Supernova Review

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The crew of a deep space medical vessel is infiltrated by a sociopath.


Allan Smithee is dead. Long live Thomas Lee. The Directors' Guild of America pseudonym, used whenever a director wanted to take his credit off a picture for some reason, became so well-known that it became a mark of Cain, so the veteran Smithee has been put out of his misery to be replaced by up-and-coming non-person Thomas Lee. This science fiction adventure was actually directed by Walter Hill, but after the usual "creative differences", he has yanked his credit.

In a scenario remarkably akin to Dead Calm cross-mutated with Event Horizon, the deep-space medical emergency ship Nightingale is summoned to a mining colony by a distress signal. During the hyperspace jump, a malfunction kills the captain, Marley (Forster), putting pilot and ex-addict Nick Vanzant (Spader) in charge, while the chief doctor Evers (Bassett) is worried that the summons came from her dangerous old boyfriend. However, a shuttlecraft arrives with handsome youth Larson (Facinelli) who claims to be the son of the heroine's no-good ex, and whose bone structure displays some alarming mutations. Soon, the charismatic sociopath is roaming the ship, seducing crew member Danika Lund (Tunney) away from her boyfriend (Phillips) and plotting to take back to Earth a "ninth-dimensional" artefact, which will either make him rich or end the universe.

One of the puzzles about the film is how a project as simple-minded and derivative as this could ever be the cause of "creative differences". It's frankly crap, with a few neat script footnotes - the collapse of civilisation in the early 21st century was triggered by the banning of violent cartoons - and a couple of clever tricks, like the free-floating camera that always suggests weightlessness. The sub-plots and the mcguffin are vintage Star Trek and the characters come straight out of their vacuum-packs like pre-designed action figures. It would be more fun if prettyboy Facinelli were a psycho in the Billy Zane league, or if anyone in the universe could care about James Spader in a space helmet.

Not a disaster, but no one's idea of an achievement either.

Not a disaster, but no one's idea of an achievement either.