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Sunshine (DVD)

Starring: Rose Byrne, Cillian Murphy, The Human Torch and an assortment of other faces you'll struggle to place.

Rated: 15

Story: The sun is dying. A group of astronauts are sent to drop a special bomb into it to give it a jumpstart. They bicker, they chat, they do astronaut kind of things and then they stumble across the remains of the first ship sent to do the job. Rather than getting on with the task in hand, they decide to investigate.

Take a wild guess as to how well that goes...

Comments: A few years ago, a couple of films about astronauts traveling to Mars came out at about the same. I think they were called Red Planet and Mission to Mars but I'm not entirely sure and they were so forgettable that I can't even be bothered to check. They've pretty much blended together in my head. Looks like I'm not the only one that's happened to, though, because mix those two movies with a touch of The Core and a dash of 2001, and you'd have the first half of Sunshine. Throw in a little Sphere and a portion of generic slasher movie and you'd have the second half.

Yep, it starts off familiar and almost interesting and ends up familiar and rather silly.

What with the journey taking months and all the talk of heat-shields and such, the set up is obviously supposed to be more NASA than Star Trek. I somewhat suspect, however, that if NASA had a computer which controlled everything on one of their ships, they wouldn't stop it overheating by sticking it in an OPEN pool of liquid coolant. I hope that someone would think, "Hang on a minute... What happens if the artificial gravity stops working, or there's a depressurisation in the computer room? Maybe we need to look at this again. And while we're at it, let's send enough oxygen with the ship to last for the entire journey rather than faffing with putting a garden in there. Sure, the oxygen will be heavy but, since the bomb is THE SIZE OF MANHATTAN, who's going to notice a few extra gas tanks? And maybe we should teach all the crew members how to set off the bomb. You know, in case something happens to that physicist guy. We could even make it so there's a handy control panel or something rather than requiring a selection of bits and bobs connected together with crocodile clips. And..." The list goes on. (And that's not even examining the plausibility of the central plot device).

Apparently, scientists were brought in to consult on the movie but, as with Deja Vu, they were asked the wrong questions. The details of the bomb are of no interest whatsoever - all the audience needs to know is that it's a bomb that has to go into the sun. That way, it's essentially magic, and we can get on with watching Rose Byrne and some explosions. It's the details of everything else that should have been checked out.

I have to imagine that the primary audience of Sunshine is people with a scientific background. Even the kind of teenage boy who's going to watch this movie is liable to have some clue about space travel. Thus, having a spaceship full of ludicrous design choices is something of an oversight. It's what everyone's going to talk about; it's what will put them off buying the DVD. (Well, actually, the rubbish plot that relies on people identifying danger but failing to call for back up before going to investigate might do that, too, but that's beside the point). It's these 'little things' that should have been run past some science graduates. I don't care how the faster-than-light travel happens in Star Wars or how the Death Star works - I'm happy to accept it. It's the use of 'parsec' as a measure of time rather than distance that grates every time.

Thinking about it, though, Sunshine has to be applauded for at least trying. There are hardly any recent science fiction movies set close to the present day and involving relatively realistic space travel. There's those two Mars films and another couple of movies separated at birth - Armageddon and Deep Impact. Unfortunately, despite the lack of competition, Sunshine still manages to come across as derivative.

I wonder if we'll ever get a space-based film set in the near future that doesn't involve aliens, a rescue mission or the end of the world.

Conclusion: You'd be better spending your money on some energy-saving daylight bulbs - they're great. Sunshine isn't.

Explosions: One or two.
Scientists involved: Not enough.
Similarities to other movies: Quite a few.
Number of crew members whose names you'll remember before they die: Not so many.

Rating: 2/5.

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