Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sunshine on an overcast day

Posted from Phys. Rev. X:

Sunshine is a new sci-fi film directed by Danny "Trainspotting" Boyle and written by Alex "The Beach" Garland and last night some of us went to see it. The flim follows crew of a second attempted mission to reignite the Sun, which has (for a probably best unexplained reason) stopped working properly. As a bunch of (astro)physicists (including one solar physicist) going to see a film about the Sun dying, naturally we're going to find a few holes to pick in the science, but mainly we were just hoping to see a good film. I could write a very long post with all the factual problems with the science in the film, but being factually correct isn't the main point of most popular sci-fi as the setting is just frame on which you hang the film. The main point of the film was to focus on the psychological effects on the crew as they passed into the zone where the intense solar radiation meant that communication home was no longer possible - wait a minute this zone appeared to start outside the orbit of Mercury, but we can easily recieve signals from there! No, I mustn't start on the nitpicking - and also how they dealt with being humanity's "Last, best hope" (Babylon 5 anyone) for salvation.

As far as eye candy went the special effects were great. We were treated to many majestic views of the spaceship, the Icarus 2, backdropped by the tremendous, yet terrifying and mighty, Sun. The film ramped up the level of crazy throughout, and this was generally well acted. There was a fair bit of distorted camera effects and angles, and mildly subliminal images towards the end of the film, which didn't, for me, enhance the film or serve any purpose. You were left more with a feeling of "What!?" than "oooooohh...aaaaaaahh..." at the end.

Overall I enjoyed the film as an entertaining spectacle, but was left rather flat by it. I wasn't really moved by any of the characters to care about any of them. I wasn't even particularly bothered about the success or failure of their mission considering its grand goal was trying to save all of mankind. Sunshine didn't give you the all out action and fun of something like Armageddon, which serves it's purpose as a bit of fluff sci-fi very well, but it also didn't give you the darkness, or real psycho craziness of something like Event Horizon. It sat somewhere inbetween and didn't quite satisfy. A modern film that does the etherial, going a bit mad, aspects of space quite well is Solaris, which just lulls you and kind of washes over you (that said I watched it on a plane, so was fairly spaced out myself) as it doesn't try to give you a big heroic saving mankind theme. But if you want proper sci-fi of the kind that this was trying to be then you can't beat a bit of 2001.