George Hamilton, Space Ranger
Sunshine (2007, Fox Searchlight, 107 min, color)
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland.
Fifty years after the Bush Economic Stimulus Plan saved Planet Earth's economy from perpetual depression a funny thing happened.
The Sun became a dying star.
Snapshots suddenly looked dreary even when flash-enabled. Favorite celebrities began sporting ashy, wan complexions on late-night TV.
People of Earth suddenly abandoned the crisis of global warming and climate change. They sent a team of astronauts aboard a fully-rigged spacecraft (Icarus, get it?) on an ambitious mission to deliver a very big bomb (a bomb as "big as Manhattan") aimed right up dying star's asshole in hopes to rekindle, invigorate and massage. Earth would be saved from under-exposed photos. Demand for Ray Bans, Coppertone and other fun-fair products might perhaps reach pre-21st century levels.
Things begin to go horribly wrong for our astronauts after a fly-by boost orbit of planet Mercury (apparently Mercury was in "retrograde" motion during the maneuver). First there's a fight over who gets to use the internet to phone home via a process similar to Skype.
Lesson One: Never design a sophisticated interplanetary spacecraft without adequate internet connections. People become testy and prone to panic. Like those poor folk in Vladivostock in the 60’s, queuing up at the local tundra post office to make collect long-distance calls to western-based relatives only to be advised by authorities the lines are down and they must use the more expensive RCA Cablegram.
Innocent people become injured. It isn’t pretty...
After the ruckus over cable access, a distress signal (similar to but quite inferior to early Milton Babbit) is received over the “Icarus II” system-wide loudspeaker. (Good Morning, “Icarus II.” Today is Interplanetary ‘Save Your Ass Day.’ We demand all your asses to participate in the auditorium at 11 am.”) The signal is determined to originate from the first mission to reignite the Sun. Surprise! Yes
there was a predecessor spacecraft, “Icarus I,” but it went awry because of a dial-up internet connection from AOL.
The cast decides to triangulate the AOL-enabled spacecraft for a visit just to say howdy and maybe enjoy a solar-powered bar-be-que shindig, but in the process manage to take out the most vital navigation system. As an encore they accidentally disable an equally-vital life-support system shielding their spacecraft from aggravating solar temperatures, sunburns, melanoma and a few freckles. (Oh, what a disagreement over download speeds and premium channels can do to people sharing a space.) Attempts to repair shield are successful but result in the loss of only sentient cast member (besides navigation computer).
When cast from “Icarus II” reach earlier “Icarus I,” they find it empty except for the dusty debris of its inhabitants. They, apparently, chose mass suicide by solar-induced fricassee rather than participate further in the screenplay.
They were lucky. This screenplay commands dangerous territory.
Do you remember the dissatisfaction experienced after viewing “Berserk” with Joan Crawford? I do. I remember it very well. To introduce the Diana Dors character (Matilda) in the last 35 minutes of the screenplay was the undoing of what could have been a very good picture. Not that I mind Diana being a tart thrill-seeker and a psychopath. It’s the timing. She ought to have been featured in the first reel.
I experienced the same feeling of disappointment viewing “Sunshine.” Thirty minutes before the conclusion of Mr. Boyle’s opus we meet the hitherto unmentioned former commander of the “Icarus I” mission who resembles our Matilda from “Berserk.” Thrill-seeker and psychopath. Maybe a tart as well.
But we can't see him clearly enough because of bad CGI process, so have no clue as to whether or not he’s as much of a looker as Diana Dors. Or if he has big tits.
Somehow the “Icarus I” commander teleports himself over to "Icarus II" where he runs amok and begins ranting and cutting up the remaining cast in a way reminiscent of those slice-&-dice grind-house epics of the early 1980’s. How he might possibly teleport himself using a dial-up connection is in itself suspect. Still, for all “Icarus I” might lack in tech infrastructure it possesses ample cutlery. It sports the latest Ginsu knives (vis-a-vis NASA’s longstanding contract with Fingerhut).
Confession: I did not finish this movie. For all I know the nameless former commander of “Icarus I” might have brought the broadband connection up and running like a cat’s purr. He didn’t look so good when we turned off the DVD player, perhaps from multiple melanomas. Or the heavy sunscreen that flakes off when applied indelicately. Does SPF 25 mix properly with blood? That might have something to do with it.
Thank you Keith. That was a very interesting presentation, and I'm sure we all learned some valuable lessons about how bandwidth-hogging in near-Solar orbit can lead to homicide. Unfortunately, since you didn't include the no doubt stupid and incoherent ending, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you an Incomplete for this assignment.
However, since you worked Joan Crawford into your science fiction movie review, and mentioned Diana Dors' breasts twice...
Could THIS be our space killer?
...I'll let it slide just this once.
Anyway, Class, please welcome our newest contributor in the comments, and let him know how you feel about space, boobs, and jump-starting the sun with uncomfortable-looking actors who clearly thought, based on the title and director, that they'd signed on for an arty film about LSD use in the Scottish Highlands.