reviewed by Andrew James
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).
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**
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.
IMDb profile - full cast and crew
Flixster Profile for Sunshine