Friday, July 27, 2007


So we were trying to decide if we were going to follow the lemmings to The Simpson's Movie or pretend to be adults and go watch No Reservations instead, when we saw that Sunshine opened this weekend too. Well, we have to go see that. I mean, whenever someone is attempting a serious science fiction movie, we should go and see it. Maybe we don't see all the zombie movies, but we try to keep up with the serious stuff.

Okay, I hadn't even heard of this movie until like a week ago, and I usually try to keep up with such things. Anyway, the movie got somewhat limited release, so we had to go to Grapevine Mills to see it. The matinee tickets were seven dollars. My usual place only charges three.

Sunlight is about a group of eight astronauts who will have to go and try to fix the sun in about fifty years. The idea is that if you explode this giant bomb inside the sun that the sun will go back to normal and stop dying. So I guess that there are already problems with the movie. Like the sun can't just die that fast without us already noticing something. And I'm not sure about the science of the project, but maybe there could be this super genius guy who happens to have the right idea at the right time. I have doubts about us getting to that level of space travel within fifty years, but I guess if the whole planet pulled together for something really important that we could do it. But I really have serious doubts about the solar shields. I just can't picture us making anything like that in fifty years.

But if you don't go in thinking about the fifty years in the future thing, you can pretty much ignore the date. They are eight people alone on a spaceship and soon out of contact with anyone else. It doesn't really matter what year it is.

I think that the ads for Sunshine tell you that it's first sci-fi thriller of the twenty-first century and compare it to Alien and 2001. If you go in expecting either of those, I think that you'd be disappointed. I would think that it's more like The Event Horizon or Supernova, or maybe Sphere.

I'm going to say that I liked it, but I don't think that it will ever be near the top of my list.

If you'd like to see the trailer --

And now I think that it is time for a *****SPOILER ALERT ******


Okay. Now we can talk.

Poor Cillian Murphy. I think that if I saw this blue-eyed boy I'd run the other way. If he doesn't end up playing a lunatic, he at least ends up being chased by one. He's the bad guy in The Red Eye and he's not so nice in Batman Returns either. I think that I first saw him in 28 Days Later.

Murphy is the genius scientist on the crew who came up with the project idea and built the bomb that is supposed to fix the sun, etc.... Seven years ago another ship (Icarus 1) was sent out with the same plan, but the ship just disappeared and the sun did not get fixed. So when the second ship (Icarus 2) was sent out, Murphy gets picked to go on the mission just in case something goes wrong. There won't be time or resources to build a third ship and try again. Either this works or it doesn't.

One of the astronauts just seems really in love with the sun. Only the computer safeguards prevent him from looking at the sun all day and going blind. Sorry buddy, but you have a job to do. You can blind yourself on the way home if you want to.

The captain often watches a top-secret recording made by the captain of the Icarus 1. They had some trouble with a bunch of really small meteors. They were able to fix the damage, but the captain of the Icarus 1 sounded a little too excited about the whole thing. Not scared, but rather happy.

They are about to pass a point at which they will lose contact with Earth. Their calculations for this were a bit off, and it comes about a week earlier than they had expected. They record final messages for their loved ones back home. One of them doesn't get sent in time, and he takes it out on the genius guy who built the bomb. Not sure why it's his fault, but that's what he does.

They watch Mercury as it moves in front of the sun. It was a cool scene in the movie, but now that I think about it, it's probably all wrong.

They complain about the food. These people have nice food, with fresh carrots and such from the oxygen garden. They take turns cooking, and someone has a problem with the cook. These people are going to be stuck with each other for several years, so someone is always going to have a problem with something.

The lady who takes care of the oxygen garden is happy because they've stored enough extra oxygen to get them to the mission and a fourth of the way home. Not that they even need extra oxygen in storage as long as they have the garden.

And then they get a message that was sent from the Icarus 1 six and a half years ago. Now things get really interesting. If this were the Enterprise, we would now go to the Icarus 1 on the remote chance that there might be survivors and to find out what happened to prevent them from completing their mission, etc.... But this is not the Enterprise, this is the Icarus 2, and they are on an important mission to restart the sun and save Earth. They can't just change course to visit the Icarus 1, even if there are survivors. They don't even get to the part in the discussion about what to do with the survivors if they find any.

But they decide to change course to visit the Icarus 1 anyway. Not to rescue anyone, but to see if the bomb is still in working order. They way, if the bomb on Icarus 2 doesn't work, they can try again.

Great. So the captain says go for it, and they do the math and change course.

And then the alarm goes off.

Okay, the math for the course change was done and re-done and then done a third time before they actually changed course. But, when they changed course the solar shields needed to be adjusted. Not a lot, just one and a half degrees. But someone forgot to do that, so Icarus 2 started losing feathers or something. Everything seemed okay, but they couldn't be sure because the sensors weren't working. Someone had to go outside and take a look.

