Supernova: Special Edition (1999)

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Released 4-Jul-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Alternate Ending-Included as part of the deleted scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 86:53
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Thomas Lee
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring James Spader
Angela Bassett
Robert Forster
Lou Diamond Phillips
Peter Facinelli
Robin Tunney
Wilson Cruz
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music David Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Supernova is one of those bad science fiction movies that tries to be the new Alien, but is so ham-fisted in its attempt that it makes you wonder what the studio bosses were actually doing when they approved the budget. The end result is the forgettable tale of deep space emergency rescue vessel "Nightingale". The movie itself is rescued from an inglorious end only by decent special effects, James Spader's unflinchingly dead-pan turn as co-pilot Nick Vanzant, and its exceptionally short running time of 86:53.

   The crew consists of the aforementioned co-pilot (James Spader), a paramedic (Angela Basset), two randy medical assistants (Lou Diamond Phillips and Robin Tunney), a computer technician (Wilson Cruz) and the Captain (Robert Forster). Their job in this far distant future is to float around in space and wait for emergency calls. Exactly why they have to float in the middle of nowhere when their jobs come from a central dispatch and they hyper jump to them in a matter of seconds, I couldn't really work out, but then again, it is usually a good idea not to ask too many questions with a movie like this.

   The troubles for the crew of the "Nightingale" really start when they receive a call from a deep-space mining operation. The hyper jump is made (replete with gratuitous nudity shot, because as we all know, hyper jumps must always be made in the nude), and a mysterious passenger (Peter Facinelli) is picked up, bringing with him both a mysterious object and some great pick-up lines ("You're very pretty, I haven't been around a girl in a while"). It is then up to James Spader to save the crew and the universe, all without breaking a sweat or cracking a smile.

   Despite all its problems, however, Supernova is still hard to dislike. It is rather like watching the team on the bottom of the ladder receive yet another thrashing - sad, bad, but strangely enjoyable.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer for Supernova reflects the movie itself in that it is generally poor, but overall is watchable. It is clear that MGM put little effort into this production reflecting the reality of Supernova's importance.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer drifts in and out for the entire length of the movie, with some shots being very clear and others being considerably blurred. Often shots that directly follow-on from each other will show a marked difference making it even more obvious. In general, scenes that contain added CGI based effects are clearer and sharper than the rest of the movie, but there are a number of non-effects shots that are very sharp as well. The shadow detail is exceptionally poor throughout the transfer, although this does not generally detract from the viewing. There are a few exceptions, such as the conversation between James Spader and Angela Basset from 19:05 to 19:17 during which almost all of James Spader's face cannot be made out. This transfer is free from low-level noise.

    The colours are quite good, although there is a predominance of blue in the lighting and sets that can become disconcerting at times. This was a decision made by the film makers however, and not a problem with the DVD. When there are bright reds, yellows, and greens (usually in the form of lights), the transfer has no problems.

    There were no MPEG artefacts to be seen in this transfer. Aliasing was also non-existent, however there was a severe case of wobble at 27:52, although whether this was a result of the film-to-video transfer or was an artefact introduced during the actual filming is hard to say due to the severity of the wobble. Film artefacts, both black and white, are constantly present throughout the transfer, as was a significant level of grain. Both of these aspects are quite disappointing when taking into account the recent vintage of this film.

    This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 50:37, roughly half-way through Chapter 16. The change occurs during a scene transition, but is still relatively noticeable as there is no fade to black. However, it does not particularly detract from the flow of the movie in any great way.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is a generally serviceable track that is good but not great.

    There are 5 audio tracks. All are recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s. The soundtracks are the original English, and dubs in German, French, Italian and Spanish.

    The dialogue was generally easy to understand at all times, even over some of the louder effects noises.

    Audio sync for the most part was good, but there were times when dialogue was obviously out of sync, reflecting more the use of looping than any problems with the DVD.

    The score by David Williams is typical science fiction fare with eerie orchestral pieces carrying most of the movie, and action sequences backed by more expansive and higher tempo pieces. The score is not intrusive and is generally not noticed, giving a good indication that it does its job very well.

    The surround channels were only used during action sequences and specific effects shots. The soundscape had a tendency to become very front-biased at times during dialogue, regardless of other action. This is a pity, as a space-ship is a good place to have creaks and other strange noises happening at all locations. Due to the sporadic nature of their use, the surrounds tended to call attention to themselves more than they should have.

    The subwoofer was generally well-used, although not to the extent that could have been expected given the genre of the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are only two types of extras presented on this DVD; deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer, with the only saving grace being the volume of deleted scenes included.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced and is animated with a general "Sci-fi" theme that is not really specific to the movie. Sub menus are not animated. It is generally easy to navigate, although placing menu items in a circle always puzzles me, as browse order is not easily apparent.

Theatrical Trailer

    The US theatrical trailer. Non 16x9, letterboxed. The quality of this trailer is quite good compared to the deleted scenes and even compared to the main feature itself. It also shows how misleading a trailer can be.

Deleted Scenes

    There are a total of 13 deleted scenes, making up a total time of 16:56. They can only be run one at a time from a menu and are:     These scenes are mostly interesting and demonstrate that there was a plan for a bigger background story that was cut.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     A Pan & Scan version of a movie is not much to get excited about, so I would suggest that the R4 and R1 versions of this disc are evenly matched.

Summary

    Supernova is a bad but enjoyable enough movie presented on a watchable but not good DVD.

    The video quality is disappointing, with a predominance of grain and film artefacts.

    The audio quality is good but not great, with surround use being particularly disappointing.

    The extras are satisfactory, but not brilliant.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Saturday, June 30, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayRCA 80cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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