A 2000 science fiction film produced by MGM and effects studio Hammerhead Productionnote
. Starring James Spader
, Angela Bassett
, Robert Forster
, Lou Diamond Phillips
, Robin Tunney
, and a pre-Twilight
Peter Facinelli. Voice actress Vanessa Marshall
provides the voice of ship's computer, "Sweetie".
The story begins with the Medical ship, Nightingale
, and its crew — Captain Marley (Forster), ship's doctor Kaela Evers (Bassett), Medics Yerzy Penalosa (Phillips) and Danika Lund (Tunney), and computer expert Benj Stomejar (Cruz). Into this mix comes new co-pilot Nick Vanzant (Spader), a recovering "Hazen" addict. There is tension between Nick and Kaela, as she has a dislike of Nick, as her abusive ex-lover, Karl Larson, was also a Hazen addict.
The ship receives a distress call from an abandoned mining station, and the message is from Kaela's ex, Larson. The crew makes an emergency jump that leaves their captain dead, and the ship too close to the gravitational pull of a blue giant star. When the crew retrieves a pod from the mine, it contains not Karl, but his son, Troy Larson (Facinelli). Scanning the ship, they find an alien artifact that Troy claims to have found buried in the mine.
Whether or not the film squanders
its promising beginning to become a slasher film in space
is debatable. (And whether or not that's a bad thing.
) Director Walter Hill
had his name removed from the finished film (using the post-Alan Smithee
name "Thomas Lee" instead.)
There's also apparently a British Sitcom with the same name.
This film contains the following tropes:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. Sweetie is as nice as her name, and exhibits remorse when being unable to learn fast enough to prevent Benj's death.
- Alan Smithee: the name was retired by the time this film was made, so director Walter Hill used "Thomas Lee" instead.
- Aliens Are Bastards: The alien artifact is a Genesis Effect bomb designed to create a supernova, wiping out any civilization advanced enough to have discovered its hiding place and creating virgin higher-order matter in their place.
- Apocalypse How: At the end, The 9th dimensional bomb goes off, creating a supernova whose wavefront will reach Earth in 51 years...but whether it destroys the planet or creates a Monolith effect is left up in the air.
- Artificial Gravity: the Nightingale uses rotation to create its own gravity.
- Artificial Intelligence
- Babies Ever After: for Kaela and Nick. Averted for Yerzy and Danika, who actually wanted to have children together.
- Blind Jump: Averted; however, even with precise calculations the Nightingale ends up too close to a blue giant star,
- Boarding Party: Of one — in the deleted scenes, Nick uses the real Troy's corpse as a decoy when entering the ship.
- Came Back Wrong: Karl gains super-human strength and healing powers from constant exposure to the alien artifact.
- Captain's Log: Captain Marley keeps a log that's actually his doctoral thesis.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted — Captain Marley states that "if they want to reach the mine within our lifetimes", they need to jump within a certain amount of time.
- Chekhov's Gun: the joke Benj tells about the "creature" formed from the two astronauts sharing the same dimensional stabilization units. Not two minutes later, the captain dies from being in a malfunctioning d-jump unit.
- Also, how Nick and Kaela escape Karl at the end of the movie
- Culture Police: The captain, while narrating his dissertation, mentions that violent animation like Tom And Jerry has been outlawed.
- Executive Meddling: MGM recut AND reshot the film without director Walter Hill's input, and he removed his name from the finished film in response.
- Explosive Decompression: Averted. Danika dies when thrown into space from suffocation and exposure, but does not explode.
- Eye Scream: Kaela manages to nail Karl in the eye with a laser scalpel. It barely even slows him down, and the eye heals in under a minute.
- Faster-than-Light Travel: called "dimensional jump" or "d-jump" in this story.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The death of the Nightingale's captain.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: what happens when when your d-jump unit malfunctions. Poor Captain Marley, we hardly knew ye.
- Also, what happens to the REAL Troy Larson as a result of the alien artifact, in the deleted scenes.
- Hey, It's That Guy!/Hey, It's That Voice!: As noted in the first paragraph.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Anyone who tries to go through a jump unshielded gets warped into a horrible abomination, probably still alive and begging for death. Even two people riding in a shielded pod is dangerous. Hell, normal, single-person travel in a shielded pod is said to be disorienting (one guy complains of irregular bowel movements), and they have to travel naked. The ship's captain dies thanks to a damaged pod, and Nick and Kaela end up swapping eye colors (and some bodily fluids) when forced to ride in the same pod.
- Mr. Fanservice: Peter Facinelli is totally naked a lot.
- Recycled In Space: The movie's premise starts out similar to Pitch Black, but ends up Dead Calm in space.
- Robo Sexual: Benj is just a little too close to Sweetie, the ship's computer:
- Subspace Ansible: Played straight. It takes five days for the Nightgale to receive the distress call from the mining colony, which is over 320 light years away and requires a d-jump to get to.
- Thrown Out The Airlock: Happens twice, in the deaths of Danika and Yerzy.
- Trailers Always Lie: the trailer for the film makes it seem like it's a horror comedy.