Monday, April 9, 2007
SUNSHINE (2007) - Danny Boyle
2057. Earth is heading for extinction as the sun, the giver of life is quickly dying. In an attempt to save the human race from extinction, a solitary ship, the Icarus II, with a thermo nuclear payload is sent to re-ignite our solar system's star. The Icarus II is the second ship to be sent on this mission. The Icarus I, the forerunner, having disappeared seven years previous.
On board the Icarus II are an assortment of scientists and astronauts. Each of them is fully aware of what is at stake here, and they will do everything in their power to complete their mission. Along the way, they pick up a distress call from Icarus I, and deciding to change course to investigate, they put the mission, their lives, and the lives of all humanity at risk.
The people that brought us 2002's 28 Days Later, team up once again for Sunshine. Sunshine harks back to the intelligent sci-fi of the sixties and seventies. In fact, another Brit sci-fi film from the late nineties, Even Horizon, is the film which Sunshine most reminded me of. However, Sunshine is a far better film than Paul W.S. Anderson's work. There is a question of the nature of divinity within the film. One character in particular raises the question as to whether the death of the sun is an act of god, and if it is right for us, as his creation, to stand in the way of his plan. In this respect, the film is akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which also raised the question of the nature of man, albeit in a more enigmatic manner.
Primarily, Sunshine is a sensorial experience. The images of the sun burn through the screen, leaving you almost feeling sunburned by the images. The soundtrack is deep and booming. The snapping and creaking of the ship, as it expands and contracts with the heat really adding to the experience. Danny Boyle's direction is spot on, pacing the film perfectly. Alex Garland's script is tense and engaging, while not being overly complicated. There is a mission to be completed. And the mission is paramount. There is no doubt that everybody is expendable if it means success.
The characters are well fleshed out, never descending into the cliches that might be expected from a genre film. Their relationships are very real and believable within the context of the film. And the cast, led by Cillian Murphy, fit their roles very well.
Sunshine is a great piece of sci-fi for 2007. It's good to see that there are still original pieces of work being produced outside of the Hollywood system. Recommended.