Saturday, July 4, 2015

Your sun asplodes!

So,  I imagine it went something like this:

"Guys, we just finished this movie. A spaceship with an experimental drive crashes into the sun and sets off a chain reaction that threatens all life on Earth. We need a killer science-fiction disaster movie title. What do you have for us?"

"The space ship makes the sun explode? How is that even possible?"

"Well, it's an experimental quantum scalar mumble mumble, polarity atomic mumble mumble."

"Cool. Okay - let's call it Exploding Sun!"

"Well, the sun doesn't actually explode -- it kinda gets all stirred up and emits cosmic rays and microwaves and EMPs and mumble mumble."

"So it's more like Cosmic-Ray-Emitting Sun? How about Energetically-Active Sun? Or Sub-Atomically-Excited Sun?"

"Okay then, Exploding Sun it is!


I'm still not quite sure why Wonder Wife and I sat through all of this disaster of a disaster movie. We thought it was a television series, since it was listed on Netflix as SE1:EP1 when we were browsing, but it turns out the film has just been packaged to be shown as either one two-hour movie (on DVD) or a two-part three-hour version (what Netflix has). On any case, after sitting through the first half, we thought we'd watch the second half to see if it got any better (as it couldn't get any worse).

Starring Not-Greg Kinnear, Not-Summer Glau, and Not-Patrick Warburton.

Forget Star Trek technobabble; this movie operates on Flash Gordon levels of scientific accuracy to send its small crew of civilian astronauts (including the First Lady) on the inaugural trip of a space clipper: a nine-hour trip the moon and back. (It's a really fast ship.) While we thought we were going to watch the exploits of this small group of survivors when disaster (naturally) strikes, they are summarily killed to get the plot moving. What we thought was too little time spent on them turns out to be too much time, since their identities never factor into the plot or character development of those left behind in any meaningful way, but only as links to the various scenarios that comprise the film.

The movie seems to have been shot by several units who never worked together or even corresponded via email. Besides the main scientists-vs-sun action featuring our heroic trio above, we have White House situation room shenanigans, a small town coping with disaster, the callous arbitrager stuck in his high-rise, and the plucky medicos of the refugee camp in Afghanistan fighting warlorlds as well as solar flares.

And this really is Julia Ormand stuck in this turkey. 
(I think she filmed all her scenes in two or three days while on vacation in Morocco 
and nobody told her the plot of the actual movie.)

The disaster movie recipe isn't a difficult one to follow, and somehow this movie managed to hit all the beats without creating emotional resonance with any of the characters or any narrative coherence in the plot. It almost seems like a first draft, with seeds of some interesting character development or conflict (an over-zealous White House Chief-of-Staff, a potential polygamous relationship among the three leads, an It Can't Happen Here vibe in the small town) but without more than the slightest realization of those notions. The guy in the high rise seems to have no narrative purpose whatsoever.

But Wonder Wife and I stuck it out to the end, I guess optimistic that something would rise from the morass. It didn't, but at least we saved you the mistake of watching Exploding Sun.

Spoiler alert: the sun doesn't explode.

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