Nick Vanzant is a recovering addict with a new job as the co-captain of a hospital ship. When a distress signal comes from deep space they make the jump but disaster strikes. It goes from bad to worse when the man they have come to rescue, Karl, turns out to be a psycho. Can they stop Karl and avert universal destruction before it’s too late? Find out in… Supernova.
How?! Nick is a former military pilot with a dark past. Recovering from addiction, he’s taken a post as co-captain of a hospital ship used for deep space rescue headed by Dr. Kaela Evers. A distress signal comes in, but some on board recognize the name and are worried. They make the dimension jump anyway, but the captain’s safety equipment malfunctions during the trip and he is killed. Now in charge, Nick determines that they have just enough time to gather fuel and jump back to safety before crashing into a nearby blue giant star. This would all make for a very boring movie, but luckily for the viewer, and unlucky for them, the man who sent the distress signal crashes on board the ship to spice things up. That’s because he turns out to be a creepy young man, Karl, who snuck aboard a container filled with multi-dimensional matter. One of the crew comes in contact with it and all of a sudden is made younger, faster, and stronger. Nick is concerned and upon further analysis they find that the artifact is a universal bomb meant to destroy civilizations with the gall to open it. Nick goes down to the nearby mining planet to try to find fuel, but is stranded there by Karl, who proceeds to kill everyone with his big multi-dimensional muscles and try to woo Kaele, his former lover from before he got all young and hot again using the alien machine. Can’t stop Nick, though, as he comes back and is able to subdue and trick Karl just long enough to eject him and the artifact into the blue giant. He and Kaela jump back to Earth just in time and learn two things. One, she’s pregnant (from them boning? Maybe. From them dimension-jumping together? Also maybe). Two, the artifact exploded and it’s just a matter of time before it reaches Earth. Am I smelling a sequel? (Hint: I’m not). THE END.
Why?! For most of the film they are just doing their job. They are a hospital ship, they get a distress signal, and regardless of their hesitancy due to the source of the signal they come to the rescue. Once disaster strikes it’s just a matter of survival. Karl’s motivation also seems rather simple. He’s a psycho, he’s always been a psycho, and now he’s under the control of an alien artifact that makes it so his psychotic tendencies could lead to the destruction of the universe. Very cool, Karl.
Who?! As mentioned, this is one of the very very few BMT qualifying films where the director (here Walter Hill) decided to go under a pseudonym. Not Alan Smithee, that was already played out, but Thomas Lee. While Patrick already notes that this will complete the pseudonymous directors for BMT proper, I will note that we will certainly get another as a Bring a Friend with Birds II: Land’s End.
What?! The alien artifact here is almost certainly a MacGuffin. Even more so that in the other Hellraiser in Space, Event Horizon. This is legit a little glowy pod that everyone is like “woah, this is super powerful and everyone will want it and it can do crazy damage and also make people younger and also contains ninth-dimensional matter.” And then everyone fights over it for an hour. Classic MacGuffin.
Where?! I do believe this is set entirely in deep space. At no point are we really ever sure of where they are except perhaps at the end when I think they jump close to Earth. This is through and through a space movie and nothing else. But that still means something as that setting is super necessary to the plot. A.
When?! Everywhere you look talks about how this was set in the early years of the 22nd century. I don’t necessarily recall how that is know besides maybe context clues (or maybe the presumption that it occurs about 100 years after present day), but I just gotta trust it. I’ll give it a B.
This was a hard film for me to assess. On first blush, I was surprised to see that this film was entirely disowned by the director(s). It had a dark, interesting style with some special effects that were impressive. The plot of coherent, with only a few parts where you could see the heavy post-production work show through (most notably a random sex scene between Nick and Kaela, which really confuses the pregnancy aspect of the end of the film). The last part of the film is not good and starts to veer into Lost in Space territory, with a final battle that just looks silly. But would I have guessed that the movie was considered a well-known disaster? Not really. The second half is straight-up bad and the whole thing is a little too self-serious to have fun with, but otherwise there were things I liked. Would I recommend it? Deary me, no. But it was more of a standard bad movie than I expected, given the reputation. Could it be one of those Ishtar type cases where the drama of the production ended up coloring the reviews at the time? Don’t know, but that’s my impression. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We’re going back to outer space and dabbling in Black Holes with Supernova. More like Superdupernova, amirite? Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – This film and Event Horizon were always confused in my mind. I could never really remember which was the horror film I found spooky scary, so I avoided both in the end. This isn’t a horror film though, it is a thriller that ended up being a mess and the director disowned it. A few fun facts in the preview though, like how the reshoots were performed by Francis Ford Coppola. That’s fun. What were my expectations? For this film to be cut to shit. Well and truly just butchered in the editing room. It was abandoned by its director and reshot twice … surely the film cannot be remotely coherent.
