Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sunshine (2007, Danny Boyle)

For the first hour or so, I was seriously thinking this was going to be Boyle's best yet. The film does a splendid job of portraying life on a long space mission like this- the human chaos resulting from people cooped up together for long periods, the small pleasures each crew member finds, the things that can go wrong, and how they have to be fixed. And there's enough interesting character business to make them interesting and even sympathetic- for example, the way Cliff Curtis takes time out to look at the sun in the observation deck, and the way his skin is a little more burnt every time we see him. Unfortunately, the awesomeness can't last. For some reason, Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland decided that it wasn't dramatic enough to show us a mission beset by technical woes on its way to detonate a nuclear device into the sun. I'm not sure why they felt it necessary to turn the third act into a slasher movie, in which a sun-charred survivor of a previous, lost mission finds his way onto the ship and begins killing in the name of God. It just doesn't work, and frankly I don't think I've seen a movie shoot itself in the foot so grievously since BATTLE IN HEAVEN. What happened, dudes? How do you start out shooting for 2001 only to end up aiming for EVENT HORIZON? On a more positive note, the cast is good, but it's more than a little surprising that the film's most interesting performance is given by Chris "Human Torch" Evans, who starts as the requisite jocked-up American but ends up as the one who's most fully committed to the mission. Way to grow, bud. Rating: 6 out of 10.

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