The sun is dying. The only way to save Earth is to reignite the sun by sending a bomb into the heart of it. Eight astronauts have been chosen to bring the bomb the incredible distance and make sure that it goes off, effectively saving mankind. The spaceship that they are piloting is the Icarus II, the Icarus I was already sent, lost contact with Earth and wasn’t heard from again. Without knowing what happened to the previous mission, the astronauts of the Icarus II have to do their best to complete the mission while hopefully not making the same mistakes. After all, it’s only the fate of the world that hangs in the balance.
Directed by Danny Boyle, Sunshine is a visual masterpiece. The images that we are presented with as the Icarus II drifts through space are breathtakingly beautiful. The cinematography is top notch and the feelings of seclusion and confinement in direct opposition to the vastness of space is one of the most effective depictions of space travel and the corresponding physiological impact. Boyle really gets into what these conditions will do to a person’s mind.
Each of the eight astronauts reacts to the circumstances differently. The best performance comes from Cilian Murphy who plays Cappa, the physicist who is in charge of the bomb. His depictions of the silent outsider is perfect for the character. He knows more than anyone what needs to be done to complete the mission but he doesn’t want the responsibility of making the tough decisions. He’s willing to though, and we see his transformation into a leader when push comes to shove. Rose Bryne was also a great choice as Cassie, the pilot. She added real depth to some of the more difficult decisions that have to be made. At one point she says, “You’re saying you need my vote. I’m saying you can’t have it.” It’s moments like these that really highlight the different personalities that are on board. Finally, although not the best performance in the film, Chris Evans’ character, Mace, the engineer, really resonated as the voice of reason in the film. He was a good counterweight of logic to the other emotional characters. Also, Chris Evans is really nice to look at.
Sunshine has been criticized for it’s technical inaccuracies but if you take it at face value and let yourself believe in the world of the film, it really is a great ride. More important than the scientific accuracy of the film is the physiological accuracy of the characters, and Boyle made a determinate effort to honestly portray the reactions of the characters after a prolonged period of time in space.
On a slightly negative note, the ending leaves something to be desired. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to the first two thirds of the movie. It isn’t terrible but it does go a little sideways and there are a couple of “Really?” moments.
All in all, Sunshine is incredibly beautiful to watch, and although the plot may seem a bit illogical at times and the ending takes a very bizarre turn, it is definitely worth seeing. The performances are very well done, the cinematography, visual effects and the directing are top notch. Even though I do see it’s faults, it remains one of my personal favourites. Give it a watch and let me know what you think.
Also, the people who named the spaceship Icarus… are they not familiar with Greek mythology?