsession with airlocks? Watch the movie you will know what I mean. Angela Bassett is as always a bad bad actress. She plays the same sexually frustrated angry black woman she always plays. Just have sex with hunky Spader already and relax a bit. Heck I would and I'm a guy (not in a gay way, I just respect Spader for his hunkiness). Facinelli makes a terrible space psychopath, not good for his career since the easiest role any actor can play is murderous psychopath. In the end I just wanted my rental money and 1.5 hours of my life back, but I won't get it. Luckily no brain cells were harmed during viewing of this film for which I am thankful.
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This May Be The Most Boring Science Fiction Movie I've Ever Seen!
sddavis6322 November 2012
Seriously. One word describes this - boring. Actually two words might describe it more effectively - painfully boring. The adverb may be necessary to capture the dismal nature of this film. The story is silly, the script is weak, the character development is non-existent and the performance are largely uninspired. When I sat down to write a review of this I was thinking I would give it two stars. But then I started thinking - and I realized that I didn't have a single good thing to say about it.

Such as it is, the story is about a sort of medical spaceship named the Nightingale set some time in the future (if the time period was mentioned I missed it.) After the Nightingale receives a mysterious distress signal from over 3000 light years away, the ship's captain (played by Robert Forster) decides to respond. They have to go through something called a "dimension jump" (a way of travelling from one place in the universe to another very quickly) and discover the sender of the message, who has a strange artifact he wants to take back to earth in order to get rich quick.

Painfully boring. Yes. The leads in this are James Spader and Angela Bassett. Both are decent enough actors, but neither could save this, and even their performances were far from their best. It was handy that in order to go through a "dimension jump" everybody has to strip naked. To give credit to those responsible for this, aside from a clear topless shot of Danika (Robin Tunney) and some blurry naked shots of Dr. Evers (Bassett - or, more likely, her double) this aspect of the story wasn't exploited. The ship has a rather strange robot dressed as a World War I fighter pilot because the captain is a history buff and a talking computer with a personality - sort of like HAL from "2001" except that this one is a female named "Sweetie" (please) and it's fallen in love with crewman Benj (Wilson Cruz.) I said that I couldn't think of anything good to say about this. Actually that's not true. It's less than an hour and a half in length. Someone took mercy on those - like me - who would choose to watch this. (1/10)
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I Give Supernova a 'Meh' out of 'Whatever'
alanmayer8528 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I find the lone ship stranded in space routine to be a plot device too often used upon. I also find that, after one finds out they have 17 hours to fix something or they die, having sex in zero g, while that may be enjoyable, doesn't really solve things. So these are small potatoes, I realize that. But what really puts this movie into my list of "Possible Reasons to Go On Murderous Rampage" is that nothing that goes on in the movie seems to resonate with the entire crew. This I chalk up to Walter Hill saying adiós due to creative differences, leaving the studio execs and outside help (Coppola apparently has nothing to do on a Saturday than edit something he has absolutely no interest in doing) to try and piece together something that probably looked really cool written down. The end result is a bunch of really good actors who look bad in space. Not to mention, it's the really bad kind of space.

If you haven't seen the movie, SURPRISE: there's a supernova in it! Well, it's a bit surprising to me, because they mention it, something about a degrading orbit, +17 hours till everyone is incinerated, yada yada, and that's about it. Not joking, that's the attitude everyone has towards this but Lou Diamond Phillips, who decides he'd rather go hang out with the weird alien 9th dimensional yadayada. Robin Tunney can't stop thinking about sex, so she's kind of turned on by the new guy (Peter Facinelli), till he kills her. There's this other problem where James Spader is sabotaged by the New Guy. Turns out the New Guy is the Old Guy, Karl Larsen, the one they thought they were coming for in the first place. So New Guy kills everyone except for Angela Bassett, who he tries to convince this 9th dimensional stuff is the bee's knees. He's forgotten one thing, though, and that is the inevitability of a Plot Hole re-materializing as Deus Ex Machina; James Spader found a rescue shuttle (how New Guy doesn't see this coming, who knows) and the two battle. Well, not really battle. Spader gets tossed around a bunch, Spader lops New Guy's hand off, Spader tries to lock up New Guy, New Guy escapes, rejoins his hand (makes sense, right? 9th dimensional schtuff is better than super-glue) and then dies because he's an idiot. Spader and Bassett leave the galaxy by a space-hair and accidentally melded part of their DNA code, giving Bassett a baby and Happy the end. There, I saved you a lot of time. I made a mistake in not following general consensus on this one being really bad, and now I've told you how ridiculous this movie is. Gosh, I almost forgot to mention, ROBERT FORSTER's in this movie! Well, he knew it was gonna be a bust, so he gets out of the movie before things go to pot. I've heard a lot of people say this movie isn't that bad, but that's I suppose in comparison to night terrors and muggings. No, this is not the worst movie in the world, but does that mean it should be excused? Why should you see it, when you can watch something as bad as AVP and be 10 more times as entertained than watching Supernova. Supernova is a film that had been given up on by its makers, by people who wanted to do right, but inevitably gave it the Hudson reply of "That's it man. Game Over, man. Game Over."
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A better film on DVD
lucky 1319 May 2002
Like some movies that are released, I wanted to see it but had no desire to go to the movies to see it; so I waited for "Supernova" to hit the rental phase. As I viewed the DVD, I was impressed with the performances by Angella Bassett and James Spader, and thought the story was unique. However, certain aspects of the film just seemed typical, like the ending: pure Hollywood garbage. Then I watched the bonus section of the DVD, and found the movie that should have been released.

