Sunshine

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Culture, Visual

Sunshine1

After reading and hearing a bit about this movie, I finally decided it was time to check it out this weekend.

The film has been talked up as one of the better Science Fiction movies in recent memory, so I came to it with rather high expectations. Perhaps that was a mistake, because when I think of films like 2001, Solaris, Stalker, and so on, it’s almost setting myself up to be disappointed.

The first two-thirds of this movie were good. Unfortunately, you can tell that a lot of it is quite derivative. But the film is knowingly an homage to a variety of other movies and sources, so that isn’t a fatal flaw. We have a commanding officer, Kaneda, most likely a reference to the Kaneda character in the Akira manga. We’ve got a seemingly esoteric psychologist named Searle, possibly named after the philosopher, visuals that are highly reminiscent of 2001, and the list goes on.

The fault I found with this film is in not going anywhere. Here we have an epic plot, the death of our Sun, tied in with human struggles and some thought provoking ideas. But it doesn’t go anywhere thematically. It’s inconsistent, and even though everything we see might make narrative sense, there’s no closure, nor even a thought-provoking open-endedness. Instead what we’re left with is a jumble of pieces that could have made something amazing, but instead merely make something passable.

Spoilers.

I largely enjoyed the first two thirds of this movie. I did think that, by the time Searle died, that we’d seen too many deaths. There was a sort of morbid fascination with the details of characters dying that I didn’t enjoy, and the music choices seemed a bit off to me.

It was obvious to me that something would cross over from Icarus 1 to Icarus 2. After all, it’d completely defy expectations to visit the other ship if that wasn’t going to happen. And, when first introduced to Pinbecker, he seemed like a fascinating character. But instead of developing him, he instead becomes a generic monster stalking the hallways of the Icarus 2. At this point, the film became less Science Fiction and more generic horror with science fiction trappings, like Event Horizon. Disappointing.

By this point the director’s overt morbidity and choice of harsh music for the soundtrack made a bit more sense. There’s even a fight sequence in an environment that can only be described as Cube-like. I can’t help but feeling like there are at least two movies here, one that focuses in on the astronauts in their mission to save the human race by reigniting the Sun, and another that focuses in on the psychological/philosophical/supernatural elements of a character like Pinbecker. As it stood, we get about two thirds of the former, and maybe a tenth of the latter before it degenerates into a confused mess of blurry camera movements with people dying and explosions everywhere. The ending tries to strike some note of an epiphany before killing off all of the characters, but because it’s such a mess it just adds to the confusion.

2 Responses

  1. I’m happy you posted this- I’ve been meaning to give this movie a look, but I HATED the ‘can’t-decide-what-kind-of-movie-this-is’ aspect of Event Horizon. Looks like ‘Sunshine’ is similar enough that I’ll pass.

  2. Yeah, if you didn’t like Event Horizon (I thought it was okay, but neither particularly good nor bad) then it’s probably best to stay away from this movie.

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