Directed by “Thomas Lee”
Supernova is an early 2000’s science-fiction film. The medical rescue vessel Nightingale 229 while on a routine patrol receives a distress call aimed directly for them and they respond. They use what they call a dimensional jump drive-which is one of the cooler ways of faster than light travel I’ve seen in a science-fiction movie.
They arrive at their destination, Titan 37, which is an abandoned mining moon orbiting a blue giant. A debris field damages the ship causing them to lose most of their fuel. Their only hope is to use their jump drive to escape but recharging it will leave them with an 11-minute window for escape. They find a lone survivor (Peter Facinelli) with a connection to one of the crew and bring him aboard along with a mysterious alien artifact that he has found. And so begins a struggle for survival.
James Spader stars as Nick Vanzant-a former junkie getting his life back together and serves as copilot for the ship. James Spader alone makes any movie worth watching. He is just phenomenal in everything. A brilliant actor. I think this may have been his second science fiction film. Previously he had played Dr. Daniel Jackson in the original Stargate film.
Angela Bassett stars as Dr. Kaela Evers who serves as the ship’s doctor. She has a personal connection to the villain of the movie. She is a great actress and through skill fleshes out a two-dimensional role that amounts to her being a girlfriend.
Lou Diamond Phillips stars as medical technician Yerzy Penalosa who is involved in a relationship with fellow crew member Danika Lund (Robin Tunney). He is just an incredibly strong actor in my opinion. Interestingly Lou Diamond Phillips went on to star in a Stargate spinoff series known as Stargate Universe. That show just so happens to be the final spinoff as of this writing. (We won’t talk about that thing that premiered on the now defunct Stargate Command.) With the presence of James Spader, I guess this makes the movie some kind of science fiction loop.
Peter Facinelli stars as Karl Larson who is the villain of the story. The object he discovered contains nine-dimensional matter which emits a radiation that turns back the clock on things. In this case it makes him younger and he is able to slip on board by pretending to be the SON of Karl Larson. It stretches believability a little bit that the Evers character would not know or recognize that this wasn’t Larson’s son but whatever. It’s a minor quibble. Facinelli does a good job of being threatening. He’s got the crazy thing down in this role.
The villain must always be the equal of the hero and he makes that happen here. Larson and Vanzant are reflections of each other. Larson lets his demons out to play while Spader’s character is working to keep them in check. Larson views Evers as a possession to be reclaimed while Vanzant views her as someone to care about. Larson destroys. Vanzant saves.
This is supposedly a Walter Hill movie though he did disavow it. “Thomas Lee” was chosen as a directorial pseudonym for release. It’s my understanding that there was a great deal of behind the scenes drama and this caused Hill to walk. With at least one other director and the editing skills of Francis Ford Coppola involved, it’s debatable how much of his film actually remains.
While the sets suffer from a low budget the special effects do not. I always thought that the late 90s until the early 2000s were a bit of a low point for special effects. By and large they just haven’t held up. It was a period between the move from model shots to CGI where both were being used still and most movies couldn’t make them look good together. This movie keeps everything looking good in the effects shot department. The exterior shots look good. It looks like they realized the limitations of the technology and limited the detail and time on screen. That works to their advantage here.
The movie doesn’t suffer from a lack of action. The two jump scenes alone are exciting. There are a few fights, but my favorite is when Vanzant gets back on the ship after Larson thinks he has marooned him on the moon. There are good jokes and the cast definitely raises the material they’re working with. The concept is pretty strong, and its execution is great. I don’t understand why there isn’t more love for this movie.
I highly recommend this movie. It’s a touch on the B movie side but it’s a very good B movie. And the ending in my opinion is fantastic. You must see it.