My brother, Goose, and I decided to hit up the movies for a custom double feature last Saturday. For those of you who have chosen to see two movies in the theater on a Saturday night, with about 25 minutes in between, this experience has a lot going on. It’s disgusting, in that you’ve spent roughly 5 hours of your life drinking soda, and eating those terrible nachos, or Snow Caps, or Twizzlers, or those salted pretzels.
The big upside, of course, is that you get to see 2 movies in one evening. The secondary upside is this: normally, if one were to enter your standard AMC Regal theater and order their ungodly “large” soda, one would be handed roughly a gallon of high fructose corn syrup con agua, and told by the unsmiling attendant that refills are free. To which you, a normal human, would laugh loudly, perhaps wondering aloud, “Who the shit is going to finish this much root beer and be physically able to go back for more?” Well, when you’re at the theater from 7PM till after midnight, the answer to that question is you. Or rather, it is me. The answer is not, however, Goose, because Goose had to pee after the movie, and didn’t consider the fact that, once he “went” he’d be once again able to take in more soda.
Moving on, we cover the 2nd part of the double header, SUNSHINE, which both Goose and I wish we could have watched first.
SUNSHINE is the latest Danny Boyle film. Boyle is the man who directed TRAINSPOTTING and 28 DAYS LATER and MILLIONS, which I have not seen, but have heard lovely things about. The movie takes place 50 years into the future, in a world in which the sun is dying. In order to save the Earth, scientists create a special kind of nuclear bomb that, if dropped into the sun, would, essentially, jumpstart the thing. This bomb, a massive thing, was strapped a huge spaceship, called the Icarus. When a spaceship gets close to the sun, the solar radiation prevents the ship from sending messages back to Earth. Sometime after the Icarus came within that distance of the sun, the mission was believed to have been failed. The sun, it would seem, was not reignited, and no one knows what happened to the ship, the bomb, or the crew.
The movie begins aboard the Icarus 2, seven years after the disappearance of the Icarus 1. The 8 crew members are aware how critical their mission is. That the success of their mission supercedes the necessity of their survival. Despite this, there are obvious tensions. It’s a long and lonely way to the sun, and a slow march to a possible death is taxing on anyone. Individually, various characters are dealing with this stress in their own ways. The ship’s psychologist, Searle (played excellently by Cliff Curtis) spends a lot of his time on the ship’s observation deck, looking at the sun as brightly as he is physically able to do. Mace, played by Chris Evans (who is much better here than he is in FANTASTIC FOUR), keeps up with maintenence. Corazon, played by Michelle Yeoh, keeps the “oxygen garden”, which, as you can guess, is a room with a whole lot of ferns. Capa and Cassie, played by Cillian Murphy and Rose Byrne, spend time together chatting, as Capa fine tunes the bomb.
The first 2/3 of the movie deal with how the various characters deal with the contrast between their responsibilities and their fears, concerns, and lonelinesses on the mission. The plot, however, is driven by their discovery of the original Icarus, emitting a distress beacon, slightly off course from their route. They decide to divert their course, to check for survivors, and to find a second bomb, in case theirs should fail. This, of course, proves to be a mistake.
A movie like this one has a severly limited number of options with what it can do, at this point, in order to further the conflict. Maybe the original Icarus was attacked, or the ship malfunctioned. Maybe their was mutiny and sabotage. Maybe their are survivors, maybe their are not. SUNSHINE, goes the thriller route. With the decision to head for the Icarus 1 come a number of problems, and some very serious danger.
It’s a beautiful movie, and well acted, even if the story and script don’t have much room to roam. Worth seeing, for science fiction fans.