2012: Supernova (2009)
Directed by: Anthony Fankhauser
Starring: Brian Krause, Heather McComb, Najarra Townsend, Allura Lee, Alan Poe, Londale Theus
The Asylum would obviously have been remiss in their duties if they hadn’t attempted to cash in on the hype surrounding Roland Emmerich’s 2012. They did so with 2012: Supernova, which manages to offer not only the threat of global devastation but spices things up with terrorists, randy hillbillies and drunk scientists. Hold on to your hats, folks — we’re off to Asylumland.
Two hundred years ago a supernova exploded somewhere in the Lyra constellation. Now the lethal burst of radiation is headed straight for Earth, and time is swiftly running out. The only thing standing between humanity and complete devastation is astrophysicist Dr. Kelvin (Brian Krause), who heads up a project to save the planet.
As the movie begins, Dr. Kelvin is awakened by news that a radiation burst has reached Earth ahead of the projected schedule. He quickly gets his wife Laura (Heather McComb), who appears to have a really rotten morning temper, and his daughter Tina (Najarra Townsend) into the car and heads for the NASA base where the mission HQ is situated. Barely have they hit the road before they’re assaulted by terrorists of a Middle Eastern persuasion. Two armed men chase the Kelvin family into a warehouse, demanding to know what Dr. Kelvin is up to with the nuclear warheads he has been shipping into space for the past months. (Best sequence: The Kelvins make their getaway in an 18-wheeler, driving it all of 40 yards before realizing they’re in a dead-end alley.) At the last moment, Dr. Kelvin’s boss arrives out of nowhere, along with some agents who kill the terrorists.
Two of the agents are assigned to keep Laura and Tina safe, while Dr. Kelvin himself is whisked off to the base where his two international colleagues are already at work. Dr. Kwang Ye from China is an attractive but somewhat aloof woman, while Dr. Dzerzhinsky of Russia is a buffoonish stereotype with a weird accent (and line delivery), getting drunk on vodka as Dr. Kelvin walks into the control room. Dr. Dzerzhinsky’s role in the project seems to be to tell the others that the deadline just got a few hours shorter. Honestly, that’s all he does for the entire movie. To underscore the urgency, we’re treated to a series of intercuts as the main supernova blast (see image above) passes through the solar system. (Best sequence: The blast blows Pluto into great big chunks.)
The plan, it seems, is to protect Earth from the radiation by detonating lots of nuclear bombs in space. The details are a bit vague, but if I’ve learnt anything from watching too many cheapo disaster movies, it is that there is just about nothing that can’t be solved by exploding some nukes. The bothersome bit is that Dr. Kelvin himself has to go up to the space station to deploy the bombs.
While dad is busy saving the Earth, mom and daughter have various bizarre adventures out in the great wide-open. The approaching supernova radiation is apparently causing all kinds of upheavals even before its arrival. First, the agents assigned to protect the girls are killed when a huge boulder crushes their car during an earthquake. Then, a freakish lightning storm hits. Then, they meet a big fat hillbilly who wants to get a bit too friendly with pretty Tina. Then, a tornado turns up out of the blue. Laura and Tina take shelter in a rickety-looking little building. It seems that the tornado is about to rip the flimsy building to shreds, but luckily the girls are saved by a timely fade-out.
All the while, dad encounters problems of his own. Not only is the radiation moving faster than expected; he also has to deal with a masked saboteur who sneaks around the airbase, physically assaults him and tries do derail the project for some reason that is never made very clear to the viewing audience. Despite his troubles, Dr. Kelvin, along with his international pals, manages to take a shuttle up to the space station in order to set off the warheads. With just a few minutes before the wave of radiation hits, it turns out the saboteur is also aboard the space station…
Yes, it’s a thrill ride to the very end. And yes, I’m being a little bit ironic.
The plot of 2012: Supernova follows just about the same template used in Megafault: family gets separated during major crisis; scientist parent heroically saving the world while other parent and child survives various dangers; lots of unsafe driving. (Best driving sequence: A car ahead of our heroines gets hit by lightning and careens off the road. Instead of just driving straight ahead on the open road — the easy and safe alternative — Laura decides to avoid the crashed car by steering off-road herself and drive around it on the outside, through bushes and debris. ) In my opinion, the even sillier twists and turns of this story makes the film more entertaining than Megafault, which I found rather boring. As for ”better” – no, not really, they’re both pretty ridiculous.
This is the kind of low-budget effort where the world feels kind of deserted, probably because the producers didn’t want to spend too much on extras. I’m guessing that is one reason for the disappointingly low body-count — apart from the two agents we don’t see anyone at all die as a consequence of the natural disasters wrecking the planet (we don’t really see the agents either, only the car they travel in). The visual effects are acceptable for a low-budget production, and however stupid the story is, it keeps moving forward at a decent pace with more action and less standing around looking at monitors. The acting is all over the place, but you gotta love the incredibly intense look of Londale Theus (who plays some kind of boss at the NASA base).
So yeah, for the crap connoisseurs out there, this is one you might enjoy. Anyone searching for a real, decent movie should look elsewhere.
A supernova to do any harm to Earth would have to be about 29 light years from us. The one in the film is 200. I’ll have to watch it to see how inaccurate it is.
I’ve never seen an Asylum film from beginning to end, but I know their reputation. But wow, it sounds like their grasp of science sucks!
Assuming that the threat comes from deadly radiation from a dying star, we would never know about the threat until it’s too late. All radiation, including light, travels at roughly 168,000 miles a second. Radar, which uses radiation, wouldn’t be effective at all. All telescopes see into the past, as it were, and not the future. We don’t have any equipment (yet) which uses a radiation which travels faster than the speed of light and the only other way I can think of that could serve as an early-warning system would involve time travel.
It’s unlikely that the radiation would, even if detected, would speed up!
One fine morning, we could wake up, and find planet Earth was bathed in a gamma ray burst. And until then, we would never know.
Now there’s a disaster story!