The deleted scene section of the "Supernova" DVD, there is an alternate opening and ending to this film. It is these "alternate" scenes that turned a movie with potential into a film that showed some substance. I will not disclose the theme of these "alternate" scenes, but I add that I will only view this movie watching those un-used scenes.

I give this movie a 6.5 out of 10 for the "theater" opening and ending, and a 8 out of 10 for the "alternate" opening and ending.
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It's a gigantic bomb, all right
Erewhon14 January 2000
This movie underwent a lot of problems while filming; director Walter Hill even removed his name from the finished product. While he can hardly be blamed (the movie is awful), you have to wonder why he signed on to film such a foolish script in the first place.

But then, who can tell what the script was like? As it is, it's an incoherent mess sparked by some good performances. Technically, it's absurd; this, folks, is an ambulance ship. One of the features of any ambulance is the ability to transport patients in order to get better care than the ambulance crew can provide. But this ship only has enough "dimensional pods" for the crew -- so where would patients be placed? Great care is taken to show us that some of the ship rotates to provide "gravity" in the form of centrifugal force. However, the bridge doesn't rotate -- and still has gravity.

Technical goofs like this, however, are very minor compared to a story that is incapable of making a link between the Weird Object that's brought on board, and the transformations the "patient" is undergoing. The story required him to become superhuman, so he does, even though this has nothing to do with the danger the Weird Object represents. (Which is incoherently explained anyway.)

Also, the film has obviously been hacked at in order to get a more "acceptable" rating than R. So most of the fights consist of the bad guy flinging other people around. There are other signs of severe trimming too, not the least of which is that in magazines covering the film, there are photos of a monster that doesn't appear in the finished film at all.

What a mess.
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Needs More Supernova
utgard1422 December 2013
Ridiculous "loud & lazy" sci-fi thriller that makes ample use of Robin Tunney's willingness to disrobe but has little time for things like logic and characterization. The plot is that a search and rescue ship in deep space answers a distress beacon. For their trouble, they get Peter Facinelli. Oversexed, overly derivative mess of a film offers nothing you haven't seen before and better. Hell, just a few years before this was Event Horizon, with a very similar plot but a much better movie. A dark-haired and particularly buff James Spader gives the only performance worth mentioning with a straight face. How about that laugh-inducing ending? You wouldn't think a movie that has the names of both Francis Ford Coppola and Walter Hill attached to it could be this bad but it just goes to show I guess.
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So-so sci-fi.
George Parker22 August 2000
A forgiving aspect of the sci-fi genre is, if your story paints you into a corner all you have to do is paint a door and walk out. In Sci-fi, anything is possible. To the probable dismay of the realists in the audience, "Supernova" takes advantage of this fix as it's weak plot unfolds. The movie has the obligatory sex, action, adventure, suspense, special effects, etc. However, it doesn't equal the sum of its parts and the earnest acting it offers isn't sufficient to get this very forgettable drama over the bar.
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Awful, there's no other way to put it.
jiangliqings27 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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Lapse in Logic
DaveC-1327 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't check to see if another user commented on this, so excuse me if this has already been noted upon. The whole idea is that the characters are on a rescue mission, to see if there are any survivors on a remote base. Their ship travels through space using a form of warp drive which is potentially damaging to them, so they must each enter a protective "cocoon", similar to suspended animation. It is noted there are exactly the same number of cocoons as there are crew members. One character is horribly killed when a cocoon chamber is damaged, and said character is exposed to the warp effect during the trip. When a lone survivor is found at the base, this creates an opportunity - with one crew member deceased, the now-repaired chamber can be used to bring back the survivor. Here's my problem - how did they INTEND to bring back a survivor, much less a group of survivors??!!! They had no extra chambers to bring anyone back!!! They weren't equipped to rescue anyone!!! The movie doesn't dwell on this long enough to let it register, but when this dawned on me I just spent the rest of the movie shaking my head.
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First Latino In Space
bkoganbing12 May 2008
When a film gets held up for release and the directors refuse to take credit for the final product, in fact if there's more than one director that can be taken as a sign that the product is a Thanksgiving delight. When you've got all those these happening as they are in Supernova, you know Thanksgiving is coming early.

The film is a lot like a Doctor Who episode and I kept hoping Tom Baker and a companion would drop in with the TARDIS and straighten everything out. The film did need it.

A medical rescue vessel, a futuristic space ambulance if you will gets a distress call from a mining planet lots of light years away from Earth. Off into hyper drive they go and when there they meet a rather strange young man played by Peter Facinelli who's got a strange kind of element he's found and wanting to take it back to Earth.

He's determined to get it there and when James Spader the captain says no, Facinelli starts killing everyone around him. That element is making him both younger and stronger so those that remain have a fight on their hands.

I happen to meet cast member Wilson Cruz at a conference about seven years ago and he said while he was not exactly thrilled with the final product in Supernova, he said the film was memorable to him because he became the first Latino in space. And the first openly gay man at the same time. He does have the best dialog in the film with a supercomputer along the lines of 2001, A Space Odyssey's HAL. Wilson's computer is called SWEETIE and she has a sultry feminine voice built in.

Supernova will not make anyone's list of the greatest science fiction films ever done. Or even the 10 best in the new 21st century.
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Could have been a sci fi masterpiece....
Neo-2620 February 2001
People who have badmouthed this film totally missed the point. Supernova was a terrific, and (gasp!) an original sci fi movie. It may have been a little cheesy, but wasn't that what made the Star Wars films so great? The story was very well developed and the characters' relationships were constructed almost flawlessly, especially between Benj's and the ship's computer, Sweetie. The bond between the two gave the film a a kind of sweetness and light-heartedness that's rarely seen in a lot of big budget sci fi thrillers these days. The technical aspects of the film have to be seen to be believed. The film has an almost magestical look to it, and some of the shots are just dazzling. How this film was passed up for visual effects in the Oscar race is unbelievable. The only problem I had with the film was the fact that it was so short. It has a running time of only 91 minutes. The DVD features 20 minutes of wonderful footage was that was cut from the final film for reasons I cannot understand. They really fleshed out the characters and added a lot of understanding to the film's story. There's also an "alternate ending" which adds a lot to the film's overall depth, but it makes the movie more of a downer that it already is. But all in all, the movie is great, and if you are looking for something with a great story, nicely developed characters, and amazing visual effects, Supernova is the movie for you. My grade: B+
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dr_foreman22 June 2004
Unbelievably bad sci-fi "thriller" with a curious lack of thrills. This is one of those movies that thinks its audience is really interested in submarine-like sets and cool special effects of space warping instead of proper characterization. The dialog is so technical, and the cutting so confusing, that I had to rely on the music to tell me what was going on.

Truckloads of sex are dumped into the movie in an attempt to make it less sterile than other sci-fi films, but since we don't really know or care about the people involved in these zero gravity hookups, the result is that the movie feels like tacky softcore porn in outer space. Things improve a bit when the villain shows up, but it's a shame that he's played by a petulant brat instead of a proper actor.

Good thing Angela Bassett turned down "Monster's Ball," eh?
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Unexciting Sci-fi that will put you asleep… that is a very deep sleep.
lost-in-limbo10 December 2005
In deep space, the medical vessel Nightingale come across a frantic cry from some unknown charter, but the crew risks it and decides to respond to the call of help. From this some fatal consequences occur. The ship is now stuck as the fuel is low and they rescue a small craft, which has a crafty, mysterious stranger and hidden alien artifact. This stranger hides something about this artifact and crew are now unravelling the dangerous secret of their guest and his luggage.

