a review by Chris McCaleb
This film was worse than Godzilla.
I thought I would never utter that sentence. But it's true. It's almost worth going to see it just to learn what aberration could possibly have earned that declaration. If you are one of those people that find yourself tuning into real-life tragedy on television, or who slow down to get a good look at a car accident, then maybe this film is for you. Because this film is a vast road accident, a horrible, terrible thing that didn't have to happen.
Is it fair to say this is worse than Godzilla, though? I mean, Supernova didn't hype the hell out of itself for almost a year in advance like Godzilla. Subtracting the hype, which I think is always the fair thing to do, and simply weighing the films on their own merits, then YES, it is FAR worse.
I generally find that when people say something has a "bad" story, that it could mean any of hundreds of things. It usually means that the person talking didn't take the time to think about the story very much. Or that there wasn't as much action as they would have liked; some people equate "story" with "physical action." Sometimes what they really mean is that the story did not have a happy ending, which they believe is required of every film. Or perhaps the story just didnít appeal to them personally, although it appeared to be well-crafted. I often feel this way about movies with Helena Bodice Carter.
But Supernova is a film that honestly has a bad story, and worse, a bad story that is poorly told. It is bad in the sense that, as a story, it is utterly dysfunctional. Plot elements are introduced then abandoned. Plot elements are based on ideas that really aren't that well thought-out to begin with. Characters make decisions for no discernable reason. Good actors are wasted. Good actors show that without proper direction, sometimes they slip into old habits.
I have never been to a film where the story was so poorly told that I honestly wondered if portions of the negative were missing - lost, say, in a studio fire, or destroyed by an insane director's hand. But this is that film.
The director* made the DISASTROUS decision to use a shaky, hand-held camera, which let's all agree for the record, DOES NOT WORK IN A SCI-FI FILM WHEN VISUALS ARE KEY. It made a situation which could not have been worse, worse. There's really nothing more to say.
Well, one thing: I was slightly interested in the naked Robin Tunney segments**, but that was not enough to salvage the film. I'm afraid I have to ask you to Encourage others to not see this film.
*Whoever that was. The name "Thomas Lee" can apparently refer to Walter Hill or even Francis Coppola, depending on who you're talking to.
** Of which there are many - but don't get your hopes up, it's more USA naked than it is HBO naked.
© 1999 Absurd Pamphlet Press