Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Exfanding Review: Sunshine

Sunshine DVD coverIf you've been following the animated exploits of Weebl and Bob, you most likely know that they've teamed up with those Cadbury Creme Egg chaps to create a series of movie parodies featuring said eggs. Their latest endeavour is called Gooshine, a parody of the sci-fi thriller Sunshine.

Now, I like to be "in the know" when people parody and make references to movies, and I had never heard of Sunshine, so I borrowed it from my local library to see what it was about.

It was about an hour and forty-five minutes. This is one of the most favorable things I can say about this movie.

The premise: Earth's sun is dying, so a spaceship filled with people is sent to blow up and rejuvenate the sun with a huge-riffic bomb, thus saving Earth from certain freezation and death. ("Freezation." It's a word. Found next to "huge-riffic.")

The problem: A peaceful trip to the sun and back is boring, so all sorts of stuff needs to go wrong and people need to die to make the movie more interesting.

The real problem: There came a point where I just stopped caring.

I knew from pretty early on that I wasn't going to care about the characters: in retrospect, I suspect the only reason any character development happened at all was to foreshadow a conflict that was to come or the way that somebody was going to die.

Sunshine castThe one character I actually liked? First to die. I had to resort to liking two other characters to get me through the movie, one character because he was the most rational remaining crewmember and almost had some depth to him, and the other character just because she was kinda cute.

Proven fact: If you don't care about the characters, you root for cute. Especially if the alternative is kinda creepy to look at.

Creepy Blue Eyes looks through a windowThat might not have been so bad, though (the lack of character development, not the creepy face), because I've watched and enjoyed plenty of movies where I didn't care much about the characters. Y'see, that's where the "Ooh! Aah!" factor kicks in; if the thrills, visuals, and ideas are impressive enough, then the characters can get away with being unlikable or inconsequential.

I'll admit that Sunshine is very pretty. Panoramic vistas of space, very shiny and realistically futuristic spaceship interiors, some cool special effects, and good use of lighting (I mean, c'mon, it's the sun--how can you mess up blindingly bright light)? But pretty only goes so far with me.

Staring at the sunI took issue with the stupid actions of a few crew members (without which we would not have conflict) as well as the bonehead oversights of the people who built the spaceship that was mankind's last hope. Sure, I predicted a few of the big plot points as well as who would live and who would die--and how--with rather excellent accuracy, but I'm not sure whether that means the movie is predictable or that I'm just that good.

Sunshine didn't really surprise me, but I guess there's only so many ways a movie can go when you've got a small crew trapped on a ship where everything is going wrong. Nevermind that half of the science was all wrong; it was pretty enough that it at least wasn't a total waste of my time--until they decided to switch genres.

I suppose I should have seen this coming: all of the previews that played before the movie were for horror films. I'll try to keep this vague so as not to spoil anything, but as the movie gets closer to the end, something happens that shifts Sunshine from being a sci-fi suspense movie into being a horror movie in space. And a pretty weak one, at that.

Creepy Blue Eyes runs through a corridorI called it, too, but I kept hoping, "please turn out differently than I'm expecting," and when it didn't, I started hoping, "please don't continue on with this for the rest of the movie," and when it did, I started hoping, "please let them fail their mission so that Earth is doomed to certain freezination--that's the only plot twist that could redeem this movie."

And that's about the time when I stopped caring. Actually, it may have come much sooner, but that's when I fully realized it. It could have been an okay sci-fi thriller, but it ended up being a cheap survival horror film with a big budget.

If Sunshine sounds at all interesting to you, do give it a shot, but shut it off at the first sign of dislike or disinterest--it probably won't get any better for you.

[Images from www.imdb.com and www.sunshinedna.com]

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