TF Issue 198: Is It Just Me? Sunshine...
On page 145 of TF issue 198, Matt Glasby asks:
"Is it just me... or is Sunshine the best sci-fi flick of the century?"
Here are a few excerpts:
Sounds like a stretch, right? Then consider the following. One, the competition is either the gorgeous-but-dim Avatar and Prometheus, or the impressive (given the budget) Moon. Two, its influence can be felt everywhere, from that Carling advert which equates heaven with a rubbish nightclub to John Murphy’s stirring score adorning every other trailer. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget reason three: it’s absolutely freaking awesome.
Danny Boyle’s hyper-visceral direction means you feel each atmosphere change – the burning sun, the freezing coolant, the choking space dust – as if you were aboard the Icarus 2. Alex Garland’s script is characteristically sharp and brutal, making plot points of the crew’s gnawing boredom. How often do you watch a group of film characters die and only remember their deaths? Here you remember their names, (Capa, Mace, Kaneda), their roles (physicist, engineer, captain) – even the things they love. “The waves make me feel peaceful,” says the bellicose Mace (Chris Evans) as he takes some time out in the Earth Room simulator. The inclusion of an Oxygen Garden (greenhouse) so the ship can generate its own air supply is another genius detail: Nasa should take note.
The filmmakers also deserve credit for using an international cast of (excellent) actors from as far afield as Malaysia (Michelle Yeoh) and Japan (Hiroyuki Sanada), accents and all. It’s the future, the fate of the entire world is at stake, yet every other space flick would just feature a bunch of WASP-y Americans with an English villain. Indeed, the chief criticism here is that when the space-crazed – and English – Captain Pinbacker (Mark Strong) turns up, the film turns, briefly and shockingly, into a psycho thriller, and loses its way. It’s a fair point, but most sci-fi flicks are only this, nothing more.
Crucially, Sunshine has the looks to match its brains, something nobody could claim for, say, Avatar, which remains one Unobtanium molecule short of a full set. The still-unsurpassed CGI is so gorgeous both the crew, and the film, are stopped in their tracks by Mercury pirouetting impossibly round the sun. “In the face of this,” says Pinbacker, “we are dust, nothing more.” It’s hard to disagree.
And herein lies the key. Moon can be boiled down to: “Don’t go into space with Spacey.” Avatar: “Be excellent to one another.” Prometheus has two: “Don’t fight aliens with geologists,” and “Don’t let things crawl up you.” But this is a film that’s actually about something: the nature of sacrifice, the human race’s capacity to destroy itself, the quasi-religious powers of the sun. It’s an entrancing light show about the entrancing possibilities of light, in genre that’s still stuck in the dark ages. Or is it just me?
Issue 198 of Total Film is on sale 31 August 2012.
Agree? Disagree? Have your say below - a selection will be printed in the next issue...
The one reason this sci-fi movie works so well is due to the fact that it's got a believable story line. Instead of relying on alien interferences to give the audience it's thrills, Sunshine uses a variety of tense moments throughout that can easily be related to. Even the main villain Pinbacker is only a human being that's a little crispy on the outside and crazy on the inside!
I like Matt's style, and his argument has substance. Sunshine is definitely ********** and undervalued. When put against the rest of the dreck released since 2000, it comes up very high. I think it all boils down to whether you like it more than Moon, and whether you're a person who thinks Avatar's visuals are the be all and end all.
A lot of people seem to view the turn into psycho-stalker territory as some kind of weakness; I never did. It sends a jolt through the film, that I like, and gives you a two-for-one feeling, in a From Dusk Till Dawn way. Nothing wrong with that.
I've definitely seen the film, but I can't remember anything about it, which, for such a important film, certainly makes me want to see it again to see what all the fuss is about.
Or maybe I'm confusing it with Event Horizon? Which I almost certainly confused with Jacobs Ladder and Nightbreed.
Don't be Silly
Don't be silly Sunshine is a good film but is NOT the best SCI-FI of the century it barely passes as a Sci-fi film it more a space horror.
The CGI looks good because everything in the film is constantly dark.
It is not comparable to Avatar either because Avatar's not a Sci-Fi film anyway it's a Sci-fi 3D animation.
Here are some better Sci-fi's that are less protentious
How have you created so many sub categories of Sci-Fi and then failed to make any of them the same? And then attempted to say that is the reason it's not the best Sci-Fi film?
Isn't that a bit like saying a potato is the best vegetable when you are comparing it to the likes of apples and banana's?
OK, let's run through your list and see what happens shall we :)
I've not seen Battleship yet so I can't categorise that but I'm sure it's the same category as the likes of Transformers so we'll call that "Sci-Fi for the Now".
Donnie Darko is more along the lines of "Teen Sci-Fi".
Resident Evil is classic "Horror Sci-Fi".
District 9 I'd mark out as "Sci-Fi Documentary".
Star Trek is "Classic Sci-Fi".
Whereas Serenity is "Fan Fiction Sci-Fi".
Watchmen is "Gritty Sci-Fi".
Limitless is "Hero Sci-Fi"
And finally you've got Equilibrium which is probably best left as "Cult Sci-Fi"
So what sub-genre have you pigeon-holed Sunshine into then?
Sunshine is alright. I prefer Alien 3.
Eh, No. The POV stuff renders the film incomprehensible. There is no tension or excitement created because I simply had no idea what I was looking at. That alone ruined it for me.
It's also the only thing I remember about it, which says it all.
Of course, it was light years ahead of JJ Abrams, dumbed down for mall dwelling idiots, Star Trek reboot, which Total Film called sci-fi film of the decade not long ago.
Not their finest moment.
Coincidentaly I've began rewatching Sunshine this afternoon. I don't know if it is the best but it is certainly a quality film, and much better than cheesy kid's film Avatar, which is nothing without the 3D gimmick.
is this a joke?
First of all, leighbrunson, Having a POS movie like Battleship is not going to prove your point so leave that out.
Secondly, in the words of Andy Dufresne: "How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?". Okay, maybe that a bit too harsh, but so is saying Sunshine is the greatest Sci-Fi movie this century. It wouldn't even rank in my top 20 of greatest Sci-Fi this century.
You say the closest competition is the high-budget mainstreams Avatar/Prometheus and the low-budget independent Moon. These movies, and Sunshine, are all Outer-Space related sub-genre's of Sci-Fi, NOT Sci-Fi in its entirety. so yeah, it is a massive stretch to say it's the best Sci-Fi movie.
Sci-Fi movies that are better then Sunshine:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
V for Vendetta
X-Men: First Class
Granted that some of these movies are comicbook adaptations, however they have been quite dominant recently; heck even the not listed Wall-E is a better Sci-Fi movie than Sunshine.
If you meant Outer-Space Sci-Fi, then Serenity and the latest Star Trek I believe are still better.
Although I'm not following Dojj Singh by going into super defined categories like "Teen Sci-Fi" or "Gritty Sci-Fi" (which, for a Sci-Fi movie, is a misnomer in its self). But Matt Glasby did say Sci-Fi and leighbrunson is stating Sci-Fi movies.. Matt Glasby didnt specify or classify his statement, so why should leighbrunson?
At first I though this article was bias; what does Total Film and Danny Boyle have in common... Britain. But the British Christopher Nolan's Inception? as a Sci-Fi movie Inception is much, much better.
Herein lies the key. Sunshine: "don't get too close to the sun - it's hot and it makes you nuts".
But hey, despite me trying to improve her movie knowledge, my sister's favourite movie is one of the Twilights.. so to each their own I suppose.
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