Futuristic Movie Month: "Supernova" Review

Photo Credit: Sonar Entertainment (II)

It's a Giveaway! Enter Here for a Chance to Win the Transformers Trilogy on Blu-Ray!

Rating: PG-13
Length: 90
Release Date: January 14, 2000
Directed by: Walter Hill
Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller

“Supernova" is a classic 2000 sci-fi film about an intergalactic search-and-rescue mission gone wrong. With an all-star cast including James Spader, Angela Bassett, Peter Facinelli and Wilson Cruz, it is no wonder that "Supernova" has become a staple addition to sci-fi collections around the world. Director Walter Hill himself is a sci-fi veteran, known best for his work on films such as "Aliens," "Red Heat" and "The Warriors." No stranger to drama, high-intensity thrillers and out-of-this world settings, Hill was the perfect choice to take the helm of this thoughtful, yet fast-paced thriller.

The film begins when a deep-space mission leads a crew of six highly skilled explorers further into the darkness than the explorers ever imagined. The crew includes a captain, his trusty co-pilot, a computer engineer, two medical crew members and a paramedic with extensive experience on search-and-rescue missions. What starts out as a simple response call to a distress signal put off by a comet mining crew in another star system quickly turns into a deadly mess. The crew of the Nightingale 229 is pushed to the brink of its very sanity as it attempts to save the crew of the failed mining operation.

What the crew finds is a sole survivor who is not nearly as innocent as he looks. The rescued young man has secretly smuggled a forbidden alien artifact onto the ship. This artifact may be related to the nearby star on the verge of supernova. The crew of the Nightingale 229 must find a way to escape inevitable doom and break free of the giant star's magnetic pull before it becomes part of the greatest explosion since the Big Bang. Chaos breaks out as seasoned professionals turn into emotional human beings simply looking for a way to survive. This conflict is what brings the script of "Supernova" to life and gives the film a feel of a thoughtful, well-paced novel rather than a major motion picture.

“Supernova" remains true to its name, proving to be a big-scale film with a story that works out on a grand scale of its own. While the crew of the Nightingale 229 finds itself embattled with cosmic forces beyond its imagination, there is an equally compelling drama playing out on board the ship. The film is at its height when the crew is forced to debate what it will do with its dangerous rescued passenger and his contraband luggage. Even more intriguingly, the very item the crew blames for its misfortune may just prove to be the only thing capable of saving it from a fiery death.

The human drama in "Supernova" is undeniably compelling thanks to the iconic performances of Angela Bassett, Peter Facinelli and James Spader. Many of these actors were coming into their prime when "Supernova" was filmed, so sci-fi lovers may enjoy a peek at this often overlooked point in their careers. While the film did not receive major box office success or even critical acclaim at the time of its release, it has nonetheless become a staple of the sci-fi genre. "Supernova" manages to balance heart-pounding moments and chaos on a cosmic scale with surprisingly down-to-earth human drama between the ship's crew.

Not to be overlooked, the soundtrack of "Supernova" is second to none, setting the right tone at every moment throughout the film. Not content to be just another sci-fi film, "Supernova" excels by blending elements of the thriller and horror genre. The musical score and other elements of cinematography help "Supernova" pull off this task with style. There is a consistent look, sound and feel throughout even the most genre-bending moments of the film. In the midst of everything, the grandiose shots of space and the galaxies that inhabit it give a romantic glimpse into a potential future for humanity. "Supernova" may be set in the 22nd century, but its story, characters and ideals are undeniably timeless.

“Supernova" is a sci-fi film that has earned its rightful place in the horror and thriller genres. This fact makes "Supernova" appealing to those who are wary of the sci-fi genre, since it relies not on futuristic devices and aliens but compelling human drama and thoughtful questions. The movie itself is a visual oasis of beauty, while the script comes alive thanks to the efforts of brilliant and well-known actors. Although the movie came out in 2000, its message and character are highly relevant to modern audiences. There is nonetheless a nostalgic appeal to "Supernova" that will please even the pickiest of sci-fi fans.