Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine (2007)
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis

If someone were to tell me about a science fiction movie called Sunshine, I would tell them that I would pass on watching it.  To me that sounds like a low budget horror science fiction movie about the sun getting a mind of its own and starting to rain vengeful rays of sunshine upon us all.  Or it could be a romantic science fiction about two astronauts who look into the sun…and fall in love.  But the real movie is far from either of those.  After all my stipulation about what the hell this movie could be about, I decided to watch the trailer for it.  The trailer is what really brings the audience in.  I had been looking for a good sci-fi movie to watch because I was on a role of watching very entertaining sci-fi flicks.  The first was Pandorum (2009) and then I re-watched Event Horizon (1997).  Pandorum had a “twist” ending that made it worthwhile, and I laughed once again at watching Event Horizon.  I made up a tag line for that film that fits it perfectly; “The crew of the USS Event Horizon built a hyperdrive, a hyperdrive that could go faster than the speed of light.  They just didn’t know that this hyperdrive would take them….to Hell.  Come watch Event Horizon this August and prepare to take a trip…a trip…to Hell.”  You have to add the accent of the movie announcer guy to make it hilarious.  So after I watched a classic sci-fi and a newer sci-fi, I was looking around for another one.  A friend suggested to me that I watch Sunshine, and that’s where our story begins.

The preview was actually done very well.  It didn’t give any plot away as movie these days are prone to do.  It used the theme song from Requiem for a Dream, and I think that a lot of previews like to use that song to grab the audience’s attention.  The first line we hear in both the movie and the preview is, “our sun is dying”.  A brief but descriptive line about why the movie exists.  Walking into this movie, you can’t think about the science of it.  A lot of people just can’t stand the fact that sci-fi movies aren’t real.  But if they were, they would be incredibly boring.  Think about the two main issues with space films: Gravity and Space being a vacuum.  Realistically, we have no technology to create artificial gravity on a ship (although 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) suggested a very interesting method).  Apollo 13 (1995) used zero gravity, but one would need a huge budget in order to create that effect.  Most of the expenses come from the use a large aircraft that has the set built into its fuselage and flies in a parabolic pattern, which causes a freefall effect and thus zero gravity.  Then we have space as a vacuum.  If a ship were hit, there would be no fire in space.  Fire requires oxygen to propagate, so if a ship were hit by a “photon torpedo,” you wouldn’t get to see much.  Which brings me to my point: who cares?  We’re watching a movie, not a documentary on a set of astronauts that saved us all by restarting the Sun.  If you can’t stand the fact that they’re ignoring the laws of physics; then get used to it, because it happens all the time.

Now that we’re passed the real life comparisons, let’s move on to the actual movie.  Danny Boyle once again does a great job directing.  The plot was interesting to me because you don’t see many of these types of sci-fi.  The film industry went through a phase for awhile about missions to Mars and I’m sure that because of Avatar, there’ll be newer sci-fi’s about ships going to other galaxies.  So a sci-fi about a Mission to the Sun was pretty out there for a science fiction.  Though, I wouldn’t necessarily call this movie a science fiction; I’d actually refer to it as a Pseudo Religious Sci-Fi Horror.  The Science-Fiction Genre is kind of a given seeing as how the film is about a space ship traveling to restart the sun, but I’d like to focus on the Religious and Horror aspects. 

Whether you agree with me or not on some points that I make, you have to agree that this film has major religious attributes.  The sun becomes a metaphor for god to some key characters in this film.  They only differ in the way that they interpret it.  If someone feels connected to a God by staring at the Sun, then I’d say, “Good for you!”  However, Boyle does a great job in interpreting how these people feel connected to it.  You have three central characters that perform these light purifications.  You have the ship’s Captain, the ship’s Psychologist, and the crazed Captain from the other ship.  Each of the three people represents the extent of religion here on earth.  Respectively you have the devout worshipper, the preacher of the gospel, and the religious fanatic.  The Captain is really the only one who is directly “purified” by the Sun.  He ascends to “heaven” by direct exposure of the Sun’s rays.  The Psychologist explains at the beginning of the movie what the Sun means to him and he brings the Captain unto his belief.  Before the Captain dies, the Psychologist has the utmost need to know what he sees.  To him, he wanted to know what "heaven" looked like.  In the end he sacrifices himself just so he can glimpse upon the Sun.  Finally there is the crazed Captain.  He kills for the Sun.  He sees himself as an angel sent to stop all others from destroying what was “set in motion”.  In my opinion all three are great examples of how Religion is performed in our age.

The Film surprises you on the sudden horror attributes it has.  For one, you don’t expect a guy coming onto their ship to try and kill them all.  You don’t expect to the antagonist of the film to be a man whose skin is melting off.  The whole atmosphere of the film starts out pretty bright, and as the film progresses, the atmosphere becomes darker and darker.  I found this ironic seeing as how they were getting closer and closer to the sun, but it adds to the intensity of the plot.  In those dark points of the film you have the bright points when the religious characters purify themselves through the filter.

The film has an interesting lineup of actors, among them Boyle uses Cillian Murphy again (He cast him in the 2002 horror film 28 Days Later).  Cillian Murphy is an up and coming actor in my opinion.  For instance, he’s shown up in some major films since his major role in 28 Days Later.  Among these there are notable films such as Cold Mountain (2003), Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010) and Tron: Legacy (2010).  Interestingly, he has taken out his British accent and replaced it with the one that we’re all used to in all the movies since 28 Days Later.  The thing I found entertaining in his character was that he was supposed to be playing a brilliant physicist, but it really didn’t show. Boyle also uses Chris Evans (Fantastic Four (2005), The Losers (2010), and the upcoming Captain America).  Chris Evans’s character was the only one that actually cared about their mission to the Sun.  It seemed like everybody else didn’t base their decisions as well as he did.  It was surprising seeing him play a role where he wasn’t playing:
A)     A Jock

B)     A Superhero

C)     Some type of Comedic Relief

 The rest of the cast was pretty typical, and included one more big name actor; however I will leave it up to you to see if you can recognize him.

This seems like a movie that I would enjoy watching in high-def.  Even in standard definition, the views that they render of the sun are pretty fascinating.  I never really imagined what the surface of the sun would be like, however they create a very intriguing look at how the surface would look.  The film definitely offers a lot of impressive visuals, and I would almost see the movie just for them alone.

A message for Fans:
I understand the debate people have on movies like this.  Some fans of science fiction can’t stand how movies don’t account for their science.  A bit of advice; just go with it.  It’ll be worth it in the end.  You should enjoy the movie for the same reason that Trekkie’s enjoy Star Trek.  Because it’ll never happen in our life time and this is what we get.

A message for non-Fans
If you hate science-fiction then I wouldn’t say that this isn’t a movie for you.  It has many different types of messages in it so it can be enjoyed for more than just the fact that it’s about a space ship going to the Sun.  Try and watch it the same night you’d watch a horror movie, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Topics to Discuss:
Religious Aspects of the Film
Characters
Science of the Film
Other Sci-Fi’s this reminds you of
Danny Boyle movies

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