Monday, November 09, 2009


This was not a bad movie.

No, really!

I’m a sucker for psychological horror in spaaaaaaace and this was a prime example of that. It’s not a great movie, but it was... entertaining. This may have been because I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from it.

The conceit behind Sunshine is ridiculous, of course. If you’re watching a movie for SCIENCE you should probably just… stop. The premise is, hey, the sun is dying! Humanity launches a manned spaceflight to save it! By launching some sort of superior nuclear physics-thing bomb into the sun!


This is why it took me so long to see this movie. How utterly stupid, right? I haven’t seen The Core either, and I was leery of this damn thing turning into the ridiculous gore-fest that was Event Horizon. I’ll take crappy science over crappy, nonsensical gore any day (I found Sunshine far creepier than Event Horizon, actually. It's all about what you don't know and what you don't see. The more gore, the more ridiculous the movie, for me. I prefer subtlety).

But, see, Sunshine had what a lot of crappy-science movies don’t have: an excellent cast, great effects, tight and suspenseful direction, AMAZING soundtrack, and wonderfully creepy shenanigans. All that… in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

And who doesn’t love adventures in space?

The cast included Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh, which gives you an idea of how seriously (B+/A- movie actor seriously) the cast took it movie. And trust me, that helps. It reminded me a lot of alien in that way – you put a strong cast and creepy direction into a lost in space movie, and you can carry it a long way.

The cast was reasonably diverse, split pretty evenly between white and Asian characters (tho at the end of the day, it was still white guys saving the world and fighting each other. The captain, psychologist, and navigation guys all check out pretty early. And the female characters only seemed to make it so far into the movie so somebody could be menaced at the end – would have preferred it was the navigation chick who got frozen to death trying to save the ship instead of held off til the end so she would go down with the male lead, but - you win some, you lose some).

Overall, it was a well-paced movie right up until those last 10-15 minutes, when things got weird. And yes, in case you’re wondering, in a movie about a group of people who are *restarting the sun* there are a LOT of moments where you just have to let them handwave-handwave their way out of things. Like how the fuck is he hanging onto the ass-end of a spaceship whose rockets just went off must be ignored… and there are lots of cut-aways of even more improbable scenes like how he then opened up the airlock and crawled inside while the rocket boosters are STILL GOING OFF (and let's not get started with the whole "oxygen garden" business, or the space walking suits, or the ridiculous observation window).

But if you liked Pitch Black, I think you’ll like Sunshine. Good cast and a lot of fun so long as you don’t think about it too much. I rate it slightly better than Babylon A.D., mainly because the ending to that fucking movie was about on par with Padme’s “lost the will to live” bullshit. I will make many allowances for my SF popcorn, but empty vessel female characters are not one of them.

5 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I just couldn't take this one seriously. It just got progressively sillier, and Laura and I were cracking up at the climax.

Kameron Hurley said...

I had to COMPLETELY IGNORE THE "SCIENCE." In fact, it would have been a much better fantasy movie.

J. and I both loved it. It speaks to my love of claustrophobic settings and the old "hell is other people" trope.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, it seemed like it ran out of ideas after 10 minutes and kept upping the ante to make for it. I wasn't really feeling like it was under control in any way.

Claustrophobia and "hell is other people" is fine, but I was too busy trying not to crack up to get any of that. Not just the science, but the whole... shambling leper prophet of doom thing and everything else. There was just so much random stuff that the outbursts and tension between crewmates was just kind of abrupt and didn't really flesh out for me. Like, "loud noises! Fighting! Rawr! Stop it you guys!" and I'm like, "ok..."

hwbowen said...

I really liked this one! The last stretch, as you say, was batshit, but the flick was _gorgeous_ to look at, and it turns out that goes a long way with me.

I feel the opening voiceover put the viewer on notice that the science was not to be taken seriously, even one little bit, and that if one ignored that warning and attempted to expect sense, one deserved whatever one got.

Kameron Hurley said...

Yes, it was like eating popcorn drenched in buttery topping. Very little nutritional value and yet, still so delicious!