Sunshine

"The only dream I ever have is the surface of the Sun. Every time I shut my eyes, it's all I ever see."

[My review will not spoil the end of this movie for you; minimal spoilage.]

It is the year 2057. The Sun is growing colder, and life on Earth is in danger of extinction. Eight astronauts on the ship Icarus 2 are on a mission to re-ignite the Sun. Things go wrong, as things in movies always do, and difficult decisions must be made.

There was a lot for me to like about this movie. The acting was very good; I particularly liked Cillian Murphy as Capa and Chris Evans as Mace, although I must admit that many of the other characters didn't stand out much for me. The best thing was how they dealt practically and seamlessly with the monumental technology that would be needed to get so close to the Sun. I particularly liked the immense, gorgeous, rippling heat shield, and the way it was used as a dramatic device.

The Sun is a character in this movie, a great big metaphor for death as well as life. It's always there, this monumental threat lurking behind everything the characters say and do, the acknowledgment that people are so tiny and inconsequential and yet are daring to try to change a star, like a human attacking a god. The astronauts all dream about falling into the Sun; they're fascinated by it, like prey staring at a cobra before it strikes. And I thought it was particularly clever, the way the scenes on the ship got darker as the astronauts got closer to literally unbearable brightness.

The Icarus 1 bits on Mercury were interesting at first, and set the end in motion, but I think I would have been happier if they'd left them out or done them another way. But then again, that would mean the mission would have been carried out perfectly, and that would have made this movie more like a fictional documentary. Can't have that.

Part of me tends to prefer science fiction that is more realistic, and that's what we have here: no killer robots or homicidal aliens. (Not that there's anything wrong with killer robots and homicidal aliens.) Yes, it got slightly confusing and a bit metaphysical in the end, but I liked it enough to watch it twice, and that's rare for me these days. If you like realistic sci-fi and haven't caught it yet, you might want to give it a try.
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

Mark Greig said...

I enjoyed Sunshine for the first two thirds. It was a fascinating character drama with some great directorial touches by Danny Boyle. It was like he was trying to create a hybrid of 2001 and Alien and for the most part he succeeded. Sadly the final act does let the whole thing down as the film suddenly becomes disappointingly predictable. Still, even an unsatisfactory Danny Boyle is alwasy worthy of a look in.