Two Movies, ‘Sunshine,’ and ‘The Fountain,’ Defy Expectations – and Not in a Good Way

I recently decided to watch “Sunshine,” expecting an action movie and “The Fountain,” expecting a romantic movie of the epic sort. No such luck.

MOVIE NO. 1

Her majesty (Rachel Weisz) and her conquistador (Hugh Jackman) in a scene from "The Fountain." Photo courtesy of the Starpulse Web site.
Her majesty (Rachel Weisz) and her conquistador (Hugh Jackman) in a scene from "The Fountain." Photo courtesy of the Starpulse Web site.

“The Fountain” was just a mess. It was supposed to be a love story with Hugh Jackman (“X-men”) playing a man desperately seeking a cure for his wife’s (Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz) life-threatening illness.

Instead, it jumped from story 1 to story 2 to story 3 and back again with no obvious connection, let alone cohesiveness. In one storyline, we get what was promised in the marketing campaign: Jackman as a doctor scrambling to save his wife.

In another narrative, Jackman has a conversation with a tree, who is apparently Weisz or representative of her, in a different world (reality? outer space? the future?). In yet another plot,  Jackman portrays a conquistador determined to bring home a victory for his queen (Weisz).

The sets were gorgeous, but they only seemed to serve as another distraction that kept most people from understanding the story. Maybe you don’t think I’m smart enough to “get” this movie, but I watched it with my sister, whose I.Q. is just shy of genius status, and she didn’t get it either.

ALL MIXED-UP

Post-movie, but pre-special features, I was thinking, “Who needed to make a movie stuffed with indecipherable metaphors?” Then, as I watched snippets of the DVD’s special features, I realized the director (Darren Aronofsky, who happens to be Weisz’ real-life beau) set out to make a science fiction movie — only it was never marketed that way, let alone put in the right category at Blockbuster.

In fact, at the branch I went to, there was no science fiction category for the DVDs. If I remember correctly, “The Fountain” was in the drama section so I watched the movie practically blindfolded, my expectations shattered. Once you see the film, you’ll completely understand my point that the drama genre is entirely different than science fiction and should be labeled and marketed as such. If it was, then I would have had realistic expectations of another DVD rental, “Sunshine.”

MOVIE NO. 2

“Sunshine” was directed by Danny Boyle, fresh off his wins for “Slumdog Millionaire,” which was why I thought “Sunshine” would make a decent rental. And to an extent, it was.

Cillian Murphy ("Batman Begins") in a scene from the action-packed film, "Sunshine."
Cillian Murphy ("Batman Begins") in a scene from the action-packed film, "Sunshine." Photo courtesy of the All Movie Photo Web site.

Set in the distant future, the film focused on a group of people (Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, etc.) who are launched into space to reignite the sun and defrost a world that has turned cold. Already, the movie is one up on “The Fountain” — at least the audience knows when the movie is set.

Throughout its running time, the film does play like an action movie and a very smart one at that. However, toward the end, “Sunshine” fell into the same weird pitfall “The Fountain” did. Yes, the plot twist was unexpected, which I assume was what they were going for, but it was also completely ridiculous and unbelievable.

Admittedly, that particular storyline appeared to belong in the movie more after the fact — when I found out “Sunshine” was also meant to be a science fiction movie, not an action film, as originally marketed.

LET THAT BE A LESSON

What compels marketing companies to falsely present movies like this? OK, box office earnings may be the most likely culprit, but neither “Sunshine” nor “The Fountain” was a hit. I mean, had you even heard of them before reading this?

Conversely, had the movies been marketed as the science fiction films that they were, there would have been a niche audience who would have filled theater seats. A cult following might have ensued and that would have been good for DVD sales versus, you know, duping moviegoers.

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One thought on “Two Movies, ‘Sunshine,’ and ‘The Fountain,’ Defy Expectations – and Not in a Good Way

  1. Honestly, these are two of my favorite movies; the Fountain being my favorite movie of all time. Next your going to tell me that you don’t like Mr. Nobody, Stay, Inception, Solaris, Donnie Darko, and Shutter Island. Well, I understand that people have differences of opinion, but I thought these were classics. For me, they broadened the spectrum of thought, and left me thinking for days on end. If you would like to reply with more movies like these that you do not like, I would appreciate it, because maybe I would get something new that I love.

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