Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

'Supernova' is a bit of a disaster

Supernova (2005)
Starring: Luke Perry, Tia Carrere, Emma Samms, and Lance Henriksen
Director: John Harrison
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

When the sun is hit by a large meteor, it stars throwing off waves of superheated plasma and magnetic storms, which cause massive devastation on Earth. But that's only a prelude to the real disaster: A brilliant astronomer has predicted that the sun will go supernova in mere weeks, destroying all life on the planet.

"Supernova" originally aired as a two-part mini-series on the Hallmark Channel. I almost didn't bother watching it, because if the disaster being faced by Earth really is a supernova then the ending is a foregone conclusion. Well, since the DVD was sitting around, I ended up watching it anyway.

Basically, it's a by-the numbers disaster movie. If you like such things, you'll probably enjoy it... if the occasional bad special effect or computer graphic doesn't bother you, and you don't mind the number of continuity gaffs sprinkled throughout the film. Or the fact that there's a disorienting disconnect between the film's stated location and the locations it was filmed at. I know cities double for other cities all the time, and that Vancouver, Canada, has been passed off as just about every major American city at one time or another, but rarely has any cinematic effort been so sloppy in trying to get viewers to believe one place is actually somewhere entirely different.

The bulk of the series supposedly takes place in and around Sydney, Australia. But the principal photography took place in and around Cape Town, South Africa. South African license plates can be seen in several shots... and famous natural scenery such as Table Mountain is front and center in several scenes. This of course accounts for the strange lack of Australians anywhere in the film, white or aboriginal.

I can't help but wonder if the series was originally set in South Africa, and that it was decided that for some reason it would work better if it was set in Australia. Whatever the rationale, if you recognize Africa for Africa while watching it, it will appear that more than one set of characters manage to drive across the ocean.

Aside from the settings gaffes, the most annoying thing in the movie revolves around the calculations used to determine that the sun is about to blow up. I can't go into details without ruining a plot-twist in the second episode, but I doubt I was the only one one saying, "Seriously?" to it.

On the acting and casting front, everything is serviceable... like the general thrust of the film, every actor is playing the sort of character we're used to seeing them play. No one stands out as particularly bad or particularly good. The only missed beat is that if you're going to put Tia Cararre in your film or series, shouldn't there be at least one scene where she's in a tight outfit or showing lots of cleavage? I thought that was some sort of cinematic rule?

Oh, and if you are attracted to "Supernova" because you're a fan of Peter Fonda, you need to know that despite his presence on the DVD cover, his role amounts to an extended cameo. Not only does his character have nothing to do with the main action of the story--his role in it is over as the movie is starting--he has no scenes with any of the main cast. I can't help but think that is time on the series was a couple of half-days.

All in all, "Supernova" is something most of you can miss without feeling your life is poorer for it.

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