The Good – For the first half of the film the style, and in particular the sets, are extremely interesting. Like, I was intrigued by the storyline, and the deep space travel, etc. I was also surprised by Spader. I mostly know Spader by his later work, in particular his short stint on The Office, and his speaking style and mannerisms come across as really weird out of context. Seeing that same speaking style coming out of a very young and svelte Spader was jarring, but I couldn’t help but wonder how he didn’t become a major leading man in the early 00s instead of dropping into television. He was quite good. Best Bit: Spader.
The Bad – The film does completely fall apart in the second half. By the end of the film the ship ends up looking like Jason X due to the sheer silliness of what is happening within it … Somehow I liked the ship’s design in the first half, and then ended up feeling lost within a silly set in the second half. It was a weird feeling. The rest of the cast (in particular Peter Facinelli) were quite poor. And while the idea of the film is fine, the ultimate wishy-washy “welp … maybe Earth is going to be destroyed in 250 years … see you later!” ending didn’t help with the feeling that you were seeing only part of a film. Finally, for a thriller it was distinctly non-thrilling. It would have been better served just leaning heavily into horror. Fatal Flaw: Over-edited Nightmare.
The BMT – I think we’ve now completed a pretty solid stable of bad outer space films, and while this is mostly upper mid-table in badness, it still is an interesting note. Probably most notable as a Smithee film. This is, in fact, only the second BMT film where the director used a pseudonym … that sounds crazy, but I think it is because not very many wide release films get disowned in the end. Are there even any others available … let me do the analysis … Yeah, we have now completed all of the disowned BMT films available! Just Visiting and Stealing Home have people with pseudonyms, but I think that was for other reasons, and An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn wasn’t actually released widely. Kind of incredible. That genuinely means Hellraiser: Bloodline was the only (bad) Alan Smithee film ever released widely to theaters. That is insane! Did it meet my expectations? I think so, just for that early 00s shiny spaceship look and Spader being Spader I think it ended up being a pretty funny film to watch.
Roast-radamus – Unfortunately the setting and time period is a bit too vague to actually get any awards I think. Definitely love the MacGuffin (Why?) though for the alien nuclear bomb, and Worst Twist (How?) for the magic alien technology being said bomb designed to kill off other intelligent life in the universe. I think this is easily closest to BMT for the superlatives.
StreetCreditReport.com – The issue with finding lists for films from the 2000s is that you end up finding “worst films of the 00s in total” lists. I couldn’t find it on any of those. I do think this would give “worst black hole / supernova films” lists a run for their money. And I think it could even get to worst space films as well. But it definitely ends up on a short list of non-Smithee disowned films. Walter Hill hates this film. Now that’s some cred!
You Just Got Schooled – The wikipedia article for Supernova noted similarities with this film and the TV movie Alien Cargo! Obviously, I had to complete the trilogy (alongside Event Horizon). Debuting on January 28th, 1999 on UPN’s Movie of the Week (!) the film is actually kind of okay? Cheap looking, but the storyline of a space cargo ship drifting away from the solar system after parts of the crew kill each other in inexplicable anger is actually pretty neat (and indeed, quite similar to Supernova). In the end it turns out the Alien Cargo is a trap likely deployed by a sinister alien race who were attempting to use it to infect and destroy humanity. The most interesting bit is the methods by which Jason London (star of last week’s schooling film The Man in the Moon) helps save the sleeping crew of his cargo ship. C. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are ready to watch an old UPN movie of the week. But also you can almost definitely do worse.