The first few wide releases in early January are notorious for their dubious quality However, one of this year’s early debuts, Supernova, has two other early warning signs. There were no advance screenings (usually a sign the studio doesn’t want word leaking out). And, more tellingly, the director voluntarily removed his name from the film. And yet, even with it’s low expectations firmly esconced, Supernova plummets wildly beneath the lowest of all expectations.
Similar to 1998’s Event Horizon, Supernova tells the tale of a spaceship crew who happen to encounter an alien artifact, and much mayhem ensues. In this case, the spaceship is the Nightengale, a medical vessel in deep space for emergency rescue operations.
Headed by Captain Marley (Robert Forster), the crew is about as ragtag as you can get. There’s a computer tech, Benj (Wilson Cruz), who is involved in a love affair with his computer, and two medical techs on board, Yerzy and Danika (Lou Diamond Philips and Robin Tunney), more interested in sex than actual medical work. The ship’s doctor, Kaela Evers (Angela Basset), struggles with a painful past, and the ship’s newest member, Nick Vanzant (James Spader), is an ex-military man (and recovering drug addict)
Responding to an emergency distress call, the Nightengale discovers one survivor from an abandoned mining colony. The man, Troy Larson (Peter Facinelli), is taken aboard by the Nightengale. Unbeknownst to the crew, however, he has smuggled a mysterious alien artifact on board the ship. Will it bring danger to the crew (and maybe the rest of humanity)? Is there really any question?
The cast of Supernova is composed primarily of recognizable faces…which makes it all the more unusual that the film is so utterly horrid. Certainly all of these actors couldn’t make a bad decision like this one? Don’t be so sure. There is little to nothing redeeming about this movie.
The film is composed of some potentially interesting ideas, but not a single one develops into anything worth a look. Anything which could prove potentially entertaining either veers off in an inconsequential direction, or else is dropped entirely. The whole film looks like it was edited by a rusty blender. Although the result is perplexingly truncated, at least it is mercifully short (clocking in at under 90 minutes).
In a film like this one, you know that the crew will be slowly killed off one by one. However, rather than being an interesting or an unexpected demise, each death is staged as its own anticlimactic event. Some of this is obviously due to some severe editing to allow the film to squeak by as PG-13, but most of the time it is just ridiculous plotting.
The special effects, often the only thing worth watching in a low-quality sci-fi flick, are nothing impressive. One of the film’s “money” shots, a “dimensional jump” is stale, bland and well overlong. Fight sequences consist exclusively of one person throwing another against a wall. And when the film introduces it’s robots (who are ridiculously cheap looking), you recognize just how desperately bad things have become.
The only thing surprising about Supernova is how it continually manages to underwhelm. This one is already a strong front-runner for worst of the year, and hopefully doesn’t bode ill for the rest of 2000’s crop of movies.