“The only certainty is the uncertainty; the only thing you expect is the unexpected,” said Diva.
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Adapting a book with unique complicated story-telling like Dewi Lestari’s Supernova: Ksatria, Putri & Bintang Jatuh—claiming to bridge all disciplines, most notably science, let’s say, quantum physics, psychology, and literature—is never a trivial task. Especially, if the book is a best-selling and having devoted die-hard readers with their own imaginations of the story. Yet, Soraya Intercine (studio known for exuberant adaptation of 5 cm. and Tenggelamnya Kapal van der Wijck) confidently appoints director Rizal Mantovani (Kuldesak, Jelangkung, and Kuntilanak trilogy) to manifest the complicated structure, complex dialogues, and abstract enigma into a single 2-hour movie.
I am personally a devoted reader to Supernova series and I’m always amazed with the presentation of the book—with multiple POVs from multiple dimensions, trying to manifest the perplexity of sciences into a bizarre love triangle with tons of footnote to explain some terms. To see how components of the book transferred into a motion picture and to see how the motion picture accommodates every single aspects of the book, that’s the only reason I watch Supernova. The result?
To my surprise, the movie turns out becoming a faithful adaptation to the book. Scene per scene and every single dialogues are taken entirely from the book; I wonder how the script is—a carbon copy of the book? It opens with the Washington D.C. scenes, singularity finds a manifestation in Reuben (Arifin Putra) and Dimas (Hamish Daud) to reveal their true identity to each other as they take a vow to write an opus in 10 year times—depicted exactly as it is in the book.
10 years flow, no more Washington D. C., only its reminiscent living inside Reuben and Dimas, now a couple. The deadline to their opus approaches, once again singularity finds them, to write their sci-fi romance of the titular characters in a bizarre love triangle involving the Knight (Herjunot Ali), the Princess (Raline Shah, Emily Ratajkowski from Indonesia), and the social perception.
To make it clear, there’s nothing wrong with the visuals; director Rizal Mantovani is a savant to this matter. Once again: there’s nothing wrong with the aesthetic departments—Supernova is enhanced with splendors, beautiful panoramic scenery, and lavish production design. To make it clearer, there’s nothing wrong with the ensemble of casts (although I hesitated in the beginning), except Paula Verhoeven in portraying Diva, who should be a epicenter to the plot. Yet, I don’t know why, but this movie is not audience-friendly, not for the purist, not for the common. Why?
The most obvious thing to criticize is the decision to make the movie talkie—the dialogues are copied and pasted directly from the book along with the complexity and ravel. The thing is, most of the time those dialogues sound rigid and unnatural—to the extent that most of it sounds comical and finally annoying. To make it worse, the lack of chemistry between the casts is terrible, making the grandiloquent dialogues no sense at all. Then, one question appears: why should the actors talk very close to each other? Is there any significance? For tolerant purist, that thing is understandable, but for common people (who haven’t ever read the book), the whole thing in Supernova is an abstract, enigmatic thing.
Now, strip all the fancy dialogues and luxurious design off, then the movie is completely bare naked—left to nothing but a generic cliche. The main focus of the movie is the drama part of the book, the romance in the alternate universe about the Knight and the Princess; yet, the sci-fi part is left undeveloped. Leaving only the drama, Supernova falls into cliches; it loses the essential parts of the book—the juxtaposition between the interweaving sciences with a romance. In the book, Reuben and Dimas’ part is strong, revealing every decision made by the Knight et al reasonable with paradox like Schrodinger’s cat, theory of chaos and order, soliton waves and stuffs; but, with the diminishing of their roles, Supernova loses one side of the coin. It leaves the rectoverso paradigm of the story gone with the wind.
In addition, the whole third act of the movie is completely a random act—trying to wrap the entire drama in the movie with touch of surrealism, trying to convey audiences that Supernova bears sci-fi elements. Yet, it’s completely lost—it provides no solace at all. Wish that the movie ends 20 minutes earlier to save it from its own paradox. Supernova’s being too ambitious it forgets the ground and loses what makes the book special.
VERDICT: Supernova convincingly delivers the drama part of the novel, but neglects the most essential part of it—the juxtaposition of the dramatic romance with the interweaving scientific matters. Seasoned with lack of chemistry and highfalutin dialogues, Supernova looks comical if not for its mesmerizing visuals and production design.
Supernova: Ksatria, Putri & Bintang Jatuh (2014)
Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Adaptation Directed by: Rizal Mantovani Written by: Donny Dhirgantoro, Sunil Soraya based on a novel by Dewi Lestari Starred by: Herjunot Ali, Raline Shah, Fedi Nuril, Arifin Putra, Hamish Daud, Paula Verhoeven Running Time: 136 mins