An unsung Scifi Gem

Sunshine

This is probably one of my favorite movies. Definitely the biggest discovery i credit to my netflix. I remember seeing the trailers for this one thinking: “this looks cool, maybe i should see it” and almost doing so with my girlfriend, but never did. 2 years later i got this movie, and my god was i missing out.

The Story So Far: The Sun is dying (don’t strain yourself on the science of that nor the insanity of trying to fix it cause the film doesn’t) and the Icarus II is on a voyage to to set of an ENORMOUS nuke in order to save the sun and thus save the earth. The film begins with the crew already 18 months into their trip just as they reach the dead zone (from here on communication with Earth is impossible). On the way, they discover a beacon, the Icarus I (which vanished in the dead zone years before) is still there, but it’s unknown whether or not anyone is still alive on it. They decide to take a risk and venture to the other ship, and bing bang boom disasters cause the crew to die off one by one. As disaster movies go it follows the formula, many people draw heavy parallels to the film Event Horizon. The stories are quite similar, but there is one significant difference, this one is actually REALLY GOOD. Sure the story isn’t fantastic, but that’s the weakest link in a fantastic film.

Acting: There are less than a dozen characters in this film, one of them is a computer, so there is nowhere to hide, and each actor delivers. No single actor stands out, but suffice to say each one does a great job, it’s in the subtleties, each actor feels more like a member of the crew than people on a set. Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Inception) it the lead as Capa, the crew’s nuclear physicist. I guess i’ll retract my last statement, though they are all awesome; Chris Evans (Fantastic 4, Captain America) never really had roles to demonstrate him as an actor (though he now has done so quite well) and in this film he’s surprising, a part of a hardass would seem simple, but he manages to give it some personality and depth. I like the character and feel sad when they inevitably perish.

Visual: It’s a shame that Danny Boyle (28 days later, Slumdog Millionaire) and his cinematographer and visual director didn’t get any recognition for this film. It is in every sense of the word gorgeous!! The biggest sensation passed by the film is claustrophobia and total aloneness (if that’s a word). Every shot is subtle cramped by the bulkheads of the ship, even more so when there are spacesuits involved. The suits have cameras mounted within them so you get to see the actors in a VERY confined space and without the standard giant visor on the spacesuit. When outside the ship, there is nothing else there, there are no stars, no planets, absolutely nothing, just the Icarus and the Sun growing ever closer. The crowning moment of awesome (that won’t spoil anything) visually is mercury, i won’t go into detail, but i’ll throw up a link. trust me, it is visual gold. Sadly, very few love movies just because they’re amazing to look at.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp7z8Gvexas

Sound: This film SHOULD have at least gotten an oscar nomination for sound or audio or anything of the sort. This film reminds us that sound it’s all there is, there is substance in silence, there is beauty in simplicity. The crew must have had a lot to work on, between the pings and beeps of the ship countered against the crushing silence of nothing and somehow translating the intense light of the sun into noise (sure it’s fake but it works). My total praise goes to John Murphy (Kickass, 28 Days Later) for composing. As I said before, simplicity doesn’t mean bad. The score is very simple, but extremely elegant and moving. You’ve probably heard the main tune: Adagio in D Minor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQXVzg2PiZw. It’s been used in some films/shows and a lot of trailers. I love it, but i’m weird :) .

Overall: I don’t think non movie people will really appreciate this film, Its fairly slow and isn’t really sensational compared to disaster movies of the decade. But since you’re here reading this blog, I’m fairly certain you’re not one of those people. If you haven’t seen it, you should, either to find you like it too or just to prove i’ve got no taste. One of the little things i love about it is that MOST of the physics are realistic, they put in genuine effort to be scientifically accurate, and the final product is pretty close. It is gorgeous, it is very well made, it’s an all-around good movie. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Please go see it.

Once again feel free to request reviews. I think how i’m gonna run the site is i write one of my own each weekend and write request reviews as they come in, at least until it picks up. Thanks for reading.

Woo, My first movie review

Just to re-establish, I’m not giving it a number rating, I’m critiquing it then sum up if i like it and if you will too, So without further delay

The Last Samurai

Seemed as good a place as any to start, My family found this movie while randomly sweeping blockbuster so many years ago, and we all loved it. It comes mostly from the fact that my entire family has a soft spot for samurai, Japan and the like.

Anyways

The story is simple enough.1876, Tom Cruise is a military hero of the civil war and Indian campaigns that followed. He finds himself in the employ of a Japanese business tycoon who wants him to raise an army for Japan to suppress a samurai uprising. In battle he is captured by the samurai and forced to spend winter in their village. He spends his winter become enveloped in the culture, learning the language and how to fight alongside the samurai. When the winter ends, he is forced to choose between his life as a soldier and his new found love for the peace he finds with the samurai. Battle, blood and lots of pretty landscapes follow and overall the effect it quite good.Now don’t come here looking for history, the rebellion of the samurai was real, but nothing else about the movie.The story isn’t fantastic, it’s very simple and has been done time and time again. People who haven’t seen this one i’m betting are comparing it to James Cameron’s Avatar in their heads. But this one is far better.

Visual: The Cinematography isn’t complex, but it keeps up with the action scenes really well. We’re not subjected to a Michael Bay style of action where we haven’t the slightest clue what’s going on, no when Tom Cruise is impaling people it is very clear. As said above the sets and landscapes are superb in my opinion, the sleepy town really feels peaceful.

Acting: it’s funny, after my family watched this movie we sat there for an hour debating what other actor we could see playing the lead, and honestly we couldn’t come up with one. Tom Cruise is absolutely golden in this role, his normally wooden demeanor actually plays into the character. I challenge any reader to come up with someone else and let me know your choice. The other star is Ken Watanabe (you probably know him from Inception), in his first American film. His part is that of the Samurai leader. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, that says enough in my opinion.

Sound: good lord. I could spend pages and pages ranting why Hans Zimmer is the best film composer ever to walk the Earth, but i won’t subject you to that. It’s a beautiful sweeping score that varies greatly and reflects the scenes and amplifies the mood. Not something that can be told, you’ll just have to see it. A special note goes out to the fact that people ACTUALLY SPEAK JAPANESE in the film, including Tom Cruise. Since subtitles are such a rarity i applaud those that use the native language. I can understand why people wouldn’t it takes more thought to follow it, but to me it makes it feel more authentic, more real.

Overall: A beautiful film, i love it. Now will you? it’s kinda slow, there are a number of very nice action scenes scattered, but between them can be dry for some. Best comparison is to Edward Zwick’s (the director of this one) Glory. very pretty, kinda deep, and garnished with bloody battles. If you love Samurai culture definitely see it. If you don’t mind movies with subtitles that are a bit slow, definitely see it. If you want action, you could do better, but in my opinion it’s far better than having James Cameron shove his pro-environment agenda and now famous graphics into your face for 3 hours.