It's never a good sign when a director won't allow his name to be shown in a
film's credits. Director Walter Hill has used his pseudonym, Thomas Lee, here,
which set warning bells off for me before ever reaching the movie. The fact
that the script has been worked on by numerous different writers and that MGM
didn't allow for an advance screening to critics, further went to show what a
dog they had on their hands here. As a result, I went in expecting a godawful
film. Sure enough, what I got was a piece of garbage. A rather nice looking
one, but still trash through and through.
The deep space medical ship, Nightingale, has just picked up a distress signal
from an abandoned mining colony. The crew is led by Nick Vanzant (James Spader)
after the former captain, A. J. Marley (Robert Forster), is killed in the first
fifteen minutes. The medical staff is comprised of Kaela Evers (Angela
Bassett), Yerzy Peneloza (Lou Diamond Phillips), Danika Lund (Robin Tunney) and
Benj Stotomajor (Wilson Cruz). Upon reaching the colony, the crew finds one
man, Troy Larson (Peter Facinelli), who is in posession of an alien object he
found at the site and whose father had a fling with Kaela. It soon appears that
Troy has been influenced in some way by the artifact, and he is now after the
crew. Meanwhile, an accident has caused the ship to run out of fuel, and they
are slowly being sucked into a nearby star.
If my plot summary sounds rather insipid, that's because the film itself is so
utterly ludicrous. We know everything that is going to happen well before it
happens: who's going to die, who's going to live, and even how they're going to
die in most cases. After a dull, plodding start, which I suppose was present to
develop the characters (it failed miserably), the film leaps into overdrive and
doesn't let up; this includes the camera bouncing all over the place (i.e. "The
Blair Witch Project"). As for the acting, very little is required. Besides
Spader and Bassett, the crew members are required to scream a lot and run
around. Spader is rather humorous at times, particularly when speaking with the
ship's computer in a few surprisingly amusing scenes.
The film is certainly rubbish, but it's refuse that is pleasing to the eye. The
ship itself is an interesting design, looking something like the Nostromo from
"Alien" crossed with a modern space shuttle. The moon on which the mining camp
is located looks wonderful during several scenes; especially those in which
Spader walks along a massive tunnel and we are granted a view of the entire
camp with the blue star in the background. The alien artifact is oddly
designed, with waves of energy constantly pulsating from it and distorting all
objects nearby. As for the film's ending (which I normally wouldn't mention but
I feel obliged to here), it never exactly ends. The film simply stops, leaving
us with several small unanswered questions and one huge one. The nice thing is,
you won't care in the slightest after leaving the theatre.
Robin Tunney (End of Days) is quickly approaching being one of my least
favorite actors. The girl may be attractive, but she obviously cannot act her
way out of a paper bag. Her part here requires a slight acting job, and she
still fails to deliver an adequate performance (not that her dialogue was any
help). "Supernova" may be rated PG-13, but it sure pushes that rating to
extremes. The film is full of nudity, violence and sex. It just screams for an
R rating, but all the scenes are cut just around it so you seldom fully see
anything. The movie runs 125 minutes which could easily have been hacked down
to 95 or so. I'd recommend missing this one and grant it two stars.
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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now.
* * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one.
* * * - Okay movie, hits and misses.
* * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do.
* - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.
Copyright © 2000 John Beachem