Supernova (1999)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: James Spader, Angela Bassett, Lou Diamond Phillips
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

The good news about ’Supernova’ is that it’s not the total failure which some critics labeled it. The bad news is that it’s still not very good.

James Spader leads the crew of an intergalactic ambulance to a rogue moon to answer a mysterious distress signal. Once there, a stranger comes aboard who is carrying an alien artifact which could destroy the universe. The film was directed by Walter Hill (’48 Hrs.’, ’The Warriors’), but due to creative differences, he left the film during post-production, and had his credit changd to ’Thomas Lee’. Jack Sholder (’The Hidden’) was brought in to reshoot some scenes, and Francis Ford Coppola was hired to try and edit the mess into a comprehensible film. The result is a film with some nice special effects, a good performance by Spader (I’d never pictured him as a badass), and a really cliched story.

The plot obviously borrows from ’Alien’ and ’Event Horizon’. The story is also full of inconsistencies and laughable flaws in logic. (How can the stranger take over the ship?) The film is oddly paced and is very slow at times. The version of ’Supernova’ on the newly released DVD is an R-rated, cut which brings back 20-minutes of deleted scenes. (Even still, the running time of the actual film is 83 minutes, with some 8 minutes of credits.) The film has some great special effects and at least one good scare, but it collapses under the weith of it’s own silliness and the turmoil behind the scenes.

The MGM Home Video DVD of ’Supernova’ is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 2.35:1. (The DVD also features a full-frame version of the film.) The digital transfer is very crisp and clear, but does reveal a very fine grain on the image in some shots. The source print is free of defects or blemishes. The colors on the image are quite nice, spotlights the blue tones of the ship’s interior and the deep blackness of space.

The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which offers a nice sound field. There is an interesting use of surround sound here, most notably with the voice of the ship’s computer. There is a noticable lack of bass response in the mix with only occasional utterances from the subwoofer. ’Supernova’ is a single-layer disc and shows no complications due to compression.

The DVD contains the original theatrical trailer for ’Supernova’ and it has to be one of the worst trailers that I’ve ever seen. (Can you say, ’We don’t know how to market this?’) They should have used chapter 5 from the DVD as the trailer. It would have been much more effective. Despite the 20-minutes of footage added to this R-rated version, we also get almost 10-minutes worth of deleted scenes, featuring an alternate opening and an alternate ending. Most of these scenes are forgettable, except for one where Spader’s character makes a shocking discovery on the rogue moon. This has to be one of the most disturbing things that I’ve seen in quite a while. Ultimately, ’Supernova’ was probably doomed from the start, but if you were confused by the theatrical cut, you may want to check out this new version.