[[image:sunshine01.jpg:The shieldship with the bomb:left:0]]I just saw this movie on a THX screen and it was quite a ride. I liked it very much. Absolutely no spoilers ahead.
Danny Boyle directs this movie and what he did was create an atmosphere that doesn’t not really accentuate claustrophobia or xenophobia. What Sunshine has instead is a layer of despair and hopelessness which barely registers but hangs over the proceedings like a thin film. You can almost feel the despair being radiated by the characters and the situation mounting as the movie progresses.
Sunshine gets right to the point with Cilian Murphy’s voiceover. It’s 50 years in the future and the sun is dying, and with it the slowly-freezing Earth. The crew of the Icarus II (a shieldship right out of the pages of Dark Force Rising, heh!) has been tasked with the delivery of a Manhattan Island-massed bomb which would theoretically re-ignite the sun. Apart from the personal conflicts that arise after being cooped up on the spaceship for 16 months or so, they suddenly rediscover the Icarus I, the first ship that went on a similar mission 7 years earlier but was lost.
Then things start to go nuts.
[[image:sunshine02.jpg:Who the hell named the ship Icarus? How prophetic is that?:right:0]]Overall, the eerie creepiness of the lighting and sound design was very effective. Especially during the first two-thirds of the movie, which was very unnerving at parts.
The movie aspire to be in the same vein as the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, it falls short for several reasons.
We know that there seem to be some psychological changes to some of the crew because of the sun’s effect on them, like the preoccupation to view with the naked eye the sun’s deadly light and radiation. The story would be much richer if they had featured other speculative psychological oddities caused by the dying sun. The depression (and probably suicide) cause by seasonal affective disorder on Earth must be monumental. And they should have tied it into the reasons why Capa is so laid back and passive, why Cassie is scared and why Mace – clearly the standout character thanks to Chris Evan’s determined performance – is so driven. This would have increased the value to its story.
The other thing about it is the in-universe technical inconsistencies. For example, it appears the Icarus II has artificial gravity throughout the entire length of its body, and not just its rotating sections. Which of course poses the question why does it need rotating sections? I can go on about their other technology that they have with them like holograms and an artificial intelligence, also named Icarus, in the vein of the Nostromo‘s Mother and Discovery One‘s HAL 9000. But I’m not going to.
Sufficed to say, you can enjoy Sunshine for what it is: A look at a group of people on what might be a suicide mission, facing malfunctions, missteps and madness. Do they all make it? Not telling. But you can be sure of some suspenseful and nail-biting scenes with some fantastic effects shot of the sun as they draw closer to it.