Tuesday, January 6, 2015

SUPERNOVA (2000)

SUPERNOVA (2000) 
Label: Scream Factory 
Release Date: January 13th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2:35:1)) 
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Angela Bassett, James Spader, Lou Diamond Philips, Peter Facinelli, Robin Tunney, Robert Forster, Wilson Cruz

Walter Hill directed a science fiction space thriller, damn this sounds like it might be a blast, but before you get your panties damp just keep in mind that Walter Hill abandoned the film after the initial filming when the studio would could not keep their hands off the project. When the studio demanded screen tests and re shoots the director left the project and the film went through he hands of two more directors before being dumped into the cinema at the turn of the century where it died a painful death, a ninety million dollar science fiction flop. Keeping in mind that good taste has never been my strong suite there just might be some fun to be had with this one, I do love a trashy b-movie if we cannot squeeze some enjoyment out of this one. 

Sometime in the 22nd century we have the medical vessel Nightingale patrolling the galaxy when they receive a distress transmission from an abandoned mining colony on the far side of the galaxy on a moon known as Titan 37. They make a hyperspace dimension jump to the location of the beacon only to be unexpectedly caught in the gravitational pull of a dying star. On top of that the captain of the ship (Robert Forster) dies a gristly death when his pod malfunction mid jump, his body fused to the inside of his pod. 


 On top of that they are caught in the gravitational pull of a dying blue sun and just barely escape. The co-pilot (Spader) manages to stabilizes the Nightingale and prevent it from being pulled into the sun but the ship is damaged and the fuel is lost. Their only way out is to make another hyperspace dimension jump but the ship needs fuel, and time to reset the hyper drive and it's only a matter of hours before things are going to get pretty hot on the ship, it's a race against time. 


The film has a decent cast, we have Captain Marley (Robert Forster) for about a minute, co-pilot Nick Vanzant (James Spader), medical officer Kaela (Angela Bassett), medical technician Yerzy (Lou Diamond Phillips), rescue paramedic Danika (Robin Tunney), and computer technician Benjamin (Wilson Cruz) plus a survivor from the mining colony, played with some menace by Peter Facinelli.


The plot is pretty threadbare and the script doesn't offer a lot of meat for the actors to chew on, both Spader and Basset do what they can with the material but there's just not much to it. They both come across as intense and brooding but there's not much substance to any of the characters. The survivor from the mining colony is douche nozzle from the beginning and as he transforms he only gets worse. The survivor has brought with him an alien relic composed of ninth dimensional matter which not only has made him stronger but threatens to potentially destroy the entire damn galaxy as it turns out. 


Now the race is on to reset the hyperspace drive and recover fuel from the Titan 37 before the entire ship in is pulled into the giant blue sun, but the crew must also contend  with a killer on board who is killing them off one by one. Not the most original plot but this one should be pretty decent on paper - there's a lot of potential here and for the most part it's just pissed away. 


That ninth dimension thingamajig is affecting some of the crew, too. Mostly Lou Diamond Philips, who is becoming both obsessed and possessed by it's ambiguous sinister power. And let me just say that when Wilson Cruz is supposed to be a bad ass you know something ain't right in Denmark.  When he has to toughen up I just could not buy it on any level, a poor casting choice. Additionally Cruz's character is having a romantic courtship of sorts with the ships on board computer system, affectionately named Sweetie. The A.I, is not the only love interest, we also have an often nude Robin Tunney to distract with the occasional  anti-gravity sex scene, which is appreciated but even her gorgeous naked form cannot save this formless sci-fi flop from it's mediocre fate.


The effects are not too shabby for 2000, some nice use of miniatures and digital artistry make for a few decent shots of spacecraft but the cosmic backdrop is given short shrift in my opinion, this is not the most attractive space odyssey, you just never get a feel for the wonder of space and space travel. 


The film went through all sorts of development weirdness and director Walter Hill removed himself from the project when the studio demanded test screenings and re cuts, afterwards both Jack Sholder was brought in to do re shoots and Francis Ford Coppola was brought in to re-cut it, with so many cook in the kitchen it's no wonder this is a muddled mess. 


On the plus side James Spader proves to be a pretty decent hero in the film with some quiet intensity and there are a few decent action sequences, but much like Tunney's welcome and pointless nude scenes these few moments of fun don't add up to a very good film at the end of the day.


Blu-ray: The Blu-ray from Scream Factory features the extended R-rated cut and not the PG-13 theatrical version. The image is expectantly sharper and more detailed than the previous standard definition DVD with strong color saturation and a nice layer of fine film grain but it just doesn't have the depth and clarity of a big budget, modern science fiction film in my opinion.  

The audio offers up a choice of DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo and a 5.1 surround option. Dialogue, score and effects are nicely balanced with some good atmospheric use of the surrounds. 


Onto the bonus content we have a making-of doc featuring interviews with producer Daniel Chuba, co-director Jack Sholder, and stars Robert Forster and Lou Diamond Phillips who all speak quite honestly of their experience making the film. Chuba explains the the film was originally intended as a low budget scrappy sci-fi thriller but that once it fell into the hands of the studio it became a big budget nightmare plagued by daily re writes and studio interference. Director Walter Hill eventually walking off the project, at which time Jack Sholder - director of THE HIDDEN -  was brought in to do re-shoots and re-edit the film. Apparently he didn't fare too well and just a few days into his re edits none other than Francis Ford Coppola (THE GODFATHER) was brought into finish the film. A pretty textbook example of too many cooks in the kitchen, and let me tell you this sci-fi bouillabaisse is just bland as can be. I only wish they could have got the participation of Walter Hill and Francis Ford Coppola to comment on their experiences, that would have been quite a watch. 

Perhaps providing some insight into the original intentions of director Walter Hill we are provided with fifteen minutes of deleted scenes that hint a darker film.  We have a tiny bit more of Robert Forster, an autopsy scene of a crew member, an extended sequences with Spader on the Titan where he encounters another survivor, and more of the final showdown on the Nightingale, nothing too fantastic. There is also alternate ending that is feverishly awful featuring a bit more of our villain and a slightly different outcome for our protagonists and a darker finish. 

Lastly we have a strange trailer that pitches the film as a sort comedy sci-fi thriller with a soundtrack featuring Sugar Ray and Three Dog Night, clearly the studio had no idea how to market this mess of a movie. 

Special Features
-The Making Of Supernova - New Interviews With Actors Lou Diamond Phillips And Robert Forster, Producer Daniel Chuba And Filmmaker Jack Sholder HD (25 Minutes)
- Deleted Scenes HD (15 Minutes)
- Alternate Ending HD
- Theatrical Trailer HD (2 Minutes) 

Verdict: Not an awful film but a very bland viewing experience and not one I would look forward to re visiting again anytime soon. I might re watch the making-of documentary again because the story behind the film is far superior to what ended up on the screen, not a film I can recommend. It's a bit of head scratcher why this was chosen to receive the coveted Scream Factory treatment over so many others. I think I would have preferred to see this released as a double feature disc paired with something else, on it's own it just doesn't do a lot for me. 

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