If there is one thing the public loves it is a good survival story. Put any number of people in an ‘against the odds’ kind of plot and you already hooked the viewer. Especially if we have a story set during any time of war because if there is one thing Americans love is war stories. Type the words ‘World War II’ & ‘Survival’ and you will get tons of media that recounts some brutal situations soldiers got in to. Brian Falk’s Against the Sun is yet another entry and honestly, like the characters involved, it more than likely will be lost in sea.
Against the Sun quickly gets the ball rolling as we witness the plight of three Navy airman (Jake Abel, Garret Dillahunt, and Tom Felton) lost adrift in the middle of the Pacific. While this is based off a true story it certainly does not help this feels like any other lost at sea tale. We go from start to finish with the typical plot points from an arrogant leader, to trying to find food, to the evitable storm that plagues these men. While these three look the part, there is nothing here to make these men memorable or distinguishable. Brian Falk and co-writer Mark David Keegan definitely respect the real survivors but because their tale is pretty typical they do not add any dimension to make us care.
Two people that do try and add something to this picture are Cinematographer Petr Cikhart and Editor Sean Albertson. For a good spell this film is shot amazingly well and Cikhart’s history as a documentarian certainly helps. The day scenes have some beautiful, sweeping shots of the ocean and Cikhart does some innovative things like filming underwater to get some unique angles. Albertson then does some magic by cutting pretty quickly so looking at only three men the entire length is not too boring. It is always difficult to make a film with one setting interesting but to give credit where credit is due Against the Sun is visually appealing.
Actually Against the Sun is visually appealing to a point. A good two thirds through this and the budget seemed to drop dramatically as poor CGI and green screen is used throughout. Let’s put it this way: The sharks from Jaws 3D look more realistic than this film’s. Try as he can, Cikhart can only do so much when the film goes for the cheap so late. That and it must be said that the night scenes involved are infuriatingly dark. It is one way to be realistic but considering we cannot see some key plot moments because of the non-existing lighting maybe it would not have hurt to have some kind of light on these guys.
Unfortunately Against the Sun is one of the more frustrating, true stories to be made. No matter how beautiful this film can look there are countless things that continues to stall it. The characters are not interesting, the writing is too predictable, and the CGI is SyFy Channel level bad. If you are into survival stories or even a WWII fanatic this might be for you. But with so many damn options available you can watch, read, listen, or even play much better stories than this.