You Gotta See This: Sunshine

Stars: Cillain Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis

Rated R for violent content and language, 2007, Thriller/Science Fiction/Drama

Compare to: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Alien (1979)

Of all the “We’ve gotta destroy something huge to save Earth” movies, Sunshine (2007) is my favorite. It takes a ridiculous story and makes it feel intriguing and credible. It gives you characters you actually don’t want to die(!). I’m under the mindset that if you have a reasonable plot and a budget that’s just big enough, you’re gonna need a heck of a cast to really drive it all home. And by a “heck of a cast,” I don’t just mean one or more A-list stars, but rather actors who have a love for the craft and not just the fame it could bring. 2003’s pillaging of my favorite comic book character Daredevil suffered from this mistake: Get a big star to cover up for the fact that this won’t be as big as Titanic. I’m not going to use any puns here and say that this movie’s cast “shines” or some garbage like that, but it is what makes the movie.

In 2057, a team of scientists are sent to our now dying Sun to use a stellar bomb to reignite it…hopefully. It’s not enough to just get in a ship and go, as the team deals with the extreme environments of space, as well as the psychological effects of the mission itself. But even if the team makes it to the Sun, will the bomb work? And will they even be able to make it back home?

Written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle, both of 28 Days Later (2003), among other things, I’d known I’d wanted to see this since I first heard about it. But it wasn’t a until a friend reminded me of it last year and I was able to find it in the five dollar bin at Best Buy that I was actually able to watch it. And thankfully, I was not disappointed. Funny thing is, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) still sells for about twenty bucks and it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. This little gem however, is almost being treated like toilet paper and it’s amazing. Cillian Murphy (also of 28 Days Later and Batman Begins, 2005) plays our main protagonist and is quite good as usual, although once again, everybody plays their part in this. Chris Evans plays the Ship’s engineer and some of my favorite moments in the movie are the interaction between the two characters. Cillian Murphy’s Capa, an introverted thinker and the ship’s physicist occasionally clashes with Evan’s Mace, the direct, seemingly cold hearted resident engineer and the humorously dry situations they find themselves in together make for some rare comedic moments in an otherwise very dramatic, sometimes stressful film.

But to point out only Evans and Murphy isn’t to take away from the actors at all, but on the contrary; everyone in this is great and it’s by far the standout aspect of the film itself. How would you deal with being tasked with saving the entire world? Think of your employees and co-workers. Chances are, you don’t like them all. Now imagine, having to be stuck in close proximity for a number of years. At times in different jobs, I’ve had a heard time completing the most basic of tasks with co-workers I didn’t like, much less flying through space to attempt to keep earth alive. The psycological elements of the film are what make this film worth watching because as mentioned above, the story is ridiculous. But when I say that, I dont’ mean stupid. But if there’s one thing that’s been criticized more than any other thing in this film, it’s the “scientific inaccuracies.” I put that in quotations because it doesn’t seem right coming from me to criticize anybody on astronomy or astrophysics because what the heck do I know? Sure, I’ve watched The Universe and I’ve grown up with Discovery Channel just on frequently, but I’m no expert. Well, according to many, the things the movie got wrong about space and everything that comes with it, are about the same as Hollywood’s love of cars exploding because they’ve just been shot in the trunk.

Experts have criticized the film for these things such as the fact that the plot itself is one giant hole, being that to “kickstart” the Sun, you’d need more than a bomb, but more like billions. So while the depiction of gravity in the film is evidently one giant leap of a mistake…but this isn’t based on a true story. This isn’t a documentary either and while my own brother was pointing these things out as he watched it, he still couldn’t bring himself to actually dislike the film because it’s just that well made.

One of the more interesting plot points introduced was also one that was not expected, when the crew finds remenants of the our planet’s first attempt to send a crew to the sun. It’s a creepy scene where our heroes investigate what’s basically a haunted house in space and look on to what isn’t just the demise of the first crew, but what the future may hold for the current one. Any details of this will be spared so as not to ruin it for you becaue I want you to actually watch the movie. From this scene alone, more dilemmas are introduced for a climax that was completely out of left field unless you recognize a particular actor briefly shown toward the beginning of the film. If that seems vague, it’s on purpose and you’ll know what I mean when you watch the movie. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s a turning point that turned off many viewers from what I understand but for me it’s what made it as good as I think of it today. Also, Hiroyuki Sanada plays Kaneda, the ship’s captain and while he doesn’t have too many lines, I don’t know much about this guy, but I like him. Very cool, with a less-is-more approach to the character. Look for him in the upcoming remake of 47 Ronin, out later this year.

One Response to “You Gotta See This: Sunshine”

  1. Phenomenal movie!!! Freaking loved it!! Would be amazing to see on an IMAX screen.

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