Even the Sun shines on a dog’s ass…
August 18, 2010 1 Comment
So I was surfing the enormous amount of cable television channels that I currently get and wandered across this bizarre little film called Sunshine. Of course it was already in the middle of the movie when I found it, but the plot wasn’t all that difficult to discern within a few minutes of watching. The gist is that it is a Gazillion years in the future and the Sun has had enough. It wants to shuffle off the mortal coil and move its decrepit ass to the solar equivalent of Southern Florida. Humanity the egocentric bastards that they happen to be feel that this would basically really suck and are determined to prevent this from happening.
Basically since it is a Bazillion years in the future (the writers were very careful to be nonspecific) the Sun has used up almost all of its internal fuel and is starting to dim. For those of you of a scientific bent, no the Sun has not become the red giant star every single astrophysicist since the dawn of astrophysics has claimed will happen it is in fact just fading away. The Earth of course has started to freeze and is now a permanent Winter Wonderland. Humanity has come up with a plan to jump-start the Sun again using what they refer to as a stellar bomb. The idea being that they send the bomb into the heart of the Sun and like a shot of epinephrine fire up (heh) the Sun back to full brightness.
Our intrepid heroes are the 2nd team that has been sent to reboot our Mother star, Seven years after the first team was declared missing. Seeing as flying anything near the Sun is inherently unwise the Icarus 2 is using the stellar bomb as a sunscreen. It cleverly has panels that can be adjusted to reflect the dangerous rays and radiation from the fragile ship and crew. Additionally the Icarus 2 is not only controlled by humans but has a semiautonomous computer system that maintains the flight path, and environmental systems to keep the crew alive.
Things are going swimmingly as the Icarus 2 approaches the planet Mercury, there is a minor scuffle between crew members as they enter the communications dead zone (output of the Sun yo) but all is resolved peacefully by the Sun obsessed on-board shrink. This is one of the first things that started to bother me about this film. Within the first 20 minutes the shrink is having a passionate discussion that darkness is the absence of light, that without the Sun we having and are nothing. He is in fact so obsessed with the Sun that he spends a lot of the movie sitting in the observation room looking at it. Trying to figure out how much he can reduce the filter without dying. Eventually the on-board computer determines that he can withstand a 3.1% reduction of the filter for 30 seconds without permanent damage and he spends the remainder of the film with a badly sunburned and peeling face.
As they are approaching Mercury and are making their final preparations on their approach to the Sun when they pick-up an unexpected signal. Much to their surprise the Icarus 1 was not in fact destroyed. The distress signal puts our intrepid heroes into conflict. With the crew almost evenly divided between completing the mission and delivering their bomb thus possibly saving humanity or solving the mystery and discovering what happened to the first crew. As with all decisions of this kind it is left up to the meek science type. You know the academic who hides behind everyone hoping and praying to God that no one notices him/her.
Predictably he relies on the numbers. The mission as is does not have a 100% chance of success. Too many variables and unknowns for that and as it should come to no surprise whatsoever it is decided that with the Icarus 1 still being intact 2 bombs are better than 1. The course is altered and the die is cast. Up until now the mission has been going smoothly, too smoothly. The movie Gods have decreed that a detail must be missed. Through all of the calculations no one thinks to reposition the sun shield and the delicate bits get damaged.
Three of the movable panels have been damaged and will no longer close and the Captain and the scientist are selected to go out and fix them. At this point it is an old comedy trope, seriously if you cannot predict what is about to happen you need to leave my blog. I mean it, get out.
To no one’s surprise (seriously if you are surprised you need to leave) the repairmen cannot be guaranteed shadow they are on the clock. They manage to repair 2 of the panels before full sunlight and as they are repairing the 3rd the Sun creeps toward them. The Captain sends our friendly neighborhood scientist back to the ship while he finishes the repair. Since this isn’t a disaster flick the Captain (my Captain) manages to finish the repair just as the Sun hits that panel. He is of course consumed by flames and as he meets his fiery end the shrink is screaming into the radio for the Captain to tell him what he sees. The Captain does a really good impression of well-done bacon and the scientist makes it safely back into the ship.
