Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Danny Boyle
Eight crew members populate the Icarus 2, and at the start of the film they're eighteen months into their journey. Living on a spaceship for that length of time is sending them all a bit stir-crazy and giving the psych officer Searle (Cliff Curtis) plenty to occupy himself with. Searle himself seems a bit strange, preoccupied with notions of bathing in sunlight for its calming properties.
Their important but otherwise smooth journey changes abruptly for the worse when the crew make a discovery on the approach to the sun. Do they change course and risk jeopardising the mission, or carry on as before in spite of what they have found out? At this point Sunshine shows its true colours: the sci-fi plot is nothing but a peg to hang a horror story on, with a touch of disaster movie thrown in for good measure. In the tense, claustrophobic environment of the space station the crew are engaged in a race against time to save the world, if they can stay alive long enough to do so.
This film is certainly suspenseful, if a touch arty in places, using subliminal-style flashes and odd pauses in some scenes. Moreover, there's ample opportunity for characters to engage in noble acts of self-sacrifice. It has to be said that this aspect is overdone.
It's hard to believe, but Sunshine actually had the assistance of a scientific advisor from CERN involved in its creation. In the DVD extras he explains how the science had to play second fiddle to the dramatic elements in this movie. As is often the case, the movie's makers underestimate the intelligence of any adult moviegoers with at least a smattering of an interest in science. It doesn't take someone with a specialised science education to know that the sun isn't due to burn out in the next century, or to realise that their proposed method for re-igniting it is simply absurd.
Judged as science fantasy, however, Sunshine comes off only a little better. It is well paced and the acting is convincing. But it's a derivative story, basically another version of Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street set in space. Sunshine is just a little dull and predictable.
If you like this, try:2012 by Roland Emmerich
People face earthquakes, volcanoes, and the end of days in this apocalyptic disaster movie.
Pandorum by Christian Alvart
Two crew members wake to amnesia, darkness and fear on board a failing spacecraft in this science fiction horror.
Event Horizon by Paul Anderson
A crew is sent to recover a spacecraft beyond Neptune. But where has the lost craft been, and what has it brought back with it?