Director: Danny Doyle

DAD'S DEAD. 2002
Director: Chris Shepherd

Director: Dan Arnold

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

When I first saw the preview of Sunshine (2007), I thought it looked like it was going to be an exciting film. But, well, the trailor is much better than the film, which is a muddled mess, visually confusing with a silly story.

SunshineThe sun is dying. The Icarus II project intends to ignite "a star within a star" (there's no other sciency explanation, not even trekky gobbeldigook science). This will restart the sun & save the world. And this requires a crew of eight to actually visit the sun. I doubt anyone much over the age of nine would be convinced.

I additionally had high hopes for Sunshine because the ship's Captain Kanada is played by Hiroyukie Sanada of Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei, 2002).

Hiroyuke is one of the world's great & sensitive actors. But he had a little trouble acting outside his first language, especially with the crappy dialogue he is given, so that he's really only good in his silent passages.

And then, alas, because there was no black guy on board to be the first-man-dead, Captain Kanada is first to get fried by the sun when the magic sunshade needs fixing. After that there is not one actor of any consequence, & no character of interest, though to be fair it's the direction & the writing & the lame special FX that renders the actors so useless, & in almost any other film one or two of the cast could've been fine.

It's also dragged down by its 1980s style New Age music score, which is creepy but not supposed to be. And since the acting style seems to require everyone be zombified, the new age score just makes them seem sleepier.

Between the familiarity of set pieces borrowed from better films, & the pokiness of the unconvincing story, it's a real snoozer for the viewer as well as the sleepy cast.

SunshineFor a whole hour of terrible dialogue, bad visual art design, silly costuming (think gold lamme space suits), & the phoniest melodramatics, it's maddening enough to make one hope the filmmakers never get another green-light ever again, despite that Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002) had been so effective, for the first half at least.

Icarus is also the name of a HAL-type 2001 Space Odyssey (1968) artificial intelligence that runs the ship or is the ship, only with a girl's voice (Chipo Chung) instead of a sissy's. But the AI is not much used in the story.

Five minutes into the film we see a meal-time scene that seems self-consciously to emulate the same scene from Alien (1979). There's also a touch of Dark Star (1974) in the increasing air of grubbiness on board the Icarus.

In the future, communication with Earth will not be possible once one reaches the inner planets, & never mind that even with today's technology that's not a problem. So the crew is truly on their own except for they pick up a signal from Icarus I, the mysteriously lost first ship whose crew was supposed to re-ignite the sun.

A big retarded melodrama is made out of deciding whether or not to go find out what happened to the ship & if there are any survivors (though we're pretty much told that that would be an impossibility). Of course the decision to do this turns out to be a truly bad choice. So carnage ensues, lots of Icarus II gets wrecked, & the mission that would save Earth seems impossible to achieve.

SunshineAttempts are made to spice up the bland stew with space walks, but all scenes outside the ship are visually a mess due to the poor design & the worst editing & the piss-poor CGI that seems to have come out of a blender rather than out of anyone's functional imagination. You can't make hide nor hair of what's going on or what part of the ship is which, so the film is not only a zero for characterization & story, it's a zero for FX.

As though realizing the story stank up to now, the direction of everything changes rapidly when it is belatedly realized Icarus II had picked up an uninvited hitchhiker from Icarus I. He's a loony who seems to have survived by turning into some kind of psycho fireboy. He's eager to sabotage the mission just like he sabotaged the original mission.

The rest of the journey is the "psycho in the cabin by the lake" plot but inside a space ship. And as anyone should've been able to predict, turning it into a slasher-stalker film with glow-in-the-dark psycho really didn't improve anything.

It's only a guess that Sunshine was trying for a faux mystical end for the last-man-standing (Cillian Murphy). But riding the bomb to the "surface" of the sun is something we already know is supposed to be comical, like the bomb ride in Dr. Strangelove (), or surf-boarding into the upper atmosphere at the end of Dark Star, so that the attempt made in Sunshine to render the whimsical profound just so fails.

And most foolish of all, nothing we see during this final ride really lets us know why eight human beings were needed to get this far, as for all we can tell it could all have been done, & done much better, by an unmanned mission.

Sunshine Among the Extras on the Sunshine dvd are two short films, included, we are told, because short subjects can be great movies but never get a fair shake in distribution.

Alas these examples seem to have been chosen so as not to outshine & show up Sunshine, & that meant they had to be the dregs of shorts subjects.

Dad's Dead (2002) is the memoir about a friend from school days in Liverpool, part live action badly acted, part animation in a retro-punk style, all of it mostly dull, & climaxing with a very lame punchline.

It comes off as authentically the most interesting thing that happened to the filmmaker in highschool, with nothing better happening since, so it's been a pretty dull life.

Mole Hills (2006) shows us some piles of dirt on a concrete sidewalk which are the mole hills which perhaps are supposed to be mysterious since no mole could've dug through the concrete, but really just look like what they are, a few shovels of dirt on the sidewalk.

The film is jerkilly edited, partially stop motion which shows birds & cars appearing & disappearing from the frame. Nothing else happens. It really couldn't've been any worse, & makes the awful Dad's Dead seem pretty good by comparison.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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