The sub-genre of science fiction films involving a team of humans trying to avert a global catastrophe by setting off a huge nuclear device in just the right place is not a particularly impressive one. Armageddon. Independence Day. The Core. What do all these films have in common, aside from the nuclear business?

No. They’re not palindromes. Idiot! They all suck. Sunshine, therefore, can’t really be said to take its place alongside these films, as it kind of rocks.

Rarely does a film set on a spaceship feel this real. This is partly due to the obligatory beautiful computer imagery, but more to do with the characters. Cillian Murphy’s Capa is a surprisingly believable science nerd — weedy and distant, but oddly compelling. Rose Byrne proves once again how wonderful she is — as is necessary in a film like this, she’s got that indefinable ‘please don’t kill her, I know everyone is most likely doomed but please don’t kill her‘ factor in spades. The film is quite comfortable exploring the sanity and foibles of its characters, too, and the time spent with all of the crew and how they maintain their sanity under pressure is perhaps the key to its realism.

But even more important than Sunshine‘s reality is its freakiness, courtesy of Danny Boyle. The bizarre, yet convincing mechanics of the aforementioned nuclear device. The unsettling techniques used as the crew explore unknown territory.1 Re-using the idea of quantum uncertainty when the ultimate threat to the mission becomes apparent. Sunshine feels a lot cleverer as a result.

The film has been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it does have some of that film’s peculiar calm, yet subtly terrifying mood. It’s also been compared to Alien, which is also fair — once again a bunch of humans are trapped in impossible circumstances, and display just how crap they are, deep down. And it can also be compared to those movies I mentioned above; it may be cleverer, but it occasionally stoops to the old formula a shade too much, and late in the piece suffers a little from that old chestnut — repeating past dialogue in voiceover to make a point that would only have been missed otherwise by Mr Gumby.

In the end though, it’s just nice change to have some science fiction horror with a little thought and feeling put into it. With any luck, Sunshine represents popular cinema making science fiction spectaculars respectable again.

  1. I’m being deliberately vague here. Awkwardly, yes, but it’s for your own good.
Only dream I ever have... is the surface of the sun... everytime I shut my eyes... it's always the same. — Cassie

12 Responses to “Sunshine”

  1. The review was worth the wait… You got my vote, I’ll watch it as soon as priority 10 is reached on my list. ;)

    PS: Uhhh, I wonder what that unknown territory is… Is it Mars? It couldn’t be! I know Mars like the back of my hand. Could it be the Sun itself?

  2. Just so you don’t get too excited, the deliberate vagueness in that sentence is not so much protecting where they’re going but the directorial techniques used to freak you out at the time.

  3. If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about, then a similar thing was done in Red Planet, although in less interesting fashion.

  4. Mmmm. It’s probably not original but it was good.

  5. Oh Danny Boyle. Is there anything you can’t do?I’ll probably see this film. At some point. Only other Danny Boyle I’ve seen is 28 Days Later, but one day I’ll get onto “that Trainspotting film.” And why not? It has Ewan MacGregor’s ween. What more could a cinemagoer possibly want?Ew. I just typed the ‘word’ “ween.” This is what happens at 12.30. My brain commits intellectual suicide.kthxbai.

  6. I think it was very original, in the sense that anything can be original. It’s certainly not derivative in any sort of sense that warrants criticism.

  7. Oh and also, have sex with himself. I’m reasonably sure that’s impossible.

  8. he might have a really really big penis. or both. isn’t masturbation technically sex anyway??

    mmm. crossing boundaries.

  9. “both” meaning, a penis and a vagina.just, y’know. in case you were wondering.

    …I’m going to go and take some medication now.

  10. If there was ever any class on this website, you two have eroded it.

    I hope you’re happy.

  11. Some fancy big review review site:“Atypicalreview has well-worded well-witted reviews subtly alluding and intriguing the visitor to watch or experience every reviewed item himself. If it weren’t for the bottomless comments by Tom’s friends.”

  12. Oh, I am happy. You’d better believe I’m happy.Mwahahahahaetcetcetc.