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So Let The Sun Shine In (5 Months Later…)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What does it say?  YOU JUST DON'T KNOW!!Danny Boyle‘s one of the best and most versatile out there right now. He nailed the Hitchcockian with Shallow Grave, worked dark junkie cool with Trainspotting, rocked a zombie apocalypse in 28 Days Later…, and even got all sweet n’ sentimental in Millions. Nary a lost suppository to be found in that last one, let me tell you.

And now he’s dipped into the hard science fiction. The real stuff, the kind with all the questions. The kind that considers how human beings would handle the situations that just don’t come up in regular life. Sunshine is the story of an astronaut crew shipped off to jump-start our dwindling Sun, and it’s pretty awesome. I’m not gonna be all spoilery, but if you’re so uber-sensitive you don’t want to know anything about a movie before seeing it, if you’re gonna wanna wait until you’ve seen it to read this, then you’re gonna hafta wait until September, because that’s when it comes out in North America.

The big motivation of Sunshine — gotta drop a big-ass nuke into the Sun — is something of a mcguffin, but a very well-integrated one. It gives a good sense of desperate urgency to the proceedings (desperate because they don’t even know if this is gonna work), and it does feed the Big Theme of the movie. But ultimately, the purpose it serves is to get this crew of eight headed towards the Sun. Because Sunshine is a meditation on the Sun itself — on the one hand it’s the source of all life, but on the other hand … holy shit, is it ever a big ball of nuclear fire.

Hemorrhoids are not pleasant, let me tell you.

Just look over some of the Sun’s stats and you’ll get an idea of the building awe as the crew of the Icarus II gets closer and closer. It is a powerful, incredible monster up there, which Boyle and new BFF writer Alex Garland (apparently they got along well when Boyle made the film version of Garland’s novel The Beach, even if it didn’t turn out especially great, because this is the second film Garland’s written for Boyle, along with 28 Days Later…) deal with in a variety of ways. You have the tense action scenes, some moments of deep character introspection, and best of all, a number of visuals of solar glory, just great, new impressions and perspectives of the most powerful object fathomable.

Two Cillian Murphy pics -- it's like the Sophie's Choice of Internet movie reviewing.It’s interesting how Boyle and friends deal with the conventions of deep-space scifi. The ship itself is a comfortable, functional design, but not really showy — it isn’t trying to be unique. None of the future technology on display is especially innovative, but it’s not presented as though it’s supposed to be, with only a couple of exceptions (most notably the sun-protective space suits they adorn So I'll just use them both.  Man, if there's any source of heat that can rival the sun...when they go out for a walk). But despite this, it never feels “done before” either, because again, these are not the point. The Sun is the point. I’d also add a couple of points for the music, by John Murphy and Underworld — it’s been tough finding really effective deep-space music (without the Star Wars bombast) since Kubrick mined the classics for 2001, but they really pull it off.

Laides and gentlemen, the man who brought you the word 'shite'.I do have a bit of a gripe with the ending — they try and crank up the tension in a way that I don’t think was really needed. Actually, it’s a very similar gripe to the one I have about the climax of 28 Days Later…, in that it’s a bit of a detour, one that follows a perfectly reasonable path from the topic of the story (well, reasonably reasonable, in Sunshine’s case), but just isn’t as compelling as the topic itself. But that wasn’t enough to spoil 28 Days Later, and it’s certainly not enough to spoil Sunshine.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a guy who finds what he’s best at and sticks to it, but there’s something great about a guy who likes to dip his toes in all rivers, especially when it works out as well as it tends to for this particular guy. So, Danny Boyle, what’ll it be next? Period drama? 3D CG celebrity-voiced animals musical? Rob Schneider comedy? Whatever it is, I’m on board. Though if recent Internet rumours prove true, and you are looking to finally repeat yourself by directing 28 Months Later…, I will not look down on you for it. laebmada

Unfortunately for all, Robert Carlyle visited the set just as craft served bean cassorole.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, April 24, 2007 7:19 am

    I saw the preview for this a couple months ago, and it got me all hot under the collar. In a good way.

    Now your review (which I didn’t read in full, natch) has further increased my anticipation. It’s always exciting when intelligent directors focus their attention on science-fiction. Good sci-fi is so hard to come by these days.

  2. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 7:49 am

    He’s been in a complete downward spiral since Trainspotting, so hopefully he’s regained his form here.

  3. Tuesday, April 24, 2007 9:02 am

    Dude! 28 Days Later was amazing. Scared the crap out of me. Not literally though, cause that would have been gross.

    And it was shot on video (most of it anyway).

  4. Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:07 am

    You know, if a movie ever literally scared the crap outta me, well that’d just be the best movie ever, wouldn’t it? But you’ll have to forgive James, graeme. I think he had some kind of trauma to the part of the brain that lets you appreciate 28 Days Later.

    And Millions is really good, and also there are these two digital short films Boyle made for the BBC which I saw at the Toronto Film Fest one year — “Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise” and “Strumpet.” The former was very entertaining, and the latter was amazing. There ain’t been no downward spiral, no sir.

    “Strumpet” starred Christopher Eccleston, too. Danny Boyle’s got all his regulars, those guys he keeps bringing back. Eccleston, Robert Carlyle, Cillian Murphy, and once upon a time, Ewan McGregor. Which tends to be a good sign, for some reason. He was also the one who first introduced us to all these guys, so points for that.

  5. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 12:31 pm

    Excuse me? 28 Days Later was visually interesting, but the script was bad and the movie as a whole was disjointed.

    Millions was just awful in every way shape or form. I think you’re being clouded by your reverence of his earlier work here.

  6. Tuesday, April 24, 2007 7:44 pm

    Clouded? Clouded?! Sir, you’ve offended my delicate sensibility. I challenge you to a duel!

    My responses are thus: why don’t I drool over The Beach or A Life Less Ordinary? And then I give my lunch money to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes to get them to back me up.

  7. James17930 permalink
    Wednesday, April 25, 2007 10:43 pm

    ^ Wow — IMDb and RT sure got it wrong on that one.

  8. Saturday, January 12, 2008 7:10 pm

    Just saw this. I thought it was very good, except for the crazy, psycho, sun-burnt guy who sabotages the mission. I figured the movie was going to go crazy at the end, but I don’t think it had to do so in such a horror-movie kind of way. For a movie that was trying to be fairly realistic, the psycho-sun-dude was completely out of place. I would have gone along with it had he not been super strong, or burnt beyond what is humanly possible.

    That said, thoughtful, and artistic sci-fi movies are a rare breed, and this one was mostly good, but it seems like Boyle and Garland are still a bit fixated on the whole zombie thing…

  9. Saturday, January 12, 2008 8:30 pm

    I think they were trying to get a human manifestation of the whole “power/madness of the sun” kind of thing. Thematically, it works. But practically, not so much.

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