January 31, 2015


Sunshine (2007). Danny Boyle’s ode to Alien and any number of other science fiction films is an effective and grim enterprise. It’s set in the near-future, when the sun is dying and life on earth hangs in jeopardy. Several years before the movie takes place, a spacecraft, the Icarus, was sent to blast a payload of nukes into the sun to try and revitalize it. That craft and her crew have not been heard from since, and now a new team must repeat the journey aboard the Icarus II. Only this time, there can be no mistakes. The payload aboard the Icarus II is the last of its kind, apparently due to the earth’s depleting resources. The crew should have known better than to name either one of their space ships after the boy who flew too close to the sun and then died. But Boyle of course cannot resist such an allusion, and we are filled with grim expectation as the movie pounds away, and bad situation after bad situation confronts the characters. We are filled with the stark realization that no good is going to come of this. As grim as Alien’s plot is, I always have a good time watching it, perhaps because I know that the entire survival of the planet isn’t at stake. But Sunshine, like too many films of late, must experience conflict on only the grandest of scales. In the last third of the movie, Boyle introduces a particularly strange (and none too well explained) plot element involving a possibly supernatural presence on board the ship, and at that point I stopped caring entirely. The performances, however, are convincing. The cast includes Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Benedict Wong.

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