Retro Review: Sunshine

Sunshine (2007)
Sunshine poster Rating: 7.3/10 (196,441 votes)
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, Rose Byrne
Runtime: 107 min
Rated: R
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Released: 27 Jul 2007
Plot: A team of international astronauts are sent on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb in 2057.

With T2:Trainspotting out at present, here’s a review from ten years ago, recovered from the archive, of Boyle’s epic space adventure.

Danny Boyle is a director that refuses to be pigeon-holed. Yes, his first few films (Shallow Grave and Trainspotting) had a certain feel to them, but then he sprung A Life Less Ordinary onto the slightly bemused public, and also The Beach. After that he switched to digital film for the gritty and chilling 28 Days Later, before deciding that he ought to make a family friendly film (of sorts) in the guise of Millions. All differently toned films, with differing styles. So, when he announced he was making a sci-fi about a mission to the sun, who knew what to expect? Would it be an action packed blockbuster, would it be gritty ‘Alien-esque’ tension, or perhaps Solaris-paced cerebral story? The answer is a little bit of all three.

The time is the future, and the Sun in slowly dying. Mankind’s last hope for survival is a mission to launch a bomb into the core of our life-giving star and ‘jump-start’ its heart. Enter the stunning craft Icarus 2, and the on-board team of scientists, pilots, and tech experts. They are truly the planet’s last chance, as the previous mission lost contact and vanished. The crew on Icarus 2 are well into their mission, and some tensions and rivalries, along with a few obsessions, have built up. Mace (Chris Evans – almost unrecognizable at the start of the film) and Capa (the ever excellent Cillian Murphy) have a few disagreements, whilst Searle (Cliff Curtis) ‘bathes’ in the dangerous rays from the sun. It seems, as the crew prepare to enter the ‘dead zone’ area where all contact with Earth will be lost, that boredom and frustration is settling in. Then, not long after entering the zone, they pick up a distress signal from Icarus 1. This one event triggers a series of problems for the team that may put their mission, their lives, and the fate of all mankind at risk.

Sunshine owes a great deal to films such as 2001, and Event Horizon, amongst others. From pan-shots of the craft moving through space, to the strange events on the Icarus 1, all the moments in the film have some origin in another films elsewhere. However this isn’t a bad thing as in Boyle’s skilled hands he has built up an impressive sci-fi drama with a cast who (especially in Evans’ case) have seemed to step up a gear. The interplay between the inhabitants of Icarus is reminiscent of those of Nostromo in Alien, totally believable and well written. As the events of the film come to pass the relationships are stretched and pulled, and the cast throw themselves into the drama.

This is a film to see on the big screen in order to appreciate the amazing visuals on offer. The majesty of the Icarus is a sight to behold. With a soundtrack to compliment the visuals, the end experience is a good one. Sure, you’ve seen it all before, but just because you had gateau last week doesn’t mean you don’t want to eat it again, does it? Treat yourself to Sunshine.

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