Supernova (2005)

Starring: Luke Perry, Tia Carrere, Peter Fonda, Emma Samms, Lance Henriksen
Format: Color, N
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Ent
DVD Release Date: January 3, 2006



Not to be confused with the 2000 movie with the same name, this is a three-hour mini-series that originally aired on the Hallmark TV channel.

It stars a lethargic Peter Fonda as a Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist who discovers that we have somehow miscalculated the age of the sun, and that the sun is a lot older than we initially thought. So old in fact that it is about to go supernova and explode, destroying the entire solar system, and the Earth with it of course. Upon making his discovery, Fonda does what anyone else in the same situation would do, namely not tell a soul and instead go hang around a beach in South Africa with a blonde local waitress . . . (Well, wouldn't you?)

In the meantime a secret American government agency in the guise of Tia Carrere (Wayne's girlfriend from Wayne's World) is trying to get to the bottom of Fonda's disappearance and one of his fellow scientists (played by Luke Perry) becomes involved in the investigation. Pretty soon the sun start going haywire and in true disaster movie tradition countless national landmarks (the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, etc.) are destroyed by flying chunks of sun plasma (don't ask).

Thrown into the mix are several subplots. There is a secret scheme by a shady government agency run by Lance Henriksen to hide away a small group of specially chosen people in underground bunkers to sit out the coming apocalypse and guarantee humanity's survival (whoever dreamed up that plan probably got the idea from watching When Worlds Collide). We also have a down-on-her-luck investigative journalist trying to get to the bottom of things, and several other characters milling about getting separated from loved ones and then being reunited again as civilization goes for a loop around them.

As if the end of the world itself isn't enough, the climax of the movie involves a subplot about an escaped psycho convict threatening Luke Perry's family. After all, three hours is a mighty long running time to fill and if one has exhausted all the clichés and subplots stolen from Armageddon, Deep Impact and countless other disaster movies then you might as well throw in one stolen from Cape Feare for good measure I suppose.

THE DISC: You get some short interviews with the cast and director, a trailer for the movie itself and for Mysterious Island (a Hallmark Channel movie based on a Jules Verne novel starring Patrick Stewart). The image is presented in widescreen format which gives it more of a theatrical feel and makes one forget at times that one is in fact watching a made-for-TV movie.

WORTH IT? Now don't get me wrong: we here at the Sci-Fi Movie Page are suckers for End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It stories and have been hoping for ages now that someone would one day film our favourite End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It novel, namely Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

No matter how lackadaisical the acting and how cheap and obvious the cheesy computer graphics were, we loved Supernova to bits because . . . well, Supernova is supposed to be set in Australia, but it is so painfully obvious that it was filmed right here in South Africa that we couldn't help but crack a smile. (In several shots they didn't even try to obscure a very recognisable Table Mountain!)

We loved Supernova because . . . well, we can never get tired of scenes featuring rioting crowds in which people steal TV sets even though the entire planet is due for destruction in a few days? time. We love Supernova because . . well, we recognised a lot of those South African locations used. (Driving past a lake area used in the film I actually remarked to my wife one day that I'd shoot a film there. I'm glad that there are location scouts out there who agrees with me.)

RECOMMENDATION: If you're the type who finds the idea of Peter Fonda as a Nobel Prize winning surfer astrophysicist just too goofy to resist, then check out Supernova . . .



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