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Aug 4, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Sunshine

As evidenced by the box office tally thus far, Danny Boyle's latest film, Sunshine, isn't being seen by hardly anyone. That's a shame, for despite its shortcomings, it's really a film that should be seen on a big screen (the bigger the better).

Mind you, the shortcomings are big...but I'll get to those later.

The concept is pretty simple and straightforward. A few hundred years into the future (a date is never given, but it's safe to say that it's a long ways off), our sun is dying, and the people of earth come up with a plan - send a team (or two) of astronauts on a suicide mission to "reignite" the big star with a big bomb.

It's a great concept, and the execution of the first act is impeccable. The action starts off slow, with the audience learning pieces of the story, of the characters and of their ship, the Icarus II, for the first hour or so. Not enough can really be said about the visuals and concepts that the filmmakers dreamed up, CGI or otherwise - the only real comparisons are 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Fountain. At first, I found the swooping shots of the ship - shown over and over again at various angles - to be a bit monotonous, but you slowly get to see more of their surroundings, as well as more gorgeous shots of the dying sun and even a glimpse of Mercury. A sequence that finds two of the crew members working on the ship's shield gives the viewer some long-range shots that, if they were photographs, could be hung on your wall. In addition to the 8 crew members, the Icarus and the sun itself take on co-starring roles, becoming all the more important as the film goes on.

Unfortunately, as the film moves towards its third act, it becomes apparent that the details of the story itself were not so well thought out, or perhaps just thought out poorly (shades of 28 Days Later). Without giving away any details, let's just say that the movie takes a severely misguided detour that runs the train almost completely off its tracks. Everything that had led up to this point - the genre, the acting, the beauty - becomes tarnished and nearly wiped from your memory. I imagine a composer leading his orchestra through a near-perfect, timeless performance, only to begin incessantly vomiting while simultaneously running around and stabbing the members of his strings section. Sure, once the trombonist knocks him out, the horns section may be able to finish the piece and salvage the night, but its already been tainted at that point.

Nonetheless, I still must recommend the film, as the set pieces, cinematography and vision of the future are too compelling not to see. Much like The Fountain, Boyle and his cast have made a monstrously ambitious film, though, while The Fountain fell just short of greatness, Sunshine drops a few more notches short. Just close your eyes when the composer loses his mind.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Concept, cinematography, first and second act, cast, imagination, ambition:

"You're the best...around!"

Twenty minutes of the third act:

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"


"Darn tootin!"

By the way, if you have any desire and/or have been influenced to see this in the theater, you better hurry - it will be vanishing soon, if it's not gone from your local theater already.

Also, a note on the cast, since I haven't really mentioned anyone. Aside from the typically engaging Cillian Murphy, Cliff Curtis (seen also in Live Free or Die Hard) and Chris Evans (of Fantastic Four and Not Another Teen Movie fame) stand out. Michelle Yeoh also turns in her standard good performance.

5 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Sunshine"

Ms. Go said...

I forgot all about Chris Evans! He being the voice of reason somehow just doesn't jibe right with me, but you're right.

He's been a consistently engaging actor despite the deceptive surfer-boy looks of Paul "Two Expressions" Walker.

Matt said...

I had the exact same feelings about Sunshine. It had a ton of promise but Danny Boyle just couldn't resist falling back on the same methods that worked for him in 24.

And I've always liked Chris Evans since Not Another Teen Movie. Anybody that can pull of a whip cream thong is aces in my book.

Steve said...

The reviews have been pretty bad - glad I took your advice and saw the movie anyway. Good flick - except for the one character who messed up an otherwise great film.

Frank the Tank said...

JTFC that orchestral analogy was disturbing. Did you witness a sousaphonist mauling your father when you were just a baby?

Fletch said...

JTFC that orchestral analogy was disturbing. Did you witness a sousaphonist mauling your father when you were just a baby?

Had to think of a strong enough analogy to bring the point home about how horrendously stupid a turn the movie takes.

Glad it worked. :)