Monday, April 27, 2009

Movie review: Sunshine


Danny Boyle's Sunshine is a movie where a group of astronauts and scientists are on their way to the sun to deliver a bomb that will restart the dying star. It is set in an ambiguous but seemingly near future. Seven years before this group was sent another ship, Icarus I, was sent and failed to restart the sun. They are determined to get the job done.

The movie starts out quite realistically. The science doesn't seem too far fetched once you swallow the premise. The acting is uniformly good. The film has a very interesting visual style. The roasting hot proximity to the sun is well depicted. As you might imagine, the mission does not go according to plan, so they wind up dealing with a variety of crises, including the discovery of the first ship orbiting the sun. They decide to dock with it so that they will have a second bomb in case the first one doesn't work. This decision isn't perhaps the most well thought out but it is not too outlandish.

The real problem happens after they dock with the Icarus and discover that they can't use that ship or its supplies. The alteration of plans has been a waste. Worse yet, a psychopathic survivor from the first mission manages to infiltrate the Icarus II and starts killing people off one by one. All of the sudden, we go from a serious psychological sci fi drama to a space slasher film, including the space monster chasing around the young female officer. This turn is especially egregious since the crew who investigate the Icarus I talk about how they shouldn't split up because the space alien will pick them off one by one. Poking fun at a cliche and then incorporating it into the story only highlights how low the storytelling has fallen.

I'm tempted to listen to the commentary track by Danny Boyle to see if he acknowledges in any way if and how much of an error this is, or he has some sort of excuse for the dumb ending. History doesn't show much promise: Ang Lee didn't apologize for his incredible "The Hulk" catastrophe and Bret Ratner didn't for the bad ending of "Red Dragon." Maybe ignorance really is bliss.

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