Sunday, 30 November 2008

12 hours before crew will be unable perform complex tasks. 14 hours before crew will be unable to perform basic tasks. 16 hours until death.

No 355 - Sunshine
Director - Danny Boyle

Sunshine, Sunshine, Sunshine, Sunshine - Bom diddy deedy.
I do so enjoy that song. It is groovy cool.

But now... to business.
It seems that Danny Boyle may be trying to be a modern Stanley Kubrick.... tackling all the genres. Just take a look at his directorial back catalogue:
The Beach
28 Days Later
Slumdog Millionaire

There seems to be real diversity in his film ideas - so let us take a look at his Sci-Fi...

Sunshine is an odd film as it seems to be in two parts, and whilst the first half is brilliant and really interesting, the second half is fundamentally flawed. In fact, whilst we're on the subject of the fundamentally flawed, lets begin by looking at the premise of the film.

This film is set in a future where the sun is going out so a crew is asked to fire a massive nuclear warhead into the sun and reignite it....
Let us look at some of the key flaws with this simple premise.... (and you can call me nit picky if you so desire.... but there is the occasional moment where you have to question your own suspension of disbelief)
1) Firstly the sun is going out.... now the sun will be going out in about 3 billion years, that is what science has told me.... now although they never tell us how far into the future this is supposed to be, I'm pretty sure it is not 3 billion years time (unless technology has moved really rather slowly....)
and 2) THIS FILM IS SET IN A FUTURE WHERE THE SUN IS GOING OUT SO A CREW IS ASKED TO FIRE A MASSIVE NUCLEAR WARHEAD (the size of Manhattan) INTO THE SUN AND REIGNITE IT.... I know that Sci-fi is a pretty forgiving genre when it comes to outlandish plots but that is utterly bonkers.

However, once you get over the essential bonkersness, you face a very interesting film. The crew have been on a ship for years and face being on the same ship for years to come. Not only that but it is not even certain that they will survive the mission:

To quote Mace, the second in Command of the Icarus II (the ship that is delivering the nuke)
Do I have to spell it out for you? We have a payload to deliver to the heart of our nearest star. We are delivering that payload cause that star is dying and if it dies, we die, everything dies. So that is our mission, there is nothing, literally nothing more important than completing our mission. End of story.

So all of a sudden the rather trite set up for the film provides the framework for an interesting exploration of Team work, sacrifice, the greater good. It is also an exploration of death as people come to terms with their mortality and have to sacrifice themselves for The Greater Good.

So it comes as a bit of a disappointment when the second half of the film becomes a bizarre slasher film as the crew are chased by the captain of Icarus I, a man who gets so close to the surface of the sun only to decide that God has chosen the time for Earth to die, and he shouldn't interrupt. So when a second Icarus arrives 7 years later he decides he has to stop it.... This is where the third massive flaw in the film comes into play. The captain of the Icarus I has been hanging around the surface of the sun for 7 years. The ship has turned off any filtering of the sun's rays (we know this to be true because the viewing gallery is full of the ashen corpses of the ship's crew - who have been ashed up by the mighty mighty sun) so, he has been crisping away in direct sunlight. Yet, he appears to be fine. I mean he is very burnt but it is only 3rd degree burns, not powdery ash. He also seems to be very strong and very fast.

The insane crispy pursuer slightly detracts from the meaningful nature of the first part of the film which is a bit of a shame....

But let us talk about other aspects of the film. Namely, the casting. There are 3 characters who I wish to speak about. Firstly Captain Kaneda who deserves a special mention solely because he played Ryuji in Ringu. Which is my second favourite film of all time and which isn't in the list.... a terrible terrible loss....

Secondly Cillian Murphy. I really like Cillian Murphy because he looks unhinged all the time and he could snap at any moment (Batman Begins and 28 Days Later being two prime examples).

And thirdly and finally Rose Byrne. She is so very very pretty. I mean.... that is all I have to say on the matter. But she is.

Being shallow makes cinema fun!


EK Biddle Esq said...

I liked the style of the first half too, but even that I could never fully immerse myself in due to the radical extent of STUPID PHYSICS.

On top of the failings you mentioned:

1) Suns don't just go out. Ever. They cycle, meaning they shrink & grow rhythmically. Then, eventually, they either explode or collapse. These are the only options available. I suppose it's possible that their might be a body hurtling through space that is bigger than the Sun, that hits it & destroys it utterly... but, just, no.

2) The Sun could run out of deuterium. As you say, 3 billion years too early but I suppose there could be some flimsy argument for it being drained away some how. Probably involving neutrinos. Because I only know enough about neutrinos to think they can do pretty much anything & I probably know as much about neutrinos as most other movie-goers. But STILL, how the fuck do you refuel the Sun! It's denser than anything mankind has ever made & the size of THE SUN. Refuelling it would require firing a store of hydrogen into it that was BIGGER THAN THE SUN. Where can we get that from? Besides even if we had that, a sudden reaction of that scale would probably just make it blow up anyway, or shift position I imagine, if they merged slowly. Then we'd all be royally fucked anyway.

3) Long before (relative to human lifetimes) the Sun "started to go out" it would swell. Lots. Earth would get considerably hotter as the Sun got ever closer & then eventually consumed the first three or four planets before it started to shrink again. Surely the more likely concern is "how do we get away from it?" rather than "how do we put more fuel in?"

It's just flawed on so many levels.

Oh yeah and

4) The crispy killer at the end. Nobody could have been exposed to as much light & heat necessary to do that to their skin without being utterly blinded. Not to mention that the only way he could run around with such severe burns is if his nerves had been destroyed or paralysed. Not much to fear from a naked guy who can't see or feel anything is there? How is he going to find anyone & how is he going to know when he has found anyone? How is he even going to coordinate his movement? Even if he had survived through some miraculous record breaking serious of coincidences & lucky breaks he'd probably just run off that insane little speech of his & then start flopping about like a fish without even knowing what room he's in.

But despite all of this there were bits I enjoyed, which I suppose just goes to show how fantastically well styled it is & that if it had been just remotely sensible &/ feasible that it would have been bloody marvellous.

P.s: If you want to see Cillian Murphy in tip top, unrivalled "unhinged" form watch 'Disco Pigs'.

Lizzie said...

Plus Cillian Murphy is very, very pretty. Which largely makes up for all the plot fuck-wittery.