The movie Gods are vengeful. They have decreed that not only is blood required, but there must also be suffering. While trying to give the repair crew as much shade as possible the rotating radio masts are exposed to direct sunlight. Of course they are burned out and somehow this causes fire (in a vacuum no less) to shoot down into the hydroponics/life support section of the ship and set it ablaze. With their only source of renewable air burning and the integrity of the ship at risk they decide to release tanked O2 to cause a flash over in an attempt to burn out the fire. Having been satiated the movie Gods allow the fire to be extinguished.
To the surprise of no one (really if you ARE surprised you NEED TO LEAVE) the intrepid crew does not have enough oxygen to complete their mission. Fingers are pointed, nasty names are called and the crew member responsible for forgetting to adjust the sunshield is now suicidal. Our suicide risk is doped up and four of the remaining seven crew members prepare to board the Icarus 1.
Who goes? I hear you ask. The new Captain, the shrink, the engineer, and the scientist. Once they are onboard the Icarus 1 the first thing they notice is that the power is off and everything is coated in a huge layer of dust and grit. They decide to split up as they search the ship for survivors. Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie already knows this is just a bad idea and will not, end well.
What they discover is that the hydroponic section is still intact and is in fact overgrown like crazy (they have air). The semiautonomous computer systems brain has been removed from its cooling liquid and has since deep-fried itself. Some of the crew members have apparently exposed themselves to 100% of the Suns magnificence and are now ashy statues and last but not least the Icarus 1 is dead in the water.
Since we have had about 5 minutes without a life being endangered something must happen! Anyone that had money on the Icarus 2 suddenly and violently disengaging from Icarus 1 is now a winner. That’s right sports fans the airlock is destroyed and our industrious away team is now fucked since there are 4 of them and only 1 space suit. One would assume that there is now a rather violent game of rock/paper/space-your-ass but no there isn’t. The psychiatrist decides to remain aboard the Icarus 1, the scientist gets the space suit and the engineer and new Captain have to tag-along for the ride.
Unsurprisingly the new Captain does not make it back to the Icarus 2 (loses his grip dontcha know) and floats off into space. The scientist and engineer make it back safely (relatively) and there is a rather unpleasant discussion about who sabotaged the airlock and the fact that there are too many people and too little air. A consensus is eventually reached that the suicidal crew member must be responsible (and sucking down too much o2) so the engineer goes down to the sickbay to shiv his ass only to discover someone has already beaten him to it.
Ok it was previously determined that there was only enough air left for 4 people to complete the mission. On our roster we have the navigator, the scientist, the engineer and the life support specialist (aka the gardener) and unsurprisingly the computer advises that they cannot complete the mission because there will not be enough air to keep everyone alive. The scientist argues with the computer that there are in fact only 4 people on board and the computer blithely informs him that there are in fact 5.
Things kind of go off the rails for me at this point.
The computer is smart enough to recognize the biometrics of its crew, but it doesn’t bother to tell anyone that they suddenly have a new crew member? Who destroys the airlock? Who kills a crew member (the suicide risk)? And then kills another crew member (the gardener)?
Our mystery guest also manages to chase the scientist into the airlock and locks him in (or is it out?) after explaining that he (the weirdo) has spent the last few years speaking to God (aka the Sun) and that they are heretics and need to die. The navigator is able to elude him by locking herself in with the stellar bomb. Somehow our mystery guest is also able to extract the computer core from its cooling liquid (once again where the hell is the security to prevent this?) and the engineer dies while trying to get the computer back online.
The scientist jumps into a space suit, manages to open the airlock (exposing it to vacuum) and thanks to explosive decompression airs out the entire ship. Pretty convenient way to get rid unexpected murderous guests… or is it? The scientist makes his way to the bomb enters the airlock and discovers that he is not alone. Both the navigator and the UMG have made it safely in. Our hero manages to launch the bomb towards the sun, take out the UMG and save humanity. The movie ends with a view of a snow covered field and a woman and child are playing in the snow. They suddenly look up and we hear a voice over from the scientist telling his sister that she will know they succeeded if one day the Sun should shine a bit brighter.