Written by: Constantce
As far as horror movies go, Sunshine is a disappointment. That said, Sunshine is beautiful and exciting, science fiction at its best. Like in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, the apocalyptic theme is strong, but in Sunshine, there is a major shot at redemption, at “saving the world.” The sun is dying, and after a failed attempt by the Icarus I to send a bomb to the sun to jump start it, a second Icarus is on its way.
Sunshine. Not sunlight. The idea of “shine” holds more warmth than “light,” and it also has a more human touch. It better depicts the idea of unity with the sun that is so important to the characters. The title was eyebrow raising before I saw the movie, but now it makes perfect sense.
The beginning of the movie sets up the futuristic technologies, and it makes an incomprehensible concept, flying into the sun, actually seem possible. The crew members are geniuses and experts. Each are appealing in different ways. Because there are so many different personalities on board the Icarus II, it’s likely you will relate to at least one of them, which ups the immediacy of the mission. Cillian Murphy is featured as Capa, the staff physicist. He is so beautiful that it makes me sick, his huge blue eyes a window to the character’s idealism. Fighting him with dark realism is Mace (Chris Evans), an engineer, and it seems that this is going to become the predominate struggle. The action takes big swings, becoming more unpredictable.
One of the neatest things about the movie is the use of the observation deck, where the crew members can view the sun through a filter. Ironically, Searle, the psych officer (Cliff Curtis) spends a lot of time in there, even singeing himself, proving that no amount of preparation and testing can get someone ready for this kind of mission. The responsibility is too huge to comprehend. Things fall apart, to borrow a phrase from W.B. Yeats, but can humanity power through the challenges to do the right thing?
Near the end, the movie takes a turn toward horror, with a sort-of monster and a bunch of blood. It didn’t really work for me, even though I could see what Boyle was trying to do. The Pinbacker character was described in an interview with Boyle as a Taliban like fundamentalist, which is a very real concept, but I thought it was presented in a way that was too unrealistic, even if I did enjoy the wildly abstract directing in the last twenty minutes of the movie.
You might be confused how I could give this movie tens across the board for acting, FX, directing, sound, etc., and only an eight for the overall rating. The plot disconnect and the lack of continuity between SF and horror brought the whole down a few notches for me. I give tens to each of the other parts with all sincerity.
Sunshine is equal parts a Ray Bradbury story, Armageddon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and 28 Days Later. Even though the opening previews on the DVD were horror movies, this movie is not straight edge horror, so don’t go into it thinking that’s the case. But if you enjoy SF, as well as horror, you will probably find Sunshine smart and inspiring.