Supernova (2000) Directed by Walter Hill. With James Spader, Angela Bassett, Lou Diamond Phillips, Robin Tunney and Peter Facinelli.
A film is in big trouble when its director adopts a pseudonym for the release. Walter Hill is credited as ‘Thomas Lee’ for this science-fiction offering about the crew of a medical ship responding to an emergency distress signal. Sound familiar?!
Sadly, Supernova isn’t as entertaining as it would have been, had it chosen the path of out-and-out plagiarism of 1979’s Alien. Instead, it is a frustrating chore of a film that gets lost in its own tangle before it ever sets off. I use the word frustrating, because we have the template for a very good film here. The production design and special effects are all first rate, that said, $90m buys you a very convincing playground in which to work your magic.
If that weren’t enough, Francis Ford Coppolla worked in an uncredited directorial capacity, leaving a question open as to who else’s name is either buried or left off the final credits. Was Martin Scorsese the boom operator? Did Quentin Tarantino make the tea? Who knows!?
What we do know, is that the film is a stinker. With such a fine cast assembled, it’s astonishing just how muted and flat the performances are. I’m presuming it was a stylistic choice of the director, as opposed to the actors simply not trying. Either way, between James Spader’s disinterested mumblings and Angela Basset’s distanced turn, there is very little for us to engage with.
It’s often staggering to see so much time and effort wasted. The story is so weak and the actions of the characters are often so contrived, that you can’t help but wonder how it got to be this bad. The truth is, this is a film that struggles to make any sense, for the vast majority of its running time.
Once the last act kicks in to gear (there are no gears), you might feel your mood lighten a little. That’s not because you’ve started enjoying yourself, it is because, like the 9th hour of a 10-hour flight, you can feel the end is near. 1.5/5