A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

July 19, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Sunshine: This fascinating, if uneven space odyssey from director Danny Boyle is one of those films where, when the credits start to roll you just sit there, staring at the screen, eyes unblinking. Kind of wondering, 'What the F?', but in a mostly good way.

The story, taking place 50 years in the future, concerns 8 astronauts and scientists sent to reignite a dying sun with a bomb the size of Manhattan. But Armageddon this is not. Equal parts 2001: Space Odyssey and Alien, the whole movie takes place aboard the ship and in space, with no cutbacks to 'mission control' or 'worried loved ones' that are the hallmark of most disaster movies. This is more concerned with the psychology of these 8 people as they try to remain sane, having spent two years in space and knowing there will be no return.

It is when the movie focuses on this psychology and the ship's personal dynamics that the movie thrives. In fact the first 2/3 of the film is, to borrow a phrase from the British, 'bloody brilliant'. It was one of those rare moviegoing experiences where you are completely immersed and are cognizant of nothing except what is going on in front of you. Then, as in one of Boyle's previous films, 28 Days Later, the movie does a 180 in the final third and feels like a whole different movie altogether*. We go from legitimate sci-fi masterpiece** to a kind of weird, otherworldly slasher film, and the transition is a bit jarring.

None-the-less, the movie remains compelling due to the amazing special effects (The $150 million Transformers has nothing on this $40 million whopper) and the great acting, especially by Cillian Murphy, who is slowly emerging as one of the bigger talents out there. This is one of those, 'catch it on the big screen' type films, but if nothing else it demands to be watched at home with all of the lights off and the volume up.

*The switch in 28 Days Later I refer to is when they reach the army base. Up until that point I loved everything. Wandering around a deserted London, zombies running everywhere. But when they got to the base it shifted gears and didn't work for me quite as much. If you've seen that film, and you were fine with that change in tone than maybe you won't mind the similar one that occurs in Sunshine.
**I am by no means a sci-fi nerd, so I was not predispositioned one way or another to like or dislike the film. I guess that also means me calling something a 'sci-fi classic' should be taken with a giant grain of coarse salt.

Thunder Matt Rating: First 85 minutes, 5 Thunderbolts Out of 5. Last 30 Minutes, 2 Bolts Out of 5. What's that average out to? Lets go with 3.5 Thunderbolts Out of 5.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry:
Really, I have nothing against Adam Sandler. I'm neither for or against him. The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy: Good. Little Nicky and The Longest Yard: Bad. And yeah, I kind of like Kevin James. Probably not going to earn me any street cred to admit that I like King of Queens and even Hitch, but honestly, I probably lost all sense of cool when I wore a leather KISS jacket to high school in 1995, before they put the makeup back on and became cool again*.

But I'll tell you what annoys the hell out of me. The fact that Sandler feels the need to cast every one of his buddies in all of his films. This one is no exception. Christ, it's like an episode of This is Your Life that won't end. Problem is, the majority of his friends just aren't funny. Can someone please pass a law that prohibits Rob Schneider from appearing in films? Ah...anyway, I digress.

Far be it from me to shy away against a good old fashioned joke regarding any of my buddies' flamboyant sexualities (at last count, half the bartenders at TMS were really, really gay) but this film just falls flat. I guess the premise of two straight guys pretending to be gay so one can receive benefits might have seemed 'risque' in the Regan Era**, but the movie uses such broad stokes and stereotypes that it's about as cutting edge as a plastic spork. In fact the only thing offensive about it is the notion that in the movie the gay community embraces these two guys for essentially making a mockery of their lifestyle. The whole 'accept everyone for who they are' message at the end is all good and well, but must it be delivered via an out of control courtroom scene? Ugh.

There are a few funny moments and you hear more anal sex jokes in 2 hours than you probably would during Pledge Week at your older brother's bi-curious frat house, but it's all more scatter-shot than Dick Cheney's rifle.

The real reason to see it (ahem, rent it) is of course Jessica Biel. When she strips down, soaking wet in her bra and panties it almost makes you forget the scene with a very large, very naked Ving Rhames singing 'I'm Every Woman' in the communal shower.

Sure there are some laughs to be had, but you have to ask yourself, "Do I really want to in any way, shape or form support Rob Schneider?" Think about that long. And hard.....that's what he said.

*This 'cool' era for KISS lasted about 6 months.
**Or currently, in Alabama.

Thunder Matt Rating: 2 Sassy Thunderbolts Out of 5

Oceans 13: I will keep this one brief, since it's theatrical run is probably almost over, and frankly, if you've seen the first two, you know the drill. There's not much to go over plot wise. Wisecracking and extremely handsome men rob a casino. A terribly orange Al Pacino chews scenery and over-enunciates. You're never sure exactly what the hell is going on and when it does happen you don't believe for a second that it actually could. That said, I loved it.

Big improvement from Oceans 12, more on par with the first one. It's colorful, it's breezy, it's Vegas baby. Nothing that will stick with you for long after you leave the theatre, but like Vegas, it's worth a visit.

Thunder Matt Rating: 3.5 Stars Out of 5