Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two Last Best Hopes are Better than One

Sunshine directed by Danny Boyle

Last week I made one of my infrequent trips to the actual movies in the actual movie theatres. The movie in question was Sunshine, the latest from Danny Boyle, director of 28 Days Later and Trainspotting. It had received an unenthusiastic review from the Sydney Morning Herald by someone whose knowledge of sci-fi began with Star Wars and ended with Alien, so I took that as a good sign.

The plot: for some mysterious reason the Earth's sun is going out (yes really) and a team of spacefarers is sent to fix it with a huge big fuck off bomb [manly grunting noises]. At this point most sci-fi aficionados will be shaking their heads and remembering such staggeringly moronic desecrations of the medium as Armageddon or The Core, but if you bear with it it pays off far better than you'd expect from such an inane premise. Like Alien, 2001 or even Red Dwarf the story fixes on a small group of people trapped in confined and stressful conditions. Like Blade Runner or Cube there are no aliens or way out freaky goings on so once you're past the highly implausible setup it's a very down to earth (so to speak), character driven film.

And it's just fucking great. The film winkingly acknowledges it debts to sci-fi films of the past with numerous references to the films I mentioned in the previous paragraph (although not Red Dwarf, but Babylon 5 is accounted for (see title)) especially to 2001, which is an obvious source of inspiration. It more than lives up to its ancestors, inheriting their focus on the human condition in spite of the fantastic setting. The view of humanity it portrays isn't exactly flattering as there isn't a single human character in the movie who doesn't fuck up pretty bad at some point or other during the film, but it is sympathetic, and it paints a highly affecting portrait of people facing the end, either of their lives or of the world, or more likely both. However the message it promotes is that silly creatures like us, with our morbid fascination with our own destruction (surprise, the name of the spaceship is Icarus II, and the phrase 'staring into the sun' gets a thoroughly literal workout several times during the film) perhaps invite this fallibility by deliberately sabotaging ourselves. Coincidentally it perfectly complements Nine Inch Nail's new album, which I've been listening to fairly constantly for the last week and a half.

Great film. Highly recommended.


Joel said...

I might actually go and see it then. The silliness of the plot made me dismiss it, but if the rest of the movie is decent then it looks quite pretty.

Favourite Year Zero song?

Mine's God Given :)

Jon said...

Yeah I don't think you'd regret seeing it.

Favourite track is Zero-Sum, followed by Capital G... and The Good Soldier... ah fuck it the whole album rocks.