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movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Supernova

Starring: James Spader, Angela Bassett
Director: Thomas Lee
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: January 2000
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Wilson Cruz, Robert Forster, Robin Tunney, Peter Facinelli

Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4

There once was a sci-fi film that MGM budgeted at $60-million plus that went through directors as it was filming just about as quickly as a child goes through candy. The first smart soul left citing creative differences. Then Walter Hill came onboard the project, but after seeing his vision sliced down to a nearly unrecognizable 85 minutes, he requested his name be taken off and replaced with the pseudonym of Thomas Lee. Rumor has it that even Francis Ford Coppola was hired to film the reshoots. Every filmmaker, it seems, had the right idea when deciding they didn't want to take credit for the film. By the way, the film I speak of is "Supernova," it has allegedly sat on the shelf for almost two years, and it is a haphazard excuse for a movie, the type that you watch and then immediately wonder if the studio expected one person in the whole audience to walk out of the theater liking it. Handling your very negative feelings about "Supernova," you can either get angry at having part of your night wasted, or you can heartily laugh and make fun of it on the drive home from the theater. My filmgoing companions and I chose the latter---with a vengeance!

Even in the opening minutes, "Supernova" screams of severe post-production editing, and you'd suspect it was to salvage any sort of remains of a worthwhile motion picture. But remember MGM's 1998 thriller, "Disturbing Behavior." After whittling down the poor director's vision from 110 to a ridiculously short 83 minutes, out went any signs of character development and in came one plot hole after the next. The deleted scenes were then resurrected on DVD, and after watching the 110-minute version, I grew a deep sympathy for all involved, except the culprits at MGM. Even the 83-minute cut of "Disturbing Behavior," however, is reminiscent of "Gone With the Wind" compared to the bone-headed plotting and amateurish cutting of "Supernova."

The cast is filled with such talent, both from veterans and rising stars, that it is an unfortunate state of affairs when every single one of them can fall for appearing in a movie that has been so distinctly recycled from countless other films. "Supernova" may have been chopped up and stir-fried to its current paltry length, but no cutting in the world can hide the fact that this story did not need to be told again, and the millions of dollars certainly did not need to be so egregiously wasted. Making things more depressing is that the visual effects look like they have come right out of a direct-to-video movie. Where did all that money go to? Did the cast and crew literally throw the hundred dollar bills up in the air and, to entertain themselves, shoot at it with guns during the breaks in filming?

Supposedly set in the 23rd-century, since I read this in a magazine article (the year is never mentioned in the film itself), on the medical rescue vessel Nightingale, which must answer a distress signal, the inhabitants include...oh, why bother with names or characters? The screenwriter and editor sure didn't. At the mine where the signal is coming from, they meet Troy (Peter Facinelli), who is welcomed aboard and turns out to be an alien and kills everyone aside from the first two actors billed in the credits. The vessel continues off into space, and the title "Supernova" appears on the screen, which then fades to black. The end. Sound like something you want to pay your money towards? I didn't think so.

Copyright 2000 Dustin Putman

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