Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sunshine (2007)

I never again want to hear the line "He's insane! He's going to destroy the mission!" in a movie that intends to be taken seriously.

Danny Boyle bugs me. He makes movies about things that I generally like - greedy people killing each other (Shallow Grave), isolated survivalists (The Beach), cataclysmic zombie attacks (28 Days Later), featuring strong actors, music, and cinematography - then mucks them up with shallow thematic development, dumb plot contrivances, and dreadful third acts. Sunshine is more of the same, returning to his common theme of small groups of isolated people inevitably self-destructing. It starts well, with a crew of eight scientists and astronauts on a mission to 'reignite the sun' (whatever that means). Then they decide to check out the seemingly abandoned remains of the first ship to attempt this mission.

Of course, the movie reveals itself as boneheaded as soon as one sleepy astronaut explains to everyone that the reason alarms are going off is because when calculating their complex course correction to head to the other ship, he forgot to program in an adjustment to the ship's heat shields - and this poor, overworked dude becomes responsible for (spoilers!) pretty much everyone's deaths, in the first of many contrivances that shows that the filmmakers don't have much concept about how a real space mission would work. Brian DePalma's Mission to Mars is a dumb movie in a lot of ways, but one aspect it got right were the nuts and bolts of realistic space travel and how missions work - with intricate planning, checking, double-checking, and redundant cross-checking to make sure that something important - like the heat shields, on a misson to the Sun - are pointed the right direction.

Of course, that's a fairly minor point by the end of the movie, when it turns into the sequel to Event Horizon and a Kentucky Fried Madman is chasing the crew through the ship and stabbing everyone. There's some strong imagery and the movie is sort of entertaining, in a dumb, pulpy way, but Boyle is fooling himself if he thinks he's following in the tradition of Kubrick or Tarkovsky.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you for the most part, Jeff. But, I would say that the movie does a good job of being a more realistic sci-fi film for that first hour. I liked the way they logically came to the conclusion of getting the second payload. But, the ending is as terrible as we should all expect from a Danny Boyle flick. Cool blog, Jeff, I'll definitely check it out again.

-Noah Forrest

cjKennedy said...

Ok, I went into Sunshine expecting the worst and came away rather surprised.

I was so absorbed in the tension and the psychology of the characters that even the unlikely naked space jump didn't bother me too much (at least the guy wasn't completely unscathed).

On the surface I can see how the gear (genre?) shift at the end could be jarring, but I was so focused on what drove the guy crazy in the first place that it didn't trouble me.

I know what it's like to get ripped out of a movie at a certain point and then to sit there the rest of the way calling bullshit on the whole thing and I think that happened to a lot of people with this movie.

Somehow for me though, it sucked me in and worked on me.