So, where did it all go wrong? What exactly is Sunshine‘s big problem?

Could it be that it manages to be derivative of just about every superior sci-fi movie of the last 30 years? From 2001 and Silent Running up through Alien to even Event Horizon? Good god, no. Most film works on conventions and cliché. None so much as this particular genre. The real trick is to work with those and create something new or at least compelling enough. Not everything can (or has to) be Blade Runner.

Is it the bad science? No, no, no! This has to be the biggest convention of all sci-fi. Half the fun is buying into the internal logic. And, to be honest, they don’t come any more preposterous than this. (Second earth mission to drop a bomb into the sun and kick-start it. Like a solar cpr.)

The fact that the cast seem to have been selected purely for their looks? It’s like Dawson’s Creek in space on that ship.
OK, all Cillian Murphy has got to do is sit around, look gorgeous, try and come across as a bit geeky and breath heavily. Which is all a bit of a waste. But, it’s a pretty good ensemble cast. With a particualry lovely understated performance from Michelle Yeoh as the Bruce Dern of the ship. Although, I could be biased there. In fact even the firey bloke from the Fantastic Four turns in a pretty good turn as the is he/isn’t he bad guy on the ship. (Although, that doesn’t get played out enough, IMO.)

The ad slick styling of it? Much has been made in the publicity for this that Danny Boyle has stuck to the low budget methods of 28 Days Later to be able to bargain with the studio high returns for as much artistic freedom as possible.
And the fx take as much advantage of the fact that we can only really imagine what these realms of space will ever be like to be quite spectacular. Well, some of them are. After yet another scene that we were very obviously meant to ooh and aah at I was really wishing they’d just get on with it and introduce the killer alien, or all turn on each other or whatever was due to happen. In fact he tries this so many times that you actually start to spot when the same loop is being used.

But, hey, we can always rely on the small(ish) budget film to give us atmosphere and – as must be for this kind of thing – claustrophobia. This should be a piece of piss. Boyle attempts to achieve this with extreme close up after extreme close up. And, the obligatory shoogley camera. It took me ages to put a finger on exactly what it ws reminding me of. There’s a cinema ad for Southern Comfort where a bunch of backpackers get on the train to Prague instead of Barcelona. Hilarity and “responsible drinking” ensues. The camera work and ambiance on this film are identical. Seriously, check it out next time.

And then, he tries to get clever. Wherein he mistakes a sense of confusion for being out of focus. All of which seems a bit pointless. A just real sense of lacking (or lack of focus? ) in the way this has been made. Despite the efforts of the excellent (if too quite – I wanted BOOM!) Underworld soundtrack.

What’s it’s big problem? It’s just not very good. For a film that certainly has plenty of ideas, it just doesn’t really seem to have any idea.


Written by Tony Kiernan

19 April 2007 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Film

%d bloggers like this: