Danny Boyle has tackled just about every genre at this point. He's made a dope poem, a kiddy flick, a romantic comedy, an action adventure, and a zombie thriller. Now, he is tackling the Sci-fi genre with great and natural aplomb. His Sunshine is one of the few films that feels like a true classic this summer, but it's boring "been there-done that" premise might deter some audience members from seeing it. Yes, it sounds a lot like Hilary Swank's dopey The Core, and even a little bit like Bruce Willis' Armageddon. But those were DQ ham and cheese sandwiches, grilled to perfection. This thing is a stirring mix of suspense and f*ck-you-in-the-eye, I didn't see that coming moments that play more like Science fact than science fiction.
It's one true problem? Its goddamn hot outside. And after spending all day in its sultry presence, I'm not sure I'd want to devote an extra two hours to staring at the sun. Seriously, couldn't they have released this in the fall or wintertime? When we would really be missing the sun? When the impact of what these guys on Icarus II are doing would mean more? I've seen the movie, and I know how good it is. Still, I see those posters and that trailer, and I think to myself, "Ick." I can literally feel the sweat forming underneath my ball sack as I type about it.
I guess that's the main reason I really didn't want to see it in the first place. I hate most Sci-Fi movies. And this one looked boring as Hell. I knew, once I climbed inside that spaceship, there would be no Aliens. I knew there would be no Jerry Bruckheimer jump cuts. At the outset, there didn't seem to be anything interesting at all on this big red rocket of love. I'm from the ADD school of improvised action and three second character development. I'm not used to having films take their time with the plot. I guess that's why I found myself so surprised when this tender young thing ripped a hulking bass lure into the back of my skull and dragged me along its quiet creek bed without me knowing it until it was wedged so far in, it was impossible to pull that thing out.
Sunshine is like a dick of fishhook's shoved into a dead hooker's mouth. Its impossible to tear yourself away from the proceedings. Its engrossing like no other film has managed to be this summer. And for that, I am grateful. I personally love the film.
It took a good thirty or forty minutes until I was convinced of its powerful tractor beam, though. The opening is as slow and painful as the original Alien. I've already been subjected to that business a couple of times in various movies, so I didn't need it here. And there was no promise of anything cool happening anytime soon. So, while the film laboriously set up its main characters, all I could do was stare at the background and think about things, like, "Why don't they have a conventional living room on this spaceship? They're in space for a good ten years, they didn't think to bring any books or movies? Is that really Chris Evans? I can't tell. The boy is so nondescript."
Nondescript, but engaging. I'm glad the kid has a soul, and yes, it's him. I like his personality, and it shines through his skin. He's probably my favorite character here. He saved Fantastic Four, and he does a Hell of a good job ripping this thing up out of the ground with all its roots intact. I was glad he came along. Especially since I have such a hard time watching Cillian Murphy.
Is it just me, or is Cillian the creepiest guy out there sticking his face in my movies? I can't stand to look at the guy. He turns my skin pale. And he makes my palms sweat. Sure, he's a good actor, but he looks like cheese on a stick, if cheese on a stick was a dead guy dipped in batter. I don't like him as the lead in any movie. I only like him as The Scarecrow in Batman Begins.
Oh, well. What can I do about it?
Sunshine is essentially about that big "Oh, shit!" moment that gets you fired from your job. That's why it's so relatable. There's one moment that happens in this film that has happened to each and every one of us. A moment where we screw up so bad, we can't possibly fix it. It's the equivalent of working at Burger King and dropping a Whopper on the ground, then serving it anyway. Only, that in no way jeopardizes the whole world. The Japanese guy on the ship, Kaneda, miscalculates the projectory of the Icarus II, and thus puts the whole mission in jeopardy.
What mission? The mission to save the sun. That's what the movie is essentially about. This group of astronauts is going to drop a tiny bomb into the core of the hottest planet and reignite it like a cheap birthday candle.
But Kaneda overshoots the rockets intended destination. It is at this crucial turning point that the events in the movie start to turn sour. We realize why Boyle has taken so long in setting up his main cast of characters. We've gotten to know them for the boring, realistic, everyday human beings they are. Those people on that ship represent us. And we can feel that first mistake like a weight in the chest. We know that the mission is completely doomed from here on out. A thread has been pulled, and soon there will be no sweater.
The thing just keeps unraveling, and unraveling, and that's its inherent charm. Once that first ding is wedged into the plot, I dare you to turn away. Aliens? Ha! That's the least of their problems. The film only goes to prove that one "Oh, shit!" Can wipe out a million, "Atta Boy!"s.
Truth be told, I did have one problem with the film, and that's its villain at the end. I don't want to ruin too much of the surprise, but a stowaway shows up at the last second, and instead of showing us what he looks like, he's blurred in a rubdown of Vaseline. It's kind of gross and distracting. You never get a really good look at him. Ah, well. Them are the breaks, kid.
Now, as a warning, I did overhear a couple of women at the screening talking about the movie afterward. And they didn't like it at all. The one sitting next to me kept checking her watching, and it completely distracting me from enjoying the movie to its fullest. If you are going to spend half your paycheck on seeing Sunshine, make sure you leave the old ball and dog dish at home. She'll only ruin the experience for you. Yeah, it's that manly of a flick. Take a co-worker, or a friend. Or, better yet, just go see it by yourself.
You'll love it.
I give it Five out of Five tiny Joel Siegel hearts.