Iain Gray Freelance Writer

Big, beautiful and stupid

Danny Boyle’s Sunshine is akin to the premiership of Tony Blair: initially intriguing, even hopeful, but ultimately a huge disappointment filled with hollow promise.

Yet, also like Blair, it has an overwhelming sense of its own worth, an elevated opinion of its place in the pantheon of greats. In essence, it is nowhere near as important or intelligent as it seems to believe it is.

As a science-fiction rollercoaster, the first forty minutes of Sunshine are gripping stuff - disaster follows disaster with nail-shredding, bowel-loosening tension. But suddenly, as though inflated by its own puffed-up ego, it turns into messy meditation on existence, faith and factor-60 suncream.

It even tries its hand at emulating 2001 an attempt as flashy, empty and unfulfilling as a masturbatory fantasy about Fearne Cotton.

So, to celebrate this triumph of style over content, Reel Life lists some other films that think they are smarter than they actually are.

The Matrix (1999)
I’m waiting for the howls of protest from the fanboys on this one. However, face facts. As an action film, it’s certainly exciting, but the moment people start droning on about Oracles, Architects, and what is reality, it turns into a first-year philosophy student’s last minute coursework entry. You want proof? The Matrix includes the line: “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.” Indeed.

Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho (1998)
Brilliant. You take a masterpiece of horror and remake it almost exactly, but instead of Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and erotic terror, we get Vince Vaughan, Anne Heche and extra w**king. Why, Gus, why? The original was great, you are a fabulous director, but what on earth inspired you to attempt (and fail at) this ridiculous intellectual exercise?

The Prestige (2006)
What is the truth? Where does the illusion start? And stop? What is real? What is fake? All very good questions until you work out the twist (after about half an hour) and then everything, although undeniably pretty and well-acted (especially by Michael Caine and David Bowie), becomes a tad pretentious.

The Island (2005)
An ambitious action movie dealing with complex themes of existence, self and class. Yay! Directed by Michael Bay. Boo!

Creep (2004)
This attempt to remake classic British London Underground horror Deathline is a complete success apart from the lack of pathos, bathos, wit, suspense, humour and memorable characters. And it seems to see itself as a social commentary on something or other. Answers on a postcard please.

The Last Action Hero (1993)
Arnie does post-modernism. Say no more…

Anything else by Danny Boyle (with the possible exception of Millions, which I haven’t seen)
Sunshine isn’t his first endeavour to overplay the limits of his intellectual capacity. There also seems to be a pattern forming.
1: take fantastic concept (dead lodger is millionaire/whole world has turned into zombies)
2: extract tension (moral dilemma over money/zombies can run!)
3: self-destruct (flat turns into ridiculous bloodbath/British army is apparently more dangerous than zombie plague)
4: reap plaudits for being saviour of intellectual British cinema (scratch head in bewilderment and turn on any Shane Meadows film)


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