Sunshine
Director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, 28 Days Later)
Writer: Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later)
Producer: Andrew Macdonald
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Troy Garity
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 108 min
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
     Director Danny Boyle seems to love to take on scripts in which the main thrust of the story always takes a strange turn in the final quarter of the film, thus deteriorating the overall quality of the movie by one or two potential stars. With Sunshine, he seems to have not learned from his past mistakes and takes a potentially 5 star film and drives it into the ground making just another mediocre space adventure that won't come close to my top 10 of the year I don't believe.

      Taking place in 2057, Sunshine joins the crew of Icarus II: a space vessel bound for the sun with one mission: deploy a theoretical explosive device into the sun, thus reigniting it before it can die out and all of humanity is lost. Earth lost contact with the first Icarus space vessel and it was lost for unknown reasons. The crew of Icarus II has vowed to not let that happen with their mission.

      This is arguably the most beautiful of all the films released this year and easily of Boyle's career. It has absolutely stunningly gorgeous shots of the sun from various angles and distances. Each shot could not have lasted long enough for my tastes. One in particular, where we get to watch, along with the crew, as Mercury's shadow moves slowly across the face of the planet. It seems so real and that scene could've lasted for 15 mintues and I would have been content. There are several of these types of shots throughout the picture that just captivated my imagination; and those of the crew (almost too much captivation for some of the crew members).

      The crew consists of several recognizable faces: Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Cliff Curtis (Blow, Die Hard 4.0) and the beautiful Rose Byrne (28 Weeks Later). All of the characters play their roles extremely well and believably. A few intense moments really show case what these actors can do. But most note-worthy I think was the acting of Chris Evans. Most recognizable as his portrayal of Johnny Storm in the "Fantastic" Four franchise, who would have thought he could pull off such an emotionally heavy role in a fairly serious film. Is it Oscar worthy? Probably not, but he most definitely caught me off guard with his abilities and I'm instantly a fan. Hopefully he'll do more stuff like this and go the way of a Ryan Gosling or Edward Norton and steer clear of the Hollywood, comic book crap.

      On the surface, the film is just sort of another space flight, adventure story where things are bound to go wrong (e.g. Aliens or The Abyss). But quickly it becomes obvious that this is more than just another sci-fi flick. It is laden with moral choices and ethical questions. Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one and when it comes time to make a life or death decision, can those needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one when you are the one to possibly be sacrificed? The film sort of cops out of answering these questions after asking them, but that's okay. Instead, we get to think about it for ourselves: what would I do in that moral dilemma (of which there are several)?

      Mentioning that things go wrong during the mission is an understatement. The film is a series of mishaps, malfunctions and human error all placed in the world of the unknown; or at least the world of the theoretical at best. This is where science and astronomy knowledge comes into play. The more you have the more realistic and believable things become. The science within the movie is fairly accurate, but toyed with just a bit for the sake of an action-packed story.

**some might consider this next paragraph a slight spoiler**

      As mentioned, with about 35 minutes left in the film, the story takes a complete u-turn in plot and becomes a completely different film; and not in a good way at all. Before, the villain was claustrophobia, the sun's destructive heat, the frigid cold of space, the crew's psyche and the ship's malfunctions. But introducing an entirely new villain with 35 minutes left is not a good idea and that is proven with Sunshine. The story utterly collapses and nearly fails as a film because of it. All of the intensity and excitement that was there wears off immediately for one of the bigger "wtf?" moments of the year. It's a real shame. The directing style also takes a strange turn here and seems to literally a completely different movie with some of the same characters in the same environment.

      Despite the horribly misplaced third act, the rest of the film is an absolute joy to watch. So good in fact, that I won't hesitate to see this again on DVD release day; though it is a "must see on the big screen" film that is not to be missed on as large of a screen as you can find. The acting is there, the directing is there, the excitement, energy and intensity is there and the visual style is of the highest caliber. The first hour and thirty minutes of the movie is some of my favorite material of the year so far and I'm glad I saw it. I just wish Boyle would take some creative control over his scriptwriter.
     


Trailer and Clips from Sunshine:


Links:
IMDb profile - full cast and crew
Official Site
Production Blog
Flixster Profile for Sunshine




 





andrew@moviepatron.com