Does it deserve its bad wrap? Well, it's awfully dispirited, but not the worst I've seen. But hey, it would make a good bedtime story, since I couldn't stop yawning throughout. But that wasn't the only thing, as I was getting headache from watching it. I remember when this film came out and the hype that surrounded it. It was a very troubled shoot, with Walter Hill leaving the project and using the name Thomas Lee for the credits. Then Francis Ford Coppola was given a chance to fix it up, but it looks like no one could undo the mess that we got. After being released, it died a slow death at the box office! So after the god awful 'Marabunta' I saw a couple days ago, the next flick I came to watching was this garbage. Ah, actually 'Marabunta' might be inept, but at least it wasn't damn sleep inducing like 'Supernova'.

The production design is pure eye candy, with some impressive special effects that are nice to look at. These effects were brought to us by Digital Domain, which won an academy for their work on 'Titanic'. They add a bright and colourful frame to the film with there stunning visuals. The eyes might have been entertained, but ears had to go through a sorry state of weak and mechanical dialogue. The script just didn't make a whole lotta sense; I was just dumbfounded to what was actually going on and what was the deal about this alien artifact. Strangely in the extras there are (so many) deleted scenes, which would actually add more depth to the plot, but they hit the cutting room floor instead. They make much more sense and add more cohesion than that of the film. Although I'm happy that the alternate opening sequence was cut because it plain wishy-washy, but the alternate ending I thought was vastly better than with the one they went with. Which came across as rushed and cheated on the audience by being too sweet. My guess for those scenes being cut out was that they wanted the suffering to be over quickly for the audience. And if so, no way did that help! Obviously this flick heavily borrowed chunks from old to recent Sci-fi films (even add the TV series E.R) and 'Supernova' doesn't pull it off graciously at all. A lack of creativity really does hurt it, big time. Some things did get on my nerves like why let strange fella roam the space ship that they don't trust? Some moments felt contrived and where was the tension, there wasn't an ounce of it. Yep, nothing detected from my part. It's all about a horny space crew who are floating in space, aimlessly doing some irrelevant junk, oops I almost forgot and performing heroics. Couple of times I got up to do something without pausing because nothing really is happening to make you pause or that its not making the slightest bit of sense that you really aren't missing out on anything of importance. Importance? Who am I kidding! Sure the effects are presented in glossy manner, but I just couldn't help but feel cold and disconnected to everything else.

The performances are rather bogged down, with nothing memorable about them. What was a cast like this thinking, obviously they weren't. Who got the likes of James Spader, Angela Bassett and Robert Forster, who do nothing out of the ordinary but come to play stale characters? Then you got the likes of Robin Tunney and Lou diamond Philips. So what we got here is a above-average cast who look like they don't know what they are doing there and trying to come to grips with there shamble of a script. It's B-grade screenplay with A-grade production. Although, some of the production wasn't too crash hot, the editing was feebly put together and the soporific camera-work just comes off amateurish at times. Didn't they know how to zoom out, because most of the running time the camera shots were right up there? I guess that is what was giving me the headache.

The DVD cover tells us we're going to watch the uncut version - not seen at cinema - but honestly it was truly tame, so what was added in? Was it the oh-so many sex scenes, nudity shots because the violence was lacking, especially in originality.

With an appalling screenplay like this you'll be thinking how did this ever get the green light. It's simply a dud and a real boring one too.
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Kick butt excellent
DonB-517 September 2000
I rented this vid thinking it would stink based on what I've read here. Wrong. Original story line, excellent effects, good acting. I enjoyed the entire movie. It was not entirely predictable and was a heck of a ride. Sci-Fi fans will like this movie a lot more than some other higher profile movies such as Mission to Mars.
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Star Trek Enterprise III ?
nieuwlekkerland15 October 2004
This movie would have been great as a "Star Trek" Enterprise III series. James Spader seems to be an excellent but slightly foolish captain and he's convincible in his role. Beside Peter Facinelli, whom really sucked at trying to convince any viewer he's more then just a weak, if not bad, actor, the other actors performed rather well. As said, if the movie would have been a part of the Star Trek chronicles that is.... As a SF/Thriller though, as which the film has been categorized, this movie is silly, slightly pathetic in a way and incredibly stupid. As a SF/Thriller the actors take themselves way to serious and the whole thing gets rather sad, then again, it ain't that bad if you don't have Thriller demands;
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