Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Sunshine

Sunshine is a good old-fashioned SF film, from Alex Garland and Danny Boyle. It's about a ship travelling to the sun, to sort of reboot it with a big nuclear device. It's all the journey of the space ship, with a small cast in a small(ish) set. Compared to most of the garbage that's on at the cinema these days it's a great improvement, and except for the central premise it more or less makes sense; nothing about it was jarringly wrong. In fact it is nice to see a space journey of eight light minutes being accurately portrayed as an immensely difficult challenge which takes several years to complete.

The computer graphics are good and essential for conveying the huge killing forces with which the crew are trying to grapple. The big concern is to keep the huge Shields (physics of these left unclear) in between the ship and the sun. You never forget the immensity and power of the sun.

I thought the film was possibly too edited down. It was 1 hour 40, and I think it could have been extended to two hours or more. Some of the events seemed rushed and I thought we didn't get to know the people as well as we might have. A problem, compared to Alien for instance is that these are the elite of the Earth so of course they are not a bunch of entertaining misfits, but heroic geniuses under a lot of strain. In that respect, more like 2001 than Alien or Event Horizon.

I think those three films triangulate on this one. Almost everything in this film can be rooted in a science fiction tradition - what a computer voice sounds like, the interactions between airlock and vacuum, fire in the hole etc. - which we almost feel is a history of space flight, although none of it has really happened. I thought many of the shots were meant to evoke those precursors, plus Silent Running, Solaris, and even Dark Star.

2001 explains the divine by science (the creator of mankind is an alien space being) while Event Horizon asserts that physics is theology (people are damned to hell for going faster than light). This film is about feelings of awe at the majesty and divinity of the Universe, particularly as embodied by The Sun, but it is an atheist film. In that respect I think it is a riposte to Event Horizon. Many of the characters are struggling with private issues around god and damnation. Interestingly a religious reviewer (Mark Kermode) says that it is religious (that review is worth reading) but I think it aggressively isn't.

Paradoxically that leads to a feeling of deflation at the lack of supernatural resolution - there is no deus ex machina, or zombie ex inferno - the end is the end.
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