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Supernova (Blu-ray Review)

SupernovaWhen Scream Factory announced they were releasing Supernova many moons ago, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the distributor’s most celebrated announcement of all time.  The film came out back in 2000, wasn’t liked at all and bombed at the box office pretty hard.  Director Walter Hill allowed it to have some sort of historical significance by removing his name for the picture and making it the first film to use the Thomas Lee moniker as Alan Smithee had been laid to rest.  Taking a quick look at Rotten Tomatoes, its one where the audiences and critics both healthily agree actually, sporting 10% critic and 16% audience appraisal.  The one thing that I think made sense for Scream Factory on this release wasn’t the film itself, was likely bringing back some of its players to tell the story of what exactly happened with this release.  Now, that is something that did peak my interest when they announced their extras.  No Walter Hill, no Angela Bassett, nor Francis Ford Coppola – but Lou Diamond Phillips, Robert Forster, Jack Sholder and Daniel Chuba are enough to suffice.

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Film 

In the future, the medical ship Nightingale 229 while on patrol responds to a emergency distress call from a mining ship that happens to be 3000 light years away.  Its an iffy call because they have to do an interdimensional jump in order to get there.  The jump doesn’t go smoothly; their ship is damaged and they have to recharge before a high gravity blue giant pulls them in and incinerates them completely.  On the ship that made the distress call, they find a young man claiming to be the son of the man who made the distress call (Who also happened to be an old acquaintance of the medical officer) of and an alien artifact.  This man is definitely not a trustworthy one and the alien artifact begins having a weird effect.

Supernova basically seems like its some sort of Event Horizon knock off or film trying to be the next in the line of The Shining in space kind of horror.  Though it doesn’t lend itself to more thoughtful haunting horrors and is more in line with straight out attacks and supernatural slasher-esque.  Weirdly, this time around I had Danny Boyle’s Sunshine stuck in the brain while watching this.  It sort of has a similar skeleton structure to basic events and results as that widely praised film does.  But, let me make this clear, Supernova is NO Sunshine.

Its weird that Supernova isn’t much stronger based soley on some of its cast member.  Looking on paper, Angela Bassett, James Spader, Robert Forster, Lou Diamond Phillips and Robin Tunney seem like a cast worth taking a trip with.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work out much at all as the boring material they’re given and just overall tired story can’t be overcome.  Peter Facinelli here is the odd one out.  This is the first thing I saw him with outside of Can’t Hardly Wait, and he just doesn’t work here.  And I think its due to the role needing him to prevail and take over the film, and he can’t really hold a candle to any actor he’s in a scene with.  The part he’s given is kinda dumb, but a better performer might have been able to make it more interesting.

While Walter Hill distanced himself from the film, I still got a chuckle at an obvious piece of him still in there.  Back when he wrote Aliens he was all about this zero gravity sex scene between Ripley and Dallas that wound up never being filmed.  Well, in Supernova, its here – TWICE even!  Although, its actually the same sex scene done as two different ones.  When its James Spader and Angela Bassett, think again, its actually Peter Facinelli and Robin Tunney.  They digitally darkened Tunney’s skin to make you think its Bassett.  Yes, this movie is that lame.  But, I wonder if Hill was happy filming the one scene, like “YES! Finally my zero gravity fornication is capture on film!”

Fifteen years later, I really didn’t find any new appreciation for Supernova.  Its still every bit the uninteresting and lame film it was back in 2000.  I’ll give the film that it does have a solid premise or idea coupled with a some very strong cast members, but it never manages to ever execute or take advantage of any of that very well.  I’m not sure if there’s any sort of fanbase for this movie, and if there are I’m open to hearing their praises for it.  But I’m just as shocked as many of you that this has made it to Blu-ray (take that, True Lies!).  Good for Supernova, though.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: This transfer is sort of two different tales.  On one hand it looks like one of those “did the best they could” with it 90s films that just seem more difficult to get right on Blu-ray for some reason.  However, whenever there is a scene with a digital effect or any exteriors, the film takes on a whole new clarity and looks really impressive.  Either way, the detail is still solid and I think this Blu-ray look for the film helps make you find some appreciation where you didn’t before at least in its, effects, set designs and costuming.

Black Levels:  Blacks are natural and nothing in the way of crushing hid any detail.

Color Reproduction: Colors mostly hang on blues and grays.  Some of the purple in the whatever it is they bring back does come through strikingly and bold.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones look cool and natural.  Detail such as wrinkles, stubble and scuffs all shine through nicely.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some grain and a few specs throughout.

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Audio 

Please Note:  There is a repeatable audio drop that occurs at 21:20 in the 5.1 track.

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  For a movie like Supernova, this is likely the best its going to get.  The track is nothing special, but I think displays enough to get the job done.  I was surprised to find the audio drop, but its not going to detract you completely from the film and I wonder as to if they’ll even do a replacement disc for it.

Low Frequency Extension:  Your sub gets a lot of work in this bass heavy track.  Crashes, blasts, engines and all sorts of action receive a boost.

Surround Sound Presentation: It has some interesting moments, but is mainly standard fare.  The rears do some score and ambiance while most of the movement and action comes from the front speakers.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear.  Nothing incredibly impressive but it gets the job done.

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Extras 

Supernova comes with an image on the backside of the cover art.

The Making Of “Supernova” (HD, 25:01) – Well, this is the reason to grab the disc if you’re going to.  This is a nice look at the mess of the production it was with Lou Diamond Phillips, Robert Forster, Jack Sholder and Daniel Chuba.  Sholder is always an entertaining blunt guy on these things and he makes a lot of sense with what he tried to salvage the film with.  Lou tends to sit and defend Walter Hill, and probably rightfully so.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:18) – An absolutely horrible trailer for this movie that is so far off from what this movie actually is.  Seriously…check this out.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 14:40)

Alternate Ending (HD, 5:27)

Also From Scream Factory – Trailers for Lifeforce, The Incredible Melting Man and Invaders From Mars.

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Summary 

The whole reason to get this release, if you’re not a fan of the film, is the brand new “Making Of” mini doc about this film’s production.  And like always, Scream Factory comes through on that.  It also ports over essential deleted scenes and the alternate ending to the film as well that were on the DVD.  This release features an average video transfer and audio presentation that is just OK.  If you can somehow checkout the Making Of featurette, that’s awesome.  Its no secret that I’m a big Scream Factory homer/apologist/worshipper/enthusiast, but I don’t know how to really drum up excitement for this release as its not a very good film and doesn’t have any merits hidden within it.  Scream Factory has done a solid job with the release, its just not a strong or even good film, which makes it a very hard sell.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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