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  Supernova You Don't Have To Be A Star
Year: 2000
Director: Walter Hill
Stars: James Spader, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Lou Diamond Phillips, Peter Facinelli, Robin Tunney, Wilson Cruz, Eddy Rice Jr, Knox White, Kerrigan Mahan, Vanessa Marshall
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the 22nd Century, and mankind has set off for the stars to explore way into deep space, which is where this medical rescue spacecraft is situated, its crew awaiting their next set of orders. Some pass the time by sleeping, others with ping-pong, others with sex, but there is a tension amongst them which goes largely unspoken, as if the experience of being out in the middle of nowhere is getting to them. To break the tedium, they receive a message from a solar system nearby, a distress call which they appear to be getting directly from the source: there's an emergency.

When it comes down to it, it's something of a minor miracle Supernova was made at all, let alone released. Given its Hellraiser in outer space premise hung around for so long (since the eighties, in fact) it was beaten to the punch by Event Horizon, it's little wonder nobody wanted more of the same not long afterwards, especially as the results already had the rumours abounding that not one person involved with it was happy about the way the film turned out. That in spite of director Walter Hill having a major role in the shoot, a fact hidden by the way he had his name taken off the credits to be replaced with "Thomas Lee", the first post-Alan Smithee alias.

Then there were further rumblings that Australian director Geoffrey Wright had stormed off the project before Hill had joined it in a rescue mission, and then Hill himself had stormed off when the studio were unhappy about the way it was going, leaving Francis Ford Coppola to step in, but really the overall impression remained that everyone wanted to forget about the whole thing. The public were only too happy to oblige, as it was snuck out into cinemas with little fanfare, then home video with even less effect, and by this stage hardly anyone would know what Supernova was, other than the hardcore science fiction aficionado who was attracted by, you know, spaceships and shit.

Actually, when it was finally finished (and even then there were a couple of versions to see), what it most resembled was one of those Alien rip-offs that proliferated around the few years after 1979 when assembling a crew in a grimy spacecraft and killing them off seemed like the surefire way of getting an audience in: see also countless slasher movies around then as well, only without the spaceships. So the spirit of New World productions, or the imitative Italian film industry, hung heavy over Supernova, except for some reason the cast appeared to be acting under the impression this was something of great quality rather than an unimaginative reheating of some twenty-year-old conventions.

Rather than an alien monster, the villain this time out was a possessed chap called Karl (Peter Facinelli) who they find on the surface of a moon which has just suffered a mining disaster with him the sole survivor. He manages to get aboard, where he finds a crew which in a bid to get this film taken seriously by adults all are suffering some degree of sexual frustration, even those who are having sex with one of the other crewmembers. Rather than rendering this with a more mature slant, it appeared to be more trying to engage with the audience by coaxing Robin Tunney from her clothes at regular intervals, along with selected male cast members showing their arses so the ladies and homosexual gentlemen did not feel left out. If you could tear your attention away from such cynical ploys, there were some nice (if very blue-coloured) special effects to enjoy, with hyperspace jumps and the star trembling on the brink of the title occurence. Overall, it was either too stupid for its ambitions or not stupid enough for the trashier end of the market. Music by David Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Walter Hill  (1942 - )

American director, writer and producer who specialises in action and Westerns. Entered the industry in 1967 as an assistant director on The Thomas Crown Affair, and in 1972 adapted Jim Thompson's novel The Getaway for Sam Peckinpah. Hill made his directing debut in 1975 with the Charles Bronson actioner Hard Times, but it was The Driver that introduced his hard, stylish approach to the genre. The Warriors has become a campy cult favourite, while The Long Riders was his first foray into Westerns, with Geronimo, Wild Bill and the recent TV show Deadwood following in later years.

During the eighties and nineties, Hill directed a number of mainstream hits, including 48 Hours and its sequel, comedy Brewsters Millions and Schwarzenegger vehicle Red Heat, as well as smaller, more interesting pictures like Southern Comfort, Streets of Fire and Trespass. Hill was also producer on Alien and its three sequels, contributing to the story of the middle two parts.

 
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