Living in the UK, I was able to see SUNSHINE in the cinema last week. In its first week, it's sitting an admirable 4th at the box-office, behind BLADES OF GLORY, 300 (obviously) and for reasons unknown, MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY (which I'm sure will get massacred anywhere outside of the U.K).
For those of you who are not aware, it's worth noting that the release date for SUNSHINE in the U.S.A. has been pushed back to TBA 2007 (To Be Announced), so perhaps the cut you see won't be the cut I saw. However, I'm fairly confident that tinkering won't improve SUNSHINE to the point where I change my mind about the movie, because to be honest, I think this sucker needs a complete re-write of the second half.
PLOT: 50 years into the future, the sun is dying. A team of astronauts is sent to re-ignite the sun with a bomb, but this mission ends in failure. Now, a new team has been sent to attempt to succeed where the previous mission failed, and hopefully, to save mankind.
CRITIQUE: It's not often that I feel so completely overwhelmed by the second half of a movie that I reverse in absolute, my opinion of it as a whole. Up until a point that I'll talk about later, I was completely into this movie, I really liked the soundtrack, I liked the cast (Rose Byrne is gorgeous) and even though Danny Boyle directs like he's on Crystal Meth a lot of the time, I liked the way it was being directed (until a point). It was never going to be - as I'm sure Boyle and Garland like to think - the new 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but it was certainly showing promise. If nothing else, the movie looks great. However...
My basic problem with the movie was that the entire second half of the film was absolutely ludicrous and completely unnecessary. Because I can't talk about it without spoiling the movie, I'll have to skirt the issue and say that there is a very precise plot point (which is cool for about two seconds), that after which takes over the film and ruins it. Although this is not to say that SUNSHINE was a masterpiece before Garland raped his screenplay, the movie is populated by characters - except for Chris Evans' - who all seem to be of mediocre intelligence (at best) and completely forgettable. At least two of them are morons. And these are supposed to be the eight chosen to save humankind? Cillian Murphy's character, Robert Capa - who I imagine is supposed to be the star - could have died within ten minutes, or spent the remainder of the mission taking a piss against the inside of the shuttle and it would have made very little difference to me or to the story.
The thing is these guys don't really do much. They press a couple of buttons and sit around a table and that's about it. It's literally like THE REAL WORLD but in space. It's no wonder Michelle Yeoh's character discovers the problems with oxygen levels - she's got nothing else to do, since her responsibilities seem to extend to taking care of the little on-flight garden. Perhaps the film suffers from too big a central cast, but more likely I think it suffers from too many special effects and dazzling shots of deep space and/or the sun. If (and this is a big 'if') there was intended character development, It seems like it was jettisoned for a really sweet visual of a guy looking at the sun with his sunglasses on. Because I swear, we must have seen this at least four times.
But what did I like? Despite what I've read of people's opinions of the soundtrack, I thought it was fantastic. Don't be fooled into thinking the movie has a crap score, just because they used Clint Mansell for the trailer: that's just because putting the REQUIEM FOR A DREAM score in a trailer is like putting money in your pocket. And even though for seven out of eight of the main characters I cared as much for my feces as I did for their well-being, I was fairly touched when one of the characters kicked the bucket. It was pretty sad.
I can easily suspend my beliefs and ignore logic for the benefit of a movie. Is it a legitimate premise that the sun could be dying? And if it were, is it feasible to think a nuclear warhead could reignite it? And if it were why would the vessel even require a crew? And had we tried this and failed once before, would the greatest minds on Earth really decide the best course of action would be to repeat the exact same mission? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I can go along with it. I can even deal with the physicist on board deciding it would be a great idea to take mankind's only hope for survival and run an intergalactic errand. The problem is just that by the end of the movie as a viewer I'm being bombarded by so many ridiculous scenarios and there's only so much I can make peace with. I would say don't bother checking this movie out at the cinema, but the thing is if you're going to see it at all, it should probably be on the big screen, because the visuals deserve it, even if nothing else does.