The 2000 sci-fi/horror film Supernova is one of those movies that had great intentions but just never quite lived up to its potential. A great director? Check. Walter Hill, director of The Warriors and Brewster’s Millions was at the helm. A great cast? Check. James Spader, Angela Bassett, Lou Diamond Phillips, Robin Tunney, and Robert Forster led the cast. But in the end the film was credited to Thomas Lee as director, a fictitious name and form of disowning the final product and James Spader referring to it as one of his only regrets. So, what happened? Simply put, the vision of the movie was being formed by people who weren’t visionaries. The original premise for the movie was developed in 1988 by director William Malone (1999’s House on Haunted Hill) as “Hellraiser in Outerspace” but with numerous rewrites, a new director, and yet another editing eye the film likely bared little resemblance to the original vision. I recently got a copy of the newly released Blu-ray and took a look for myself. That said, let’s get into what the movie turned out to be. Here’s a quick outline of the movie itself:
In the outer reaches of space a motley group of astronaut-medics aboard the Nightingale 229, a search and rescue ship where in the words of one of the medical crew “nothing” happens for long stretches of time is led by Captain Marley (Forster). He is joined by IT expert Benjamin (Wilson Cruz) who has modified the ship’s computer to have a quasi-human side, complete with a seductive female voice. Medcis Yerzy (Phillips) and Danika (Robin Tunney) are having an affair and hope to conceive a child (which requires permission from the government to do) while chief medical officer Kaela Evers (Bassett) has her hands full trying to deal with newcomer Nick Vanzant (Spader), a cocky pilot with a history of substance abuse with a mind altering drug. The main crux of the film comes in when they rescue a strange man that boards their ship. Unbeknownst to the crew, he has snuck on an alien artifact that will endanger the entire crew. This leads to a scenario in which the villain takes out the crew one person at a time until a confrontation forces resolution at the end.
So, is the movie all bad? By no means. Even though the movie falls a little short of a few other attempts at the same genre (the first one that comes to mind is Event Horizon) it still has some great qualities. First of all, it progresses a bit faster than some of the other movies out there. It would be geared towards those wanting a little more action from the movie. Secondly, regardless of what you think of the film itself, the cinematography is excellent. The vast expanses of space look vivid and captivating on Blu-ray. In a dark room on a large screen you can easily get sucked into the scenery. In my opinion, the cinematography and visual special effects make up for anything that the storyline lacks.
The Blu-ray is released in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which provides a lot more detail than a standard DVD definition. The film does have moments of dirt and specks and what I assume to be an intentional graininess quality to the image throughout, which seems appropriate for this particular movie. However, this does tend to mute some of the colors at times. While originally theatrically released as a PG-13 movie in 2000, this Blu-Ray released contains the 91-minute R-rated extended cut of the film, which has about 30 seconds of additional snippets of sex and violence compared to the original.
Exclusive HD Content:
The Making of Supernova Featurette
Note: The Making of Supernova might be the best part of the entire Blu-Ray. There are some hilarious moments including a scene in which the makers admit that the film was built largely around one set and with interchangeable costumes, as well as a uniformly blue palette, so that any given scene could be removed and reinserted anywhere in the film without anybody noticing.
Supernova is by no means a great film, but not nearly as bad as some might want you to think. If you like to see stunning visuals or fun attempts at science fiction and not a cerebral film like last year’s Interstellar you will probably enjoy this movie; however, it is more likely that this release is intended for those diehard cult fans or a film buff looking for an example of what happens when everything goes wrong.
Supernova is currently available from Scream Factory.
Fun Fact: Academy Award winner and Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola was brought in to perform the final edit of the film