Ah, when director Danny Boyle and actor Cillian Murphy get together... MAGIC! When Cillian and Christopher Nolan get together... Batman. Or, film in between Batmans! Will the Scarecrow be back for the final installment? ...apparently not. As long as it doesn't jump the shark the way Spider Man 3 did. Man, that was SO bad, they had to go and remake Spider Man 1! Erase Tobey Maguire from the Book of Spidey!
But, I digress again. On to the sci-fi genre. Tis a tricky business to get right, this whole sci-fi racket. You need a good plot and great special effects to get in the Blade Runner league. Movies don't proliferate as quickly as books do. The last time I was in a bookstore, a used bookstore, I couldn't help but marvel at the literally thousands and thousands of sci-fi books out there. Almost as numerous as the Harlequin novels! How does one distinguish itself from the pack? How does one make the cut to become a movie? Obviously, better minds than mine are hard at work on these various philosophical dilemmas.
Well, depending on how you feel about the movie, you're either going to go easy or go hard on the very plot of the whole enterprise. SPOILER ALERT. Here's the deal: the sun is dying, and a crackerjack crew of eight is flying a spaceship to the sun with a bomb in it... We'll leave that alone for a second. Needless to say, things don't go smoothly. Same reason the door of the "ark" in 2012 doesn't just close up and everything's okay. Why, you'd have to shave about 30 minutes off the running time of the movie! Sometimes you gotta just go with the 2.5 hour pseudo-epic. Sunshine's a little more streamlined than that... but it's still not free from the gravity of, let's call it "homage" to its sci-fi brethren, upon whose mighty shoulders it stands. One of my viewing companions compared it to 2001, only without all those smelly apes. And I suppose one could say that the crew looks like a Calvin Klein ad. Thankfully, Michelle Yeoh throws off the average age of the crew, and I guess Cillian does as well, to a lesser extent. I couldn't help but think of 2000's much-maligned Supernova, but clearly the stakes aren't as high here. And, of course, Solaris, but I fear that Sunshine's not in the same league. Also Silent Running with the plants. Lots of sci-fi movies beginning with S!
I hate to spoil any more details of the film, as I want the rest of you to suffer as I have suffered, but I did appreciate the cinematography of old, and by old I mean like Outland: big Panavision with lots of lens flares 'n stuff. As it turns out, there's only one cinematographer in the biz better than Stephen Goldblatt, and that's Peter "Spota" Hyams himself. Go figure. Or maybe it just saves on the budget. The one moment in Sunshine that I unequivocally liked, of course: when the girl says "We've got an outbreak of excessive manliness on the ship." And, being a Danny Boyle film, there's the occasional flash of deep, philosophical dialogue, mostly courtesy of the villain at the end. So, remember, kids: the more philosophical you are, the more crazy you are, too!
But I'm afraid I can't let go the plot holes of the basic science of this sci-fi film. According to the DVD jacket, the sun is dying in the year 2057, about 45 years from now. Apparently, the catastrophic environmental crises we face here on Earth are SO powerful, they've radiated back to the sun and caused the sun to start dying. Well, this was made during the Dubya administration, so all of Hollywood's products were a little more dour than, say, under the Clinton administration. But I still believe that the sun will last a bit longer than 2057. I've heard about 4.5 billion years longer. But I'm in favor of any expensive suicide mission into space. Superman IV happens to be on the table here next to me, and who knows? Maybe all the world's nuclear weapons in a giant net would cause the sun to fail, making the expedition of Sunshine necessary. Maybe we can all learn from the mistakes made by the crew in this film. GOTTA RUN!!
Good double bill with: Solaris, Supernova
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan