Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« You. Your friends. Northwest F... | The Bike Plan, Unravelled »

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Infernal Spoilers of the Sunshine Kind

posted by on July 31 at 16:35 PM

So I got an angry e-mail from a reader today, complaining (rightly) that I gave too much away in my extremely enthusiastic review of Sunshine, specifically about a plot development in the third act (which has since been removed from the web version). To be honest, I don’t think having prior knowledge of said detail wrecks the experience — one of the best things about the flick (and the point at which I suspect my deadline-frenzied brain was trying to get at by unwisely spilling the beans) is how it takes a bunch of moldy old space clichés and makes them feel freshly minted — but to anyone who felt bummed out by it, I sincerely apologize.

Anyway, this got me thinking about spoilers, and the way that Harry Knowles and Co. seem to have blurred the lines about what it’s possible to know before entering the theater. (Skimming the reviews for Sunshine at Rotten Tomatoes, I found a bunch that gave away the whole damn thing.) Personally, I generally try to limit my plot descriptions to a sentence or two, which is probably too limited for some people (a pre-Stranger editor of mine used to routinely add gobs of synopsis to my stuff, claiming that the audience wanted to know what they were in for), but I’m curious. Mileage varies, of course — I know people who plug their ears and close their eyes at trailers, while others routinely go on the IMDB looking for explicit, beat by beat details – but any thoughts on what type of information you generally look for in a review? If a movie has a big, Shyamalan-type ending, for example, is it giving too much away to even mention a twist?

Thanks, and sorry, and thanks.

P.S. It’s made out of people! People!

RSS icon Comments


This has nothing to do with you or the movie reviews, but I was severely pissed when Charles decided to give away the ending to Brokeback Mountain... in Police Beat of all places.

Seriously, is there any reason to do that besides piss on people who want to see the movie?

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | July 31, 2007 4:47 PM

Luckily I had seen the film already, but as soon as I saw your review I thought the same thing -- That it would be a let down to anyone who wanted to see the film.

I hate to say it Andrew, but this situation is the exact reason why I don't read film reviews before seeing a movie. Consequently I risk never reading any reviews at all.

Posted by D. | July 31, 2007 4:47 PM


***Spoilers! That aren't exactly spoilers! (If you read up on (most) films!)***

Considering Fox's little Sunshine pimpin' YouTube marketing plan--where they tell you every character dies, as well as show you how they die--it's kind of hard to spoil Sunshine. I almost wonder why they decided to do that...I had no idea they did until I had already seen it. It...really makes no fucking sense.

"Hey, everybody dies, this is how, now go pay to see this movie, because you know you want to watch the rest of it. You know. The filler. The 'scientific' filler. You know, the stuff that the type of person who would only see a movie if they knew every character would die would not care about? Yeah. That stuff. Bwanananana.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 31, 2007 4:52 PM


Posted by Mr. Poe | July 31, 2007 4:59 PM

Well, it's a film about people flying into the sun; I would kind of expect everyone to die, but to be shown how? Ridiculous!

And I hate spoilers. I stopped watching the ads for 24 a few years ago, as they give away way too much. What I really hate, though, is those that seem to be purely for the sake of being a dick. I receive the Harper's Weekly e-mail, and last week they included the sentence "The final book of the Harry Potter series, in which [spoiler redacted], was released in the United States and sold 8.3 million copies within 24 hours." Real classy, folks!

Posted by Levislade | July 31, 2007 5:05 PM

Mr. Poe @3, I had no idea about the YouTube thing for Sunshine. Thanks for spoiling the movie for me, in a comment thread for people to say how they feel about spoilers of all places!

Andrew, I generally prefer the "sentence or two" approach to plot synopsis. It seems like a good balance that protects all but those so sensitive that they (should) know not to read reviews at all.

Reviews are a case-by-case beast by nature, but if the point of a review is to help the reader decide whether to invest time and money in a film, what point is there if a spoiler in the review makes the question moot?

Looked at from another angle, those who want plenty of explicit detail in advance can easily find it. Those who prefer to experience a film untainted, though, have no recourse once a spoiler is sprung.

Posted by lostboy | July 31, 2007 5:08 PM


Maybe you shouldn't be such a dumbass. By that, I mean maybe you should stop reading after someone uses bold tags to inform you that there will be spoilers. I'm sorry for your stupidity. No, really. I am.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 31, 2007 5:36 PM

Actually when I wrote my @2 response I was thinking of another thing Andrew spoiled in the review which I won't mention, but rest assured readers all has not been revealed.

Posted by D. | July 31, 2007 6:42 PM
Posted by Colton | July 31, 2007 6:46 PM

Mr. Poe @7 has certainly put me in my place. Only a dumbass like me would allow his eyes to fall on one of the three places @3 that reveal the body count while scrolling past.

Posted by lostboy | July 31, 2007 6:54 PM

@ lostboy

Where did he reveal a bodycount? Man, you are a dumbass.

Posted by Milo | July 31, 2007 7:23 PM


Posted by lostboy | July 31, 2007 7:39 PM

Personally, I always love your reviews.. I don't sweat spoilers too much. If it is a movie I am really worried about, I make sure to be at the theater for the first screening. I don't get too worried about spoilers that I would read about. They don't ruin a movie for me.

Posted by Clint | August 1, 2007 9:20 AM


Just admit it. You didn't even try to scroll down. So, I barely move my finger on my scroller, and I roll right down halfway past Levislade's post. You scroll down, and you not only notice the three areas that reveal the warned spoilers, you also notice the explained YouTube marketing plan.

So, which one is it?

a.) You are a dumbass
b.) You want to bitch at me for displaying spoilers even though I used bold tags to warn everyone (dumbass) c.) You magically broke your finger immediately before scrolling down, causing you to continue reading since you cannot scroll (dumbass)
d.) All of the above

Lucky for you, there are no wrong answers! Good luck!

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 1, 2007 10:44 AM

Stardust was better.


Posted by Will in Seattle | August 1, 2007 10:49 AM

I was cheesed that Warners gave away one of the biggest plot points of the upcoming "Watchmen" film -- in a press release announcing the greenlighting of said film. Just tell us the story, don't bother making it, why don't you.

Posted by --MC | August 1, 2007 11:37 AM

How long do you have to wait after something is released before you can discuss it without worrying about spoilers? Or can we still not talk about The Crying Game?

Posted by NaFun | August 1, 2007 12:06 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).