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Alexandra DuPont takes a whiff of SUPERNOVA

Hey folks, Harry here. Many have asked why there has been NO review of SUPERNOVA on the site... Not just me... but from anybody else. Well... Noone had the balls to do it, so... our TalkBack Diva, Alexandra DuPont decided to exhibit massive cajones and ventured forth to seek out the truth for us lazy scared ball-less bastards. The following is so funny... That I'm afraid... I have to go see this thing. It sounds like an excellent get loaded and stare at the screen cock-angled with drool escaping the corners of your mouth. Sounds FUN!

Alexandra DuPont reviews SUPERNOVA

Toujours, Harry. I hadn’t seen a review of “Supernova” on your site (an utter famine of preview screenings will lend itself to that, won’t it?) so I thought I’d save you the trouble. Please feel free to post it if you feel it would be a valuable public service, akin to telling kids to stop smoking crack or continue watching “Felicity” since she’s cut her hair.

For trouble, dear sir, is precisely what “Supernova” is, in the form of a polite, abandoned mess. It’s not really an EMBARRASSING mess, or even a FUNNY mess -- it’s just the sort of thuddingly dull, uninvolving mess that you’d find in, say, an episode of “Space Rangers” (which is actually rather too harsh on “Space Rangers”) or that Sci-Fi Channel TV movie “Assault on Dome Four” (which actually starred Bruce Campbell as the bad guy and was sort of funny/bad) or, well, “Event Horizon” (only not as cool-looking, what with “Supernova”’s lack of gothic-cathedral spaceships flying through clouds and such.)

I know I’m not really surprising any “insiders” here -- the film was more or less abandoned by Walter Hill, then adopted, beaten like a redheaded stepchild and abandoned again by Francis Ford Coppola, and is now “directed” by some new pseudonym for “Alan Smithee” -- “Jimmy Smits” or some nonsense. If this film were a child, it would be slopping gruel at juvvie hall by now. Here’s the spoiler-packed breakdown:

THE PLOT: Rescue ship detects distress signal on rogue moon close to on-the-verge-of-exploding star. The stunningly well-built and chiseled crew of said ship includes recovering-addict pilot James Spader, stoic doctor Angela Basset, sex-mad Lou Diamond Philips and Robin “End of Days” Tunney (boy, haven’t THEY had great professional years, those last two?), plus token nancy-boy/computer whiz Wilson Cruz. Oh, and I literally almost forgot: red-shirt/captain/Ph.D-candidate-writing-his-thesis-on-cartoons (!) Robert Forster, who should have learned his lesson with “The Black Hole” and stayed away from science fiction. FOREVER.

Anyway, the crew rescues a handsome stranger (Peter Facinelli) who’s smuggling a “mysterious,” computer-generated blob of an alien artifact. Deaths and badly shot fight sequences ensue.

I put “mysterious” in quotes because I think it’s more the case that the writers simply didn’t know WHAT the artifact should do. It’s like they were sitting in a story meeting yelling, “It’s a bomb!” “It’s the Genesis device!” “It’s the fountain of youth!” AND “It’s a device that will allow Lou Diamond Philips to do handstand push-ups!” and, exasperated and tired, they simply chose all four. I’m not exaggerating -- that’s what it feels like watching this film.

WHAT’S GOOD: The effects, consisting mostly of starkly lit shots of moonscapes and soon-to-explode stars and such, are actually quite nice. Deserving special mention are shots of Spader crossing a bridge on a moon base and Robin Tunney suffocating in space (although “End of Days” may be prejudicing my enjoyment of that latter shot). I must also “give props,” as they say, to any depiction of 3-D computer or laser graphics in this film. They’re rather nifty, if somewhat impractical. (Not too many candidates for my Computer Rendering Arena of Shame Hotsheet [CRASH] here.) The final shot is agreeably composed. And my, Mr. Spader has been hitting the gym -- he’s almost as buff as Angela Bassett.

WHAT’S NOT-SO-GOOD: The overly grim and/or flat acting. Let me put it this way: “Supernova”’s ensemble made me miss the multi-faceted performances in “Event Horizon.” Bassett takes her stoic thing WAY too far this time, and then, somehow, finds a way to broadcast some extra grimness into the normally quirky Spader. Oh, and that fellow they pick up, this hosehead pretty-boy Facinelli -- Lord! He’s just sitting there with his pecs and his six-pack thinking he’s SO hot when in fact he’s coming across as a sort of lobotomized Billy Crudup, only with “evil,” Patrick Tatopoulos-designed extra bone structure and no eyebrows for the final reel. (BTW, I love how all “evil” makeup these days looks like what they do to Angel when he becomes a vampire. Too much eyebrow, apparently, being a sign of virtue.)

Also foul-smelling: Walter Hill’s camera work. The whole thing (other than the very good effects shots) is shot in moving-camera closeup, as if the film were aiming for an “NYPD Blue” meets “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” kind of vibe. The sad side effect of all this claustrophobia is that it leads to confusion; with no spatial relationships established, it’s hard to tell who’s where at a given time, which undermines any sense of suspense.

Other nit-picks and rather pointed questions:

(1) Why didn’t they handcuff, guard or otherwise lock up this handsome-stranger con man after they realized he was up to no good? Why?

(2) Why is the token ship’s robot dressed in WWI flying-ace garb -- and why does he walk like a damned amateur breakdancer?

(3) Why is the ship’s computer blessed with “attitude”? And some sort of half-assed moment of self-awareness that comes to absolutely NOTHING?

(3 and a half) I’m going to guess that Coppola’s “contribution” to “Supernova” was the semi-non-linear cross-cutting of certain sequences. They’re confusing, Francis. Could someone please take Mr. Coppola OFF HIS LITHIUM immediately? We’ll just put him in a straitjacket for the non-manic periods.

(4) Why do people go into the zero-gravity area to have sex so often in this film? It just looks plain difficult to me. And I have now officially seen too much of elfin, open-mouthed Robin Tunney getting laid in the past two months. Period.

(5) Why does every science-fiction variation on “Aliens” have to contain a hypersleep-style chamber? And why do people have to take off their clothes to get inside? Isn’t it COLD ENOUGH in there already?

(6) Oo, which leads to my favoritest dumb thing in “Supernova.” Ready? It’s a spoiler: Spader and Bassett are forced to share a hypersleep-style chamber that will supposedly intermingle their molecules as they’re traveling through hyperspace, or something. Anyway, it’s a big risky thing, and when they come out of it on the other end, the only side effect is -- THEY EACH HAVE ONE OF THE OTHER’S EYES. Oh, and Bassett’s pregnant. I mean, really -- when Robert Forster goes through the chamber, he friggin’ molecularly bonds with the chamber glass and they have to kill him.

You have been warned.

Alexandra DuPont.

DuPont@dvdjournal.com

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