Year 2057, the Sun is slowly dying, threatening life on Earth. Seven years ago, a spaceship was sent with a payload to re-ignite it. For unknown reasons, the spaceship and its crew were lost and failed in their mission. In a last attempt, using all the fissile material left on Earth, a second spaceship is sent to the Sun…
Sunshine, by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millonaire…) tells us the journey of the crew, sent to the Sun in a last hope to reanimate it. The movie is set on board the Icarus II, plunged into a ubiquitous darkness, paradoxically bathing in sunlight.
The movie starts with an economical, but effective introduction to the eight crew members, stuck together on a several-year-long journey to our star. Each of them has a very specific role on the ship: Robert Capa (Cillian Murphy) is the physicist operating the star-bomb device, Mace (Chris Evans) the engineer, Cassie (Rose Byrne) the pilot, Corazon (Michelle Yeoh) the biologist in charge of the ‘oxygen garden’, Searle (Cliff Curtis) the ‘obsessed by the sun’ psychiatrist, Harvey (Troy Garity) the communications officer and second in command, Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) the ship’s captain and Trey (Benedict Wong) the navigator. The claustrophobic atmosphere provided by the setting and each character’s responsibility quickly turns the movie into an intense psychological nightmare when things start to turn wrong.
Visually, the movie is simply amazing. The contrast between the darkness inside the ship, and the ocean of light blown by the Sun outside is strikingly rendered. The immersion is total, and the Sun-exposure scenes are literally breathtaking. It is indeed all about the Sun, which is here the main ‘character’, mesmerizing and almighty: it is like a god, by which the crew is fascinated and terrified, at its mercy and yet constrained to face it.
Because each member of the crew is indispensable for the sake of their mission, the atmosphere gets even more oppressive. Unfortunately this does not look too realistic. Indeed, who would plan such a mission without taking as many precautions as possible, especially when the previous attempt already failed? The film is indeed supposed to be scientifically accurate, at least plausible. This is not really the case here, as Boyle took a few liberties with the laws of physics…
Another noticeable element is the turn taken by the plot at some point, succumbing to the slasher sub-genre, jarring with the quality of the film-making so far: some viewers might be disappointed with this choice, which is, according to me, indeed questionable.
However, Sunshine has a lot to offer. It is a stunningly beautiful space odyssey, visually amazing, that should delight many sci-fi lovers.
DVD Release Date: 27/08/2007
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Mark Strong, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh