Tales of estrangement and isolation in exotic locales just do it for me. I’m still a sucker for Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away” and I’ll be damned if that silly-looking volleyball Wilson didn’t damn near bring me to tears when I first saw the film in theaters. One of my favorite pictures of 2013 was J.C. Chandor’s “All is Lost,” (and he’s knocked it out of the park again this year with the terrific “A Most Violent Year”) which told a primal and terrifying, almost Hemingway-esque story of man pitted against the cruel forces of nature. That film had almost no dialogue, befitting the elemental dilemmas that its stoic protagonist found himself up against. And now, we have “Against the Sun.” the true-life tale of three Navy airmen during WWII who crashed over the South Pacific. The film – possibly the only motion picture ever rated PG for “hardships” – chronicles what happens when these three men find themselves fighting for fuel, survival, and sanity on board a flimsy rubber raft as they hope not to perish in an increasingly harsh climate.
Directed by Brian Falk, who produced Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator,” “Against the Sun” looks to be a much glossier, more rousing and certainly chattier film than something like “All is Lost,” which is the very definition of a spartan narrative. The score does its best to evoke the sort of grand, emotionally expensive entertainment that “Against the Sun” is surely indebted to and there’s plenty to admire in the trailer: the film’s sun-kissed frames have an alluring tone, plus there’s all the requisite hallmarks of the survival genre, including an impossibly violent storm and the looming threat of hungry predators (in this case, a whole shitload of sharks).
In spite of the trailer’s bigger-is-better affectations, it looks to be a curiously modest effort: Tom Felton, who sniveled memorably as Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films, is by far the most recognizable face in the cast, although some may acknowledge the presence of gifted, idiosyncratic character actor Garret Dillahunt. Falk has a long list of producing credits, but his experience behind the camera is mostly limited to episodes of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” (he also produced 2013’s “Parkland”). Will “Against the Sun” be an old-fashioned, crowd-pleasing adventure full of big moments or heartfelt declarations of the intent to survive? Or will it be another dreg in the dry cinematic landscape that comes after award season? We’ll see when Goldcrest releases the film, which also stars Jake Abel and Nadia Parra, on January 23, 2015, in select theaters and on Cable On Demand, iTunes, Amazon Instant, Xbox, and PlayStation. Watch below. [Live For Films]