Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sunshine

So a new movie by Alex Garland and Danny Boyle, the writer and the director that did such a splendid job reviving the zombie genre with 28 Days Later. This time around they're doing sci-fi. And it's a pretty excellent movie, and it feels* like *proper* sci-fi, not one of your lobotomized post-Star Wars space operas. Not that I have anything against space operas per se, but I do prefer my space travel to be dangerous, terrifying and awe-inspiring instead of some blurry lights that happen on the way between the escape from the clutches of the Murderous Space Prawn and the showdown with Dread Admiral Znorf, keeper of the Sacred Cutlery.

The traveling in this case takes place on the Icarus II, where a team of seven is trying to deliver a bomb that will re-ignite the sun, which is dying for some unspecified reason. Keen observers will notice the II there and deduce that this wasn't the first attempt, and wouldn't you just know it, when they approach the sun they intercept a distress signal from the first Icarus. Of course, they decide to investigate, and things start going terribly wrong. Mistakes are made, people start cracking under pressure, and so on and so great. I'm only really familiar with Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh (who's always lovely to see, btw.) but all of the actors acquit themselves nicely.

Things get muddled in the third act, which is a departure in tone from what came before. Garland wants to make a point about God, but his atheist ideas get filtered through Boyle and his catholic upbringing and it's never really quite clear what they want to say. But I could roll with it though. The atmosphere's great, and the use of sfx is marvellous throughout. Boyle uses cgi to give us quiet bits of awe, like Mercury orbiting in front of the sun, as well 'splodes. I approve.

And whatever you do, do not watch the extended trailer unless you want to know all the plot points going in. Why do companies insist on giving away the entire goddamned movie in the trailer anyway?

*This is not saying that all the science holds up. You can pick many nits, if you are so inclined. It's just noting the difference in atmosphere and what it's interested in talking about.



And as sort of tangent: 28 Weeks Later sadly isn't much cop. There's a pretty nice subtext about how your parents will fail and betray you, and some genuinely awesome bits such as the helicopter butchering, but they get lost in too much shaky cam, contrivances, annoying children and disturbing outbursts of misogyny.