Monday, December 7, 2009

Cheesy Sci-Fi Movie Review: Supernova

As I said with my Black Hole review, not that Supernova, this one.

I review this only for completeness; like The Black Hole, this film came in a boxed set. The fact that it came in a box that I felt compelled to mock alone was a warning sign; that I enjoyed The Black Hole and Final Days of Planet Earth (for which a review is upcoming) are good signs.

But Supernova just stinks.

First up, Supernova is three hours long.

THREE HOURS. (It originally aired as two episodes; yes, this is made-for-TV movie. I guess you get what you pay for-although those all air on cable now...)

That might not be so bad, but what you get is three hours of bull like this.

I nearly cheered when that guy got incinerated. "That guy" is somebody-or-other Sheppard, a "brilliant" scientist who believes that the Sun is much older than we thought, and that it's about to die in a supernova (hence the film's title). We know that's the premise from the beginning; there's not really any mystery to unravel at all.

Of course, as you would learn if you looked at Wikipedia's entry on it, the idea of the Sun going supernova without warning is utter nonsense.

A simple, basic knowledge of astronomy (as per even the simplest college course, or even a high school science textbook) would also tell you that this is nonsense. Why?

Well, we're reasonably confident that we can guess at the age of the Sun with some accuracy. We really don't know that much about the Sun itself, but we can see millions of stars to compare it to. We don't have any good experimental data, but we have a huge amount of observational (or to use a better term, empirical) data. Further, only big stars, and I do mean big stars, have ever been observed doing anything remotely like erupting in supernovae. (Let's not even get into the fact that the film seemed to be implying that the reason the Sun acted up was actually because a chunk of a planet that got blown up by some other supernova fell into it. That's not just bad physics, that's Space Western Comics physics.)

If the Sun were really as much older as they supposed it might be, it would be showing its age rather than looking the age that we guessed it to be. And how would it show its age? Well, over a period of thousands (upon thousands) of years, its light would get redder, and it would expand in size. Eventually it would get big enough to destroy all life on Earth, and then probably the Earth itself.

There are worse problems with the film, like the fact that the Sun shoots fireballs at Earth with uncanny precision. As noted on Wikipedia, the Earth would essentially be tiny in the Sun's sky, an itty-bitty speck, so basically, unless it shot out many many hundreds or even thousands of fireballs in random directions, it's very unlikely that even one would hit Earth. Yet fireballs hit Earth on at least three separate occasions, and they seemed to be numerous events rather than three big discrete ones. That might just be scattering, but the idea that it was randomly shooting them makes no sense at all.

Thus, we can conclude that, for whatever reason, somehow the fireballs were directly fired at the Earth itself.

And thus, one must conclude that the Sun either came to life and was annoyed at the inhabitants of Earth for some reason, or was briefly possessed by a demon. Something kind of like this, perhaps.

Which convinced my sister that behind the scenes somewhere, the Pope was busy performing a really big exorcism.

The rest of the movie is pretty trite, too. For instance, the Arch gets destroyed just like in The Black Hole. Then there's all these stupid subplots, such as one about how governments around the world secretly set up shelters so that humanity could survive, but they gonna let everybody else die without tellin' 'em.

I hate to point this out to the movie's creators, but the negative portrayal of this is pretty stupid. Sure, choosing who lives and dies is cruel and vicious, but it's better than letting everybody die, isn't it? (Not that anybody would have survived an actual supernova; it turned out the Sun didn't explode. Kind of disappointing, really; I'd have preferred that everybody died because they were all so annoying.)

There was also a stupidly predictable plotline with a serial killer on death row (in Australia, where there is not currently a death penalty) escaping and coming after the lady who fingered him as the killer. She shoots him lots of times.

That may have been the best part of the movie (after the Sheppard guy getting vaporized), but I don't know because I'd stopped watching by that point.

Yes, it's that bad. (I don't think I need to establish any further reputation for my ability to watch bad movies at this point.)

-Signing off.

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