Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” Movie Review

Sunshine posterWes Hemings Review

Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” was inspired by writer Alex Garland’s reading of an article about the heat death of the universe. Garland had an established relationship with Boyle from writing two of the director’s previous films “The Beach” and “28 Days Later”. Taking place in the year 2057, our nearest star is dying out and mankind has launched the Icarus II, the ship carrying the second attempt to carry a bomb the size of Manhattan to the Sun in order to reignite it. The first attempt failed for reasons unknown and due to the lack of resources to create another bomb, there will not be a third chance.

I like Sci-Fi movies, a lot. I was a big fan of Duncan Jones’ “Moon”, and remember “Alien” and more specifically “Aliens” being redefining moments of what I considered state of the art filmmaking when I was very young and anything that approaches the level of Ridley Scott or James Cameron can only be called a worthy accomplishment. Where the enemy in “Alien” was a physical entity (duh, an alien), the villain here is one of the most basic needs for the survival of all life on Earth: the Sun. The Sun really becomes another character in the movie, and Boyle does a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere that delivers nothing but awe and respect by using spectacular visual effects of the Sun in all its might set against our “little engine that could”, the Icarus II.

Why you’ll like it:
A dark Sci-Fi tale set in space. Reminiscent of “Solaris” or “2001”.
Great visuals accompanied by a fantastic score and pitch perfect acting.

The visual effects are made far more effective by the use of a score that builds a sense of grand urgency and the atmosphere is such that you feel swallowed whole by the mission at hand. The tone of seriousness is carried by the actors thoroughly, and they all tote the ideology that their life is wholly expendable by comparison of the task they’ve set out to accomplish.

Each character plays a very specific role in the mission, Cillian Murphy is the thought-filled physicist Robert Capa, who bares the weight as the only person who understands how the bomb works. Chris Evans is Mace, the ship’s engineer and perhaps the most intense crew member, he never hesitates to coldly calculate reality and beats the drum constantly to remind his shipmates the highest priorities. Maybe the most fun is had by the crew’s doctor and psychologist Searle, played by Cliff Curtis. He comes across as if he’s never left the Earth, perhaps the only crerw member with a sense of freedom and even comes across as a tad unstable, but it’s probably the smiley friendliness he’s retained set against everyone else’s sober demeanor. The rest of the crew is fleshed out by a biologist (“Memoirs of a Geish”‘s Michelle Yeoh), the pilot (Rose Byrne), a communications officer, navigator and the ship’s captain.

Why you won’t like it:
There is no humor here, the tone of this movie never lets up and is a slow steady crescendo of the highest gravity.

The vision for the crew itself was smartly designed around the thought that in 50 years the leading space programs would be Asian and American, so you have a very culturally diverse crew to represent that this is about humankind and the global effort reflects as much.

Try as I might, I can’t really fault the film for anything. I personally can appreciate a movie with a serious tone, so the lack of comedic mood lightener does not bother me in the slightest. I was already a big fan of Danny Boyle from his work on “28 Days Later” where he reinvented the zombie genre, but to me this will probably always be his biggest triumph. I wish it would’ve performed far better than it did in the theaters to justify more larger budget Science Fiction movies (this one cost in the neighborhood of $40 million). From the acting, music, gorgeous style and set-design, this film hits on all cylinders. The only problem with this film is you didn’t see it in all its artistic glory on the big screen, believe me when I say it was stunning.

5 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Cliff Curtis, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans
Director: Danny Boyle
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.
Release Date: July 20, 2007
Genre: Science Fiction