Supernova

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When a studio releases a film without letting critics see it first, there’s only one reason: It sucks, and they know it. If critics see it, they’ll only write reviews, and that won’t help any.

So I’m happy to oblige those responsible for “Supernova” by making this review as brief as possible.

Taking place in space in the future, “Supernova” has not one single original idea in it, borrowing instead from “Alien,” “Terminator 2,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and countless other sci-fi films.

Our heroes are a crew on a sort of spaceship ambulance that flies around the universe answering distress signals. One such signal comes from a destination so far away that the ship has to jump to the “ninth dimension,” whatever THAT means. This process is sort of like jumping to light speed, except that everyone has to get completely naked and encase themselves in protective pods.

So they jump, and they put their clothes back on, and then there’s something about there not being enough fuel to get back, so they have to hang around for a while. But the important thing is that the guy they “rescue,” Troy Larson (Peter Facinelli), turns out to have been altered and made unkillable by some kind of crazy alien substance that can 1) wipe out all existing life, and 2) create new life — “like God, only not as nice,” says someone in the movie (or maybe it was someone in the theater; I don’t remember).

The crew, in a rare moment of competence, wants to get rid of the alien goo, since they can tell it’s dangerous. As a result of this plan, Troy starts killing them. Fighting him off are tough-as-nails female captain Kaela (Angela Bassett) and bland-as-dirt co-pilot Nick (James Spader). Other crew members include the sex-having couple Danika (Robin Tunney) and Yerzy (Lou Diamond Phillips, in a role that will hopefully send him back to oblivion, where he belongs).

Meanwhile, the ship’s computer, Sweetie (who provides all the exposition and back-story, by the way, which is a sure sign of a poorly written movie), starts to act like a human being, even going so far as to fall in love with crew member Benjamin (Wilson Cruz). This idea goes nowhere. I mention it only because it’s stupid, and I’m hoping the movie will be embarrassed that I pointed it out.

“Supernova” was directed by Walter Hill, under the pseudonym Thomas Lee (another bad sign). The film was clearly intended to be rated R, but has been rather choppily edited down to a PG-13. This is most clear during the scenes with nudity or violence, where it’s obvious that things have been cut out.

The special effects are surprisingly good, and the film isn’t long enough to be boring. In fact, there are a few moments of actual entertainment, and studios have certainly let critics see, in advance, movies that were a lot worse than this one. Still, with herky-jerky, almost random storytelling, forgettable characters, wooden acting and no script to speak of, there’s no compelling reason to see this thing.

D+ (; PG-13, frequent male and female nudity, sex, moderately graphic violence, mild profanity..)

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