Film Reviews


By • Jul 20th, 2007 •

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Fox Searchlight and DNA Films in association with U.K. Film Council and Ingenious Film Partners present a DNA Films production
Running time — 108 minutes / MPAA rating: R

Fascinating thought-provoking religious-psychological sci-fi thriller.

We have all heard that our 4.5 billion years old sun is dying. It has used up about half of its nuclear fuel and in approximately 5 billion years from now, our sun will begin to die.

Or, as SUNSHINE presents it, something happens in 2057 and our sun is on its deathbed. The planet is freezing. Something must be done. A spaceship, Icarus, was sent to throw a bomb into the sun and revive it. Icarus never reached its destination, so Icarus ll takes off seven years later with eight crew-members. The crew is led by Capt. Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada). The communications officer, Harvey (Troy Garity), hears a distress signal from Icarus l. As they are out of radio contact with Earth and on close course to their target, the crew has to decide if they ignore the signal or go on a rescue mission?

The fate of mankind is at stake.

Each crew member chimes in. The consensus is to ignore the signal since no one could possibly be alive. Only one crew-member’s opinion, physicist Capa (Cillian Murphy), matters to the Captain. Capa wants the bomb aboard Icarus l as back-up insurance. Navigation officer Trey (Benedict Wong), without bothering to get fellow crew members input, makes a grave miscalculation. They go wildly off course.

Before Icarus ll can get to Icarus l, Capa and Kaneda have to do a space walk to repair damage done to the ship’s shield. Like the great spacewalk in Kubrick’s 2001, this is a dangerous mission that might not work.

The repair effort damages the ship’s most important asset, the oxygen garden, which feeds the crew and has been the pride of biologist Corazon (Michelle Yeoh). There is not enough oxygen left for all the members onboard.

On Icarus l, the crew sees that its garden is thriving and intentional sabotage kept its bomb from reaching the sun.

Back on Icarus ll, the computer has calculated just how much oxygen is needed to complete the mission and return to Earth now that an unknown “crew member” is aboard.

SUNSHINE raises a question that it answers in the affirmative: If God plans our sun to die, do we interfere?

But what if a crew-member got a message from God saying, “Mind your own business”?

This fascinating ideological premise is abstractly presented and obscured by “SUNSHINE’s quick turn into a horror flick with a sunburned villain (or is he God’s handyman?) on a rampage.

Director Danny Boyle effectively brings a sharp tension to the isolated crew faced with boredom, bent-up testosterone, then disaster. The visual effects and production design are terrific. Most of the crew is unfortunately shortchanged in character development. I didn’t even know that Chris Evans (as Mace) was in the movie until he got a haircut and shaved. How’s that for building a character? Rose Byrne (as Cassie) is also a placeholder without a firm character. I would like to believe that only strong-willed, highly motivated zealots would be chosen to throw a bomb into the sun.

Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriter: Alex Garland
Producer: Andrew Macdonald
Cinematographer: Alwin H. Kuchler
Production designer: Mark Tildesley
Music: John Murphy, Underworld
Co-producer: Bernard Bellew
Visual effects supervisor: Tom Wood
Costume designer: Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Editor: Chris Gill

Capa: Cillian Murphy
Corazon: Michelle Yeoh
Cassie: Rose Byrne
Harvey: Troy Garity
Capt. Kaneda: Hiroyuki Sanada
Trey: Benedict Wong
Pinbacker: Mark Strong
Mace: Chris Evans
Searle: Cliff Curtis
Voice of Icarus: Chipo Chung

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