So the captain decides to do that job himself, but then someone reminds him that the job will require at least two people. Although someone else volunteers to be the second person, somehow Murphy ends up being the second person. I can't quite follow the logic on that one. I'm not sure who on the ship is actually expendable at this point, but I'd think that Murphy would be pretty far down the list.

But out they go, and the ship gets turned at an angle so that they can work in the shade. Turning the ship caused two of their communication towers to melt, and they're upset by this because they're not sure that they can get home in one piece without them. Still it had to be done that way, and it sets off an alarm. Someone turns off the alarm, and so they are not warned about the fire in the oxygen garden until it is too late.

So Murphy and the captain are outside making repairs to four of the plates in the solar shield. And the captain tells Murphy to get back inside the ship and he'll finish the last of the repairs by himself. But the ship has to be turned back the way it was before the captain can escape. And Murphy just stands there at the edge of the solar shield and watches it happen, nearly getting killed himself.

With the Icarus 2 back on it's course to connect with Icarus 1 they are now missing two communication towers and the oxygen garden and most of their stored oxygen. So not only is there not enough oxygen for the seven remaining astronauts to complete the mission and go home, there is only enough oxygen for four of them to complete the mission. The crew member who failed to adjust the shields after he changed course is sedated to keep him from committing suicide, the two women guide the Icarus 2 towards Icarus 1, and the four remaining men go into the airlock and walk onto Icarus 1 and have a look around.

Now I start to have problems with the story. I would have liked it better if they didn't add some of the stuff that happens next.

On the Icarus 1 they find out four important things. The good news is that the bomb still appears to be in good working order. The bad news is that they can't use the bomb because the cooling system doesn't work. And that wasn't due to a malfunction or an accident. Someone did something to the cooling system. The oxygen garden is in good working order and has almost seven years of unchecked plant growth and plenty of oxygen. But everything on the ship is covered with a thick layer of dust, and they find that at least three of the crew committed suicide by sitting in the observation room without any shielding.

Something goes wrong with the airlock on Icarus 1, and they've only got one spacesuit to get back to Icarus 2. So, they put Murphy in the suit, and two of them try to get back to the Icarus 2 by holding on to Murphy. One of them has to stay behind on the Icarus 1 to manually open the airlock.

The astronaut who stays behind commits suicide almost immediately by joining the other three in the unshielded observation room. So what's up with that? If he wanted, he could probably find food growing in the oxygen garden and wait to be rescued. If someone came to rescue him, it would take several years, but it wasn't impossible. I doubt many people wouldn't ultimately choose suicide, but why do it just right then? Wouldn't you have a look around and see if you could somehow send oxygen and other supplies to the Icarus 2? Wouldn't you at least want to live long enough to watch the Icarus 2 complete it's mission?

Murphy gets back to the ship okay. One of the astronauts is then lost in space, while a third one makes it back with Murphy and ends up with a bit of frostbite but seems to be okay. So that leaves five astronauts, and they only have enough air for four of them to complete the mission. So someone is going to have to kill the poor sedated guy who didn't adjust the shield.

Only he seems to have already committed suicide.

Now comes the part of the story that could have just been left out entirely. Freddy Krueger, captain of the Icarus 1, got onto the Icarus 2 while the four men were looking around Icarus 1. God told him not to allow the mission to be completed, and that mankind was supposed to die and he was supposed to be the last man left alive. To make sure that God's plan works out, he has to destroy the cooling system and them kill everyone on the Icarus 2.

He almost gets Murphy, but Murphy gets away and locks himself in the airlock. Freddy manually locks the airlock from the other side and goes off to kill the lady who takes care of the oxygen garden. The other man he doesn't have to kill, because he freezes to death trying to fix the cooling system.

So we end up with the other female astronaut, Murphy, and Freddy Krueger inside the big bomb, which will now have to be detonated manually. I don't like this part very much. The camera doesn't stay focused for more than a few minutes here and there. It seemed for a moment that the last woman might be catching Freddy's insanity, but then she rips the skin off of his arm so that Murphy can get away and detonate the bomb.

And all of this is going on inside the sun.


Murphy has this magic moment after he has detonated the bomb and he can see that it worked. So not only did he survive a trip inside the sun, but the bomb doesn't kill him either. So I don't know what that's supposed to mean. Was that a vision that he had right before he died, or has he somehow become part of the sun?

Anyway, there is this scene of snow in Sydney, but the sun has been fixed and everything will be okay.

I could have done without that whole Freddy Krueger thing. I would have liked it better if some of the movie had been more like Cold Equations. Why couldn't it have just been about deciding who was going to be allowed to live long enough to complete the mission and who had to kill the sedated guy and all of that? I guess I'm okay with the Icarus 1 being destroyed by a crazy captain, but it would have been better if they had just found him dead with the rest of his crew. And I think that even that would have been better if the Icarus 1 cooling system was damaged by meteors rather than the crazy captain. There seems to be a lot of crazy people on these kinds of space missions. I didn't need crazy captain to come over to the Icarus 2 and kill everyone there too. I know that cutting out that part would have made a less exciting ending, but isn't saving the world exciting enough?

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