107 minutes approx
Written by -
Directed by -
The sun is dying and an attempt to reignite its core to provide a smaller, but more intense, star was lost. Now the Icarus II, a new ship, is following its attempt, the last time that this will be possible as all the materials that are required have been mined out of the planet. If this mission fails then all life on Earth will be extinguished.
So when a distress signal from the original Icarus is discovered, the crew have to decide whether to abandon the hope of the crew being still alive after several years and continue the mission or to take the chance that the Icarus is still functional and will provide two opportunities for the success of the mission.
When they choose to dock with the Icarus, they find that the crew destroyed themselves in the face of some sort of rapture coming from being so close to the source of all life, a representation of the mind of God. When things start to go catastrophically wrong, it becomes clear that the same rapture might be affecting members of the crew or there might be something else aboard. Something altogether more sinister.
SUNSHINE comes from the minds of the people who brought us TRAINSPOTTING and 28 DAYS LATER. It has the same cinema verite almost documentary style that works perfectly here, giving events a sense of immediacy and danger that serves the story well. In every other way, though, this is a blockbuster film that looks absolutely stunning in almost every scene. The ship, its shield searing with the unimaginable temperatures of the approaching sun, is rendered in utterly believable fashion, giving a realistic backdrop to the incredible events unfolding.
Much of the plotting is straightforward sci-fi by numbers in which one ship locates its predecessor (THE BLACK HOLE,EVENT HORIZON) and changes its course or mission, things go disastrously wrong (MISSION TO MARS,RED PLANET) leaving the crew with terrible decisions to make (LIFEPOD) and then they come close to touching the unknowable divine (2001-A SPACE ODYSSEY). It's this last point that causes the most problems with the film. As the Icarus II reaches the sun and prepares to deliver its payload, the point where time, space and mind become interchangeable is reached and it all goes a bit inexplicable. It doesn't ruin the film, but it does let it down just a bit at the very end.
Cillian Murphy is the lead of the film, but it is a truly ensemble piece with everyone contributing and the lack of real star wattage means that anyone and everyone is expendable. That means you never know what's going to happen next.
The true star of the film, though, is the sun, the centre and source of all life on earth. The sheer destructive force of it is always there, casting a shadow (if the sun ever could a shadow) over everything and everyone. It is easy to believe that people could become obsessed by it and that strange things could happen so close to it.
The special effects are flawless, but this is a film about the human beings aboard the ship and their encounter with either the divine or their impression of it. In a year that also brought us THE FOUNTAIN this is a sign that intelligent, thoughtful science fiction is still alive and well and capable of extraordinary things.
SUNSHINE is startling science fiction and deserves to be seen by a crossover audience, though it is unlikely to make that crossover. More's the pity.Top
If this page was useful to